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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 31

Posted by Taylor Price on January 31, 2013 – 8:54 AM

Justin Smith’s hard-working ways come into greater focus thanks to a remarkable story from ESPN.com’ Elizabeth Merrill. San Francisco’s four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle doesn’t seek out attention, but this story certainly explains the roots of Smith’s work ethic.

Smith owns the Railwood Golf Club in Holts Summit, Mo., a course that costs $25 to play 18 holes with a cart.

“Just Smith wanted it this way,” Merrill wrote. “He didn’t want to gouge the working man who couldn’t take a Monday off to hit golf balls. Smith would prefer, though, that you didn’t know he’s the owner of this golf course nestled in the rolling hills of Central Missouri.

“His name is not on the voicemail, or the website, and that seems typical. Smith is 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, and one of the most important players on the San Francisco 49ers’ vaunted defense, but he prefers to remain in the background. When his teammates are getting sacks, it means Smith is doing his job. Smith has a goal. When he’s finished with football, he’d like to be able to go to the grocery store without anyone recognizing him.”

Check out more of the top Super Bowl XLVII headlines after the jump.

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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 28

Posted by Alex Espinoza on January 28, 2013 – 12:18 PM

NEW ORLEANS – The 49ers touched down in New Orleans on Sunday and greeted the national media in the Big Easy before getting preparations underway for Super Bowl XLVII. Jim Harbaugh and a few of the team’s biggest leaders addressed reporters on Sunday night, discussing the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl run.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com broke down the trip for the 49ers and compared it to the two trips to Youngstown, Ohio, that the team has taken in the regular season since Harbaugh took over as coach.

“But the 49ers’ week-long stay at the site of Super Bowl XLVII is bringing back memories of the road trips the club has taken the past two years during the regular season,” Maiocco wrote. “Yes, there will be a lot more media and hype surrounding the 49ers’ game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, but it is also a time for the team to focus on football — just as they’ve done in Youngstown on week-long trips.”

The rest of today’s Morning Tailgate features more 49ers arrival news and more.

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NFC Title Game Tailgate: Jan. 21

Posted by Alex Espinoza on January 21, 2013 – 3:08 PM

The 49ers are headed back to the Super Bowl. And they did it in style.

Sunday’s 28-24 road comeback in Atlanta to win the NFC Championship was an instant classic that left 49ers Faithful breathless. In the end, a second half shutout by the defense and an impressive group effort by the offense was enough to overcome an early 17-0 deficit in the hostile Georgia Dome.

San Francisco is undefeated in its previous five Super Bowl appearances, and returns to the World Championship for the first time since defeating the Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX following the 1994 season.

Super Bowl XLVII, which will be held in New Orleans on Feb. 3. By now, you may have heard about the two coaches who will be coaching the 49ers and Ravens in two weeks: Jim and John Harbaugh. Peter King of Sports Illustrated took a look ahead to the second edition of the HarBowl after a thrilling Championship Sunday in Atlanta and Foxboro.

“The Niners are back,” King wrote. “Hard to believe it’s been 18 years since Steve Young threw six touchdown passes to shred the Chargers, then mimed having a monkey on his back while begging Harris Barton to rip it off, only to throw up a Gatorade/cookie mix all over agent Leigh Steinberg’s shoes in the postgame. Aaah, those were the days. But San Francisco’s finally in the Big One again, to try to stretch its 5-0 record in Super Bowls.”

The rest of today’s NFC Title Game Tailgate recaps the big win in Atlanta and looks ahead to New Orleans.

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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 17

Posted by Alex Espinoza on January 17, 2013 – 10:54 AM

For most running backs in the NFL, their production starts to dip as they approach their 30th birthday. But 49ers rushing king Frank Gore isn’t like most running backs.

The franchise’s all-time leader in yards, touchdowns and carries is still a workhorse in the backfield at the age of 29. Last week against the Packers, the eight-year veteran ran for 119 yards, joining Colin Kaepernick (181 rushing yards) and Michael Crabtree (119 yards receiving) as the only trio in NFL playoff history to feature two, 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver on the same team.

Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated traced Gore’s career and his ability to bounce back from devastating injuries and still be one of the game’s most productive backs.

“His resiliency is largely due to genetics and toughness, but there is an ample dose of passion in the recipe,” Trotter wrote. “It might not be as public as a Ray Lewis pre-game dance or speech, but it’s obvious behind the closed doors of the locker room, where the soft-spoken 5-foot-9, 217-pound veteran has been known to cry at his locker after losses, or on the practice field, where during training camp in 2007 coaches had to hide his helmet because he kept sneaking onto to the practice field despite having a broken hand.”

Do you want to see the NFC Championship game in Atlanta? 49ers Faithful have until Noon today to enter to win a trip to Atlanta that includes airfare, lodging and game tickets.

Today’s Morning Tailgate also focuses on Colin Kaepernick in the national spotlight, NFC Championship matchups to watch and more.

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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 15

Posted by Taylor Price on January 15, 2013 – 10:14 AM

Get used to hearing about Colin Kaepernick.

San Francisco’s starting quarterback continues to become a household name now that the second-year player is gracing one of four regional covers for Sports Illustrated.

It’s certainly well-deserved. The youngest starting quarterback in 49ers postseason history had a game for the ages  against the Green Bay Packers – 181 rushing yards – the most by a quarterback in any game. Ever.

Furthermore, Kaepernick threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two more, joining Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham and Jay Cutler as the only players to throw and rush for a pair of touchdowns in a postseason game.

Now, Kaepernick is 6-2 as a starter with a 98.7 QB rating to go with 12 touchdown passes , four interceptions, as well as 419 rushing yards and four rushing scores.

Find out more about Kaepernick’s postseason mindset by picking up a copy of the cover story written by SI’s Austin Murphy.

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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 11

Posted by Alex Espinoza on January 11, 2013 – 11:38 AM

In the past seven games, Colin Kaepernick has led the 49ers to a 5-2 record and closed out their run as NFC West Champs and the No. 2 seed in the conference. But it’s a whole new ballgame now.

Heading into his first postseason action, Kaepernick will have a chance to show why Jim Harbaugh elected to make the quarterback switch to the young, athletic signal-caller in Week 11. Kaepernick has approached the 5 p.m. Saturday kickoff as business as usual, but realizes the magnitude of the NFC Championship bid that’s on the line.

Daniel Brown of the Bay Area News Group said it’s time to see if Harbaugh’s decision will pay off for the 49ers in earnest.

“Harbaugh pushed in all his chips this season with a midseason change of starting quarterbacks and, on Saturday against the Green Bay Packers, the coach finds out if lucky No. 7 comes up a winner,” Brown wrote. “That’s the jersey number of Colin Kaepernick, the boundlessly talented, minimally experienced quarterback who earned Harbaugh’s endorsement over the cautiously efficient Alex Smith.”

The rest of today’s Morning Tailgate features all the latest links on the Packers matchup, Eddie DeBartolo’s bid for the Hall of Fame and the 49ers kicker situation.

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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 10

Posted by Taylor Price on January 10, 2013 – 10:32 AM

Have no fear 49ers Faithful, it’s almost here. Yes, playoff football is right around the corner. But before the Green Bay Packers come into town for a Saturday night Divisional Playoff clash, there’s still plenty of telling statistics to comb over prior to kick-off.

Good thing Evan Silva of Rotoworld.com uncovers those interesting details as well as anyone around. In his recent matchup column, Silva shared plenty of valuable notes on the 49ers opening playoff matchup.

Here are just a few of the many interesting items from Silva’s writeup:

-Aaron Rodgers has completed 102 of his last 149 passes (68.5 percent) for 1,310 yards (8.79 yards per attempt), with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

-Rodgers hasn’t been intercepted in 177 throws.

-When the teams met in Week 1, Rodgers completed all nine of his passes targeted to Randall Cobb for 77 yards.

-Greg Jennings, not Cobb, has been Green Bay’s most productive receiver as of late. Jennings led the Packers in receptions (19), receiving yards (226), and touchdowns (3), over the past three weeks.

-Colin Kaepernick had possibly his best start in San Francisco’s Week 17 win over Arizona. Kaepernick completed a career-high 276 yards on 28 attempts against Arizona’s top-five pass defense. Kaepernick averaged 9.9 yards per attempt without a turnover.

-Most importantly of all, Silva predicted a 34-30 victory for the 49ers.

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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 8

Posted by Taylor Price on January 8, 2013 – 10:16 AM

Frank Gore heads into his second postseason fresher and more determined than ever.

The Pro Bowl running back rushed 258 times in the 2012 regular season, 24 fewer attempts than his 2011 output.

Come Saturday night when the 49ers host the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Divisional Playoff round, the eight-year veteran will look to build on his solid postseason debut where Gore rushed 29 times for 163 yards and caught 13 passes for 83 yards in two postseason games.

Gore averaged 5.6 yards per carry in the 2011 postseason, a full yard more than his career average of 4.6.

Gore, San Francisco’s all-time leader in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, comes into greater focus thanks to a recent story from San Jose Mercury News beat writer Cam Inman who discussed Gore’s leadership and determination to win his first Super Bowl.

According to Inman, Gore bought his offensive linemen Breitling watches, an encore to last season’s Louis Vuitton travel bags.

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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 4

Posted by Taylor Price on January 4, 2013 – 9:53 AM

The 49ers will do a lot more scoreboard watching this weekend, just like Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner was doing after the regular season finale in the photo atop this post.

The game San Francisco is most focused on features the two teams they anxiously watched at the conclusion of a Week 17 win over Arizona. On Saturday night, if the Green Bay Packers are victorious at home over the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers will travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers on Jan. 12 in the Divisional Playoff round.

For what it’s worth, longtime Sports Illustrated writer Peter King is predicting a Packers win.

If the Vikings win, however, the winner of the Seattle Seahawks-Washington Redskins Sunday afternoon tilt will travel to Candlestick Park for a primetime postseason clash.

Tickets for the Jan. 12 Divisional matchup presented by State Farm will be made available on Monday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. PT via Ticketmaster.  Quantities will be limited, so fans will be encouraged to visit NFL Ticket Exchange for additional seats.

But before the 49ers can find out who they’ll play next week, the team will hold one last workout this week that figures to impact San Francisco’s decision at kicker for the postseason.

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New Year’s Eve Tailgate: Dec. 31

Posted by Taylor Price on December 31, 2012 – 11:06 AM

From all of us with the San Francisco 49ers we’d like to wish you a very safe and happy New Year. Fresh off Sunday’s 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers have clinched consecutive NFC West titles and NFC No. 2 seeds.

It was a solid team effort against the Cardinals, followed by some anxious television watching as the Minnesota Vikings narrowly defeated the Green Bay Packers to give San Francisco a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Re-live Sunday’s season finale in today’s roundup of the top 49ers headlines from the Week 17 victory.

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