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Morning Tailgate: 49ers Deep at RB

Posted by Taylor Price on July 10, 2013 – 10:57 AM

From top to bottom, the San Francisco 49ers boast one of, if not the, deepest running back groups in the National Football League.

Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, San Francisco’s top runners, could all be featured as star weapons on any given team. Together, the 49ers have one of the strongest backfields in the league. The group also includes Anthony Dixon, Jewel Hampton and fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore, who is working diligently to rehab a major college knee injury.

To further prove the point of San Francisco having a top-notice stable of runners, Marc Sessler of NFL.com put San Francisco atop his list of the NFL’s deepest backfields.

“Gore at age 30 remains highly productive, but the 49ers have planned for his eventual departure with a packed stable of backs,” Sessler wrote. “Hunter is coming off Achilles surgery but remains a strong bet to keep the No. 2 spot if he’s healthy come September. James completes coordinator Greg Roman’s three-headed monster in the backfield.”

More 49ers headlines can be found in today’s Morning Tailgate.

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MT: Joe Staley Temporarily Sidelined

Posted by Taylor Price on May 29, 2013 – 11:25 AM

The 49ers starting left tackle was not practicing at Organized Team Activities on Tuesday. Joe Staley was in attendance, but not participating in the two-hour workout.

After the open OTA session, Jim Harbaugh informed reporters that Staley had a minor procedure done this offseason.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reported it was a minor meniscus tear in Staley’s left knee.

Staley went to Twitter to alleviate any concerns from the team’s fan base.

“Procedure I had this offseason was very minor but necessary,” Staley wrote. “I will be 100 percent and better than ever by training camp.”

More 49ers headlines can be found in today’s Morning Tailgate.

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MT: Replacing Michael Crabtree

Posted by Taylor Price on May 24, 2013 – 10:45 AM

It won’t be a one man job.

To replace Michael Crabtree’s production on the San Francisco 49ers (85 catches, 1,105 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2012) it’s going to take a collective effort from the team, the team, the team.

Jim Harbaugh is eager to see which young wide receiver will emerge to fill Crabtree’s shoes as San Francisco’s starting wideout opposite of Anquan Boldin. So far, the young wideouts have been letting their work on the practice field make their case. Players like A.J. Jenkins and Ricardo Lockette are intriguing prospects to line up with Boldin. Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams are also close to returning from late-season injuries.

It should also be noted that the 49ers can still continue their power-running approach in 2013. They also have the unique running threat of Colin Kaepernick. In the backfield, Kendall Hunter is working his way back from a season-ending injury. Plus, Frank Gore is Frank Gore.

Receivers are key in any offense, but the 49ers have shown the ability to be creative in personnel groupings. Not to be forgotten, Vernon Davis, one of the game’s most dangerous tight ends, still figures to be heavily involved in the passing game.

More on the team’s options to fill in for Crabtree can be found in today’s Morning Tailgate.

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MT: Kendall Hunter Back Sprinting

Posted by Taylor Price on April 18, 2013 – 10:07 AM

The San Francisco 49ers enjoy a bevy of talented running backs who can run Greg Roman’s complex offensive system. One of them, third-year runner Kendall Hunter, is back running sprints this offseason. He’s doing so five months removed from a torn left Achilles. Perhaps, Kobe Bryant might want rehab notes from the 49ers running back.

Hunter shared details of his progress with Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I’m just doing what the trainers want me to do,” Hunter told Branch. “That’s the process. I feel and know I can do more, but I’m not going to rush whatever the coaches and trainers want.”

Hunter rushed for 371 yards in 2012, good for 5.2 yards per carry. Hunter also scored two rushing touchdowns before injuring himself on Nov. 25 against the New Orleans Saints.

Hunter told Branch he’d like to participate in OTAs in May or San Francisco’s mandatory minicamp in June, but the talented running back understands the importance of a patient rehab process and expects to be held out of action until training camp.

More 49ers headlines can be found in today’s Morning Tailgate.

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Morning Tailgate: Feb. 8

Posted by Alex Espinoza on February 8, 2013 – 10:39 AM

Jim Harbaugh traded in his trademark black sweater for a red one on Thursday as he hit the Pebble Beach Golf Links in the first round of the AT&T Pro-AM. Along with partner Jason Day, Harbaugh finished tied for second with a score of 9-under 61. Harbaugh and Day are playing Friday’s second round at Spyglass Hill with Giants pitcher Matt Cain and Matt Bettencourt and you can follow with live scoring from PGATour.com.

Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle recapped Harbaugh’s initial round at Pebble Beach. “Harbaugh arrived at the practice range Thursday morning … well, needing to practice. He hadn’t swung a golf club in nearly a full year, since last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am,” Kroichick wrote. “Then he went out and helped his professional partner, Jason Day, post a team score of 9-under-par. That planted Harbaugh and Day in the thick of early contention, tied for third among the 156 pro-am tandems in the tournament.”

The rest of Today’s Morning Tailgate looks back to Harbaugh’s day on the links, Colin Kaepernick’s playoff success and more.

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Morning Tailgate: Nov. 28

Posted by Alex Espinoza on November 28, 2012 – 11:24 AM

Who’s got better linebackers than the 49ers? All-Pro NaVorro Bowman inked a five-year contract extension on Tuesday that will keep him with the 49ers until the 2018 season. Combined with the contract status of the team’s other linebackers, Aldon Smith (Signed through 2015), Patrick Willis (2016) and Ahmad Brooks (2017), it will be interesting to watch the new group during the final stages of Candlestick Park’s great history and entering the new home of the 49ers in 2014.

Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea.com described the scene at 49ers headquarters as Bowman talked to the media after signing his extension. “The move ensures that Bowman and fellow linebacker and good friend Patrick Willis will be together through at least the 2016 season,” Kurz wrote. “In fact, Willis was among the first people Bowman gave his good news. He just couldn’t keep the secret any longer.”

Tuesday was also a noteworthy day for bad reasons, as Kendall Hunter and Kyle Williams were placed on the season-ending Injured Reserved list. Read up on all the latest 49ers new after the jump.

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49ers Place Hunter, Williams on IR

Posted by Alex Espinoza on November 27, 2012 – 2:28 PM

The San Francisco 49ers announced they have placed WR Kyle Williams and RB Kendall Hunter on the Injured Reserve List. The team also announced that RB Jewel Hampton has been added to the active roster from the Non-Football Injury List. The team also added WR Chad Hall to the practice squad, and waived S Eddie Whitley from that unit.

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Morning Tailgate: Nov. 27

Posted by Taylor Price on November 27, 2012 – 10:17 AM

Patrick Willis has been long regarded as one of the NFL’s elite defensive players. Each season of his six-year career, the San Francisco 49ers linebacker has been in the discussion for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honors.

This year is no different, only Willis is not alone in receiving DPOY publicity. Second-year linebacker Aldon Smith, the NFL’s leader with 16.5 sacks, is also receiving praise for his elite play.

ProFootballFocus.com’s cast of writers recently listed Smith and Willis as their No. 8 and No. 9 candidates for DPOY honors.

There’s still five games to play and Smith (16.5 sacks) is chasing the NFL’s single-season sack record (22.5) held by former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.

Jim Harbaugh believes it’s great to be mentioned with some of the game’s all-time greats, but the 49ers coach believes there’s more important accomplishments left on the table.

“I think I’ve told you what I think of team effort and records and it doesn’t need to be compared with anything that happened previous years or with previous great players,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “I mean you’re talking about great players that accomplished great things. It’s great to be mentioned with that, but I think I could speak for Aldon if I could for minute. Statistics aren’t what motivates him, it’s winning games.”

In the month of November, Smith totaled 9.0 sacks in three games, while the league’s No. 2 and 3 sack leaders, J.J. Watt and Von Miller, totaled five and eight sacks, respectively, in four November contests.

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Gameday Story: I’ve Got Your Back

Posted by Taylor Price on November 20, 2012 – 10:58 AM

The San Francisco 49ers boast not one, but two of the best running backs in the National Football League. With Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter literally carrying a heavy workload for the 49ers, the team has gone 19-1-1 when the duo combine for 20 or more carries.

Such was the case in the team’s recent 32-7 dismantling of the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. Gore carried the ball 17 times for 78 yards, while Hunter added 27 yards on five carries, including a 14-yard touchdown run.

The talented running backs share a great deal of respect for each other on and off the field. The bond between the two has clearly translated into consistent success for San Francisco. The relationship of the 49ers running back was further examined in the recent edition of Gameday. Running backs coach Tom Rathman explained the dynamic of his meeting room and how Gore constantly looks out for his younger teammates.

Get to know the hard-working ways of the 49ers running back in the latest Gameday cover story.
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On the Phone with Smith and Briggs

Posted by Taylor Price on November 15, 2012 – 2:21 PM

The last Super Bowl-winning team in Chicago Bears history was the last team of the proud franchise to win in San Francisco.

Since Mike Ditka’s Bears won 26-10 on Oct. 13, 1985, Chicago has lost seven consecutive games at Candlestick Park.

History aside, this year’s Bears team, led by coach Lovie Smith, enters Monday’s matchup in the Bay Area confident about ending the seven-game road slide to the 49ers.

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