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Pro Bowl Update: Week 11

Posted by Scott Kegley on November 18, 2009 – 3:18 PM

The 49ers players need your support to get to the 2010 Pro Bowl in South Florida.  Here’s a recap of what some of the 49ers top Pro Bowl candidates have done through the first ten weeks of the season.  You can vote as many times as you like at nfl.com/probowl.

TE Vernon Davis: Davis is having a career-year, leading the team with 45 catches for 493 yards and 7 touchdowns. His 7 TD catches rank 1st among tight ends and tied for 3rd in the NFL among receivers. He ranks 3rd among NFC tight ends in both yards and receptions.

LB Patrick Willis: Willis leads the 49ers with 98 tackles to go along with 2.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (1 returned for TD), 2 forced fumbles, 6 TFLs and 9 PDs. According to league stats, Willis ranks 2nd in the NFL in tackles (88).

RB Frank Gore: Despite missing nearly 3 games due to an ankle injury, Gore has still managed to rush for 551 yards and 6 touchdowns (tied for 4th in NFC), while also leading the NFC with 5.2 yds. per carry. Gore ranks 2nd on the team with 26 catches (211 yds. and 1 TD).

P Andy Lee: Lee ranks 2nd in the NFL with a 41.7 net punting avg. He also ranks 3rd in the NFL in gross punt avg. (47.6) and tied for 5th in the NFL with 19 punts downed inside the 20-yd. line.

NT Aubrayo Franklin: Franklin leads the defensive line with 56 tackles and 6.5 TFLs. He recorded a crucial interception against Chicago (11/12) and has set a career-high with 2.0 sacks. Franklin has helped limit opponents to 3.3 yds. per carry (1st in NFL) and the 3rd-fewest rushing yards per game (87.7).

RB Michael Robinson: Robinson ranks 2nd on the team in special teams tackles (16) and has led the team in special teams tackles in three different games. He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2008.


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Singletary and Teammates Applaud Franklin

Posted by Taylor Price on November 13, 2009 – 3:35 PM

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A day after beating the Chicago Bears 10-6 at Candlestick Park, Mike Singletary said nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin has been his most consistent player this season.

That’s certainly high praise, considering the player who lines up behind Franklin is two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Patrick Willis. But Singletary meant what he said in complementing the play of his nose tackle, who took points off the score board by intercepting Jay Cutler at the Bears 1-yard line.

Known in the locker room for being one of the best dressed players on the team, Franklin became a new kind of trendsetter by becoming the first of five different players to intercept Cutler last night.

“It was fun,” Franklin said of his first-career interception. “But I’m just glad they didn’t get in the end zone.”

Franklin was asked if defensive lineman such as himself imagined scenarios where they intercept a pass and the 6-foot-1, 317-pound nose tackle admitted such things were in fact true.

111309-franklin-sub“I think anybody does on the defensive line,” Franklin revealed. “We’re the guys who rarely get our hands on the ball; we’re trying to knock the ball down. Fortunately, God blessed me to get a pick and I held on to it.”

It was Franklin’s first interception since his high school days at Science Hill High in Johnson City, Tennessee. Back then Franklin was an all-state linebacker who recorded 180 tackles as a senior. Franklin said he would send the ball back home to his mother, Chantini Carter who lives back in Tennessee.

Franklin received even more praise from teammate Jeff Ulrbich who was recently placed on injured reserve. Ulbrich, who remains around the team in a daily basis, interrupted Franklin’s media session to openly share his thoughts on one of the 49ers most underrated players.

“I’m putting this out there right now, anybody that doesn’t recognize that he is one of the top-3 nose tackles in the game right now, doesn’t know anything about football. You know nothing and you shouldn’t be writing,” said Ulbrich as he put his right hand on Franklin’s shoulder.

Ulbrich was asked if Franklin should be in the Pro Bowl this year, to which the 10-year veteran said, “He should, without a doubt.”

More Monday Notes

-After having their longest injury list after the Tennessee game, the 49ers have a shorter injury list following last night’s game. The injury list is: Michael Lewis (stinger), Arnaz Battle (quad), Mark Roman (knee), Adam Snyder (AC sprain), Takeo Spikes (hamstring) and Isaac Bruce (ankle).
-Out of the names mentioned above, all figure to be active for the 49ers next game against the Green Bay Packers. Singletary added that the team will need to monitor Spikes on a day-to-day basis.

-Singletary made a decision in regards to the starting wide receivers for the duration of the season. Josh Morgan will remain in the starting lineup when Bruce regains full strength in his ankle. But Singletary reiterated that Bruce will remain a factor in the offense and will see plenty of playing time.

-One are of concern to Singletary was the kicking game. Joe Nedney missed a 39-yard field goal which could have been a useful three points given the close circumstances at the end of the game. Singletary also said that wind played a factor in him not letting Nedney attempt a 50-plus-yard field goal on the 49ers final possession. Singletary elected to let punter Andy Lee pin the Bears inside the 10-yard line, but Lee was unable to do so. “We have to make those kicks,” Singletary said.

- Singletary was pleased overall with his defense and how they were able to execute the game plan for the Chicago game. “I thought our defense did what we focused on which was creating turnovers,” he said. But Singletary found areas for improvement after watching the game again last night. “We have to continue to work on our tackling on the perimeter,” he added. “We have to continue to keep working at that.”

-In addition to Franklin and others on his defense, Singletary singled out linebacker Matt Wilhelm who filled in nicely for Spikes. “Matt has experience and that helps tremendously.” Wilhelm finished the game five tackles, one of which went behind the line of scrimmage.

111309-smith-sub-A day after he completed two impromptu shovel passes for big gains, Alex Smith said he too found himself asking himself why he was doing it too. “Those things seem to come in spurts like that. You don’t get them, then you do two or three of them and you even ask yourself the same question, ‘Why am I doing it?’ It just kind of happens when you’re playing in the game, you’re not thinking, you’re just reacting. And sometimes it’s just a quicker way to get the ball out. You can’ always set up and have a form throw so it’s easier sometimes just to shove it to the guy.

-Smith praised backup running back Michael Robinson, who converted two first downs on the 49ers final offensive drive. “It was huge, especially when you’re trying to run down the clock,” Smith said. “We had the lead and it was important for us to change field position and take as much time off the clock as we could. To get those third down conversions to eat up quite a bit of that clock… in the end, those are things that help you win the game.”

-The maligned 49ers offensive line put together a solid performance, helping Frank Gore surpass the 100-yard mark for the 17th time in his career.

-“I think as the game went on we got better,” left tackle Barry Sims said. “It would have been nice to finish some drives off, we moved the ball well at times, but we needed to finish drives better than we did and give our defense a better chance where they do not have to win it on the last play of the game.”

-Sims, an avid golfer, will not step foot on a golf course this weekend with the 49ers having the weekend off. “I’m just going to relax, keep my body fresh and get ready for Green Bay,” he said.


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Pro Bowl Update: Week 10

Posted by Scott Kegley on November 10, 2009 – 2:24 PM

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The 49ers players need your support to get to the 2010 Pro Bowl in South Florida.  Here’s a recap of what some of the 49ers top Pro Bowl candidates have done through the first nine weeks of the season.  You can vote as many times as you like at nfl.com/probowl.

TE Vernon Davis: Davis is having a career-year, ranking tied for 1st in the NFL with a career-high 7 TD rec. He is also leading the 49ers with 42 rec., 477 rec. yds., and 7 TDs. Davis is on pace to set career-highs in both receptions as well as receiving yds.

LB Patrick Willis: Willis  leads the 49ers with 86 tackles to go along with 2.5 sacks, 2 INTs (1 returned for TD), 2 FFs, 6 TFLs and 8 PDs. According to gamebooks, Willis ranks 3rd in the NFL in tackles (77).

NT Aubrayo Franklin: Franklin is the force in the middle of the 49ers run defense and leads the defensive line with 50 tackles and 6.5 TFLs. He has also set a career-high with 2.0 sacks. Franklin has helped limit opponents to 3.4 yds. per carry (2nd in NFL) and the 5th-fewest rushing yds. allowed (746).

P Andy Lee: Lee leads the NFC and ranks 2nd in the NFL with a 42.5 net punting avg. He also ranks 1st in the NFC gross punt avg. (48.5) and 5th in the NFL with 18 punts downed inside the 20-yd. line.

RB Michael Robinson: Robinson ranks 2nd on the team in special teams tackles (16) and has led the team in special teams tackles in three different games. He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2008.

LB Scott McKillop: McKillop has been a special teams standout in his rookie season. He leads the team in special teams tackles (21) and also registered a special teams fumble recovery for a touchdown vs. StL.


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Singletary Names Team Captains

Posted by Taylor Price on September 11, 2009 – 4:08 PM

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When the 49ers take on the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday on the road, head coach Mike Singletary’s team will be led by the six team captains he announced on Friday.

Linebackers Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes along with defensive end Justin Smith, running back Michael Robinson, center Eric Heitmann, and tight end Vernon Davis will serve as the 49ers team captains for the ’09 season.

“Those six guys, to me, embody all of the things that we strive to be, in terms of the work ethic,” Singletary said. “Number one, these guys are always working, and they’re team guys striving to do all the little things that we need to do in order to be the best we can.”

Upon hearing the news, the chosen six were extremely honored to have been selected.

“It’s a big honor,” Spikes said. “ It’s big from the aspect that it’s my second year here and it comes this late in my career with another team. It’s something that I accept open handedly. It shows the respect factor not only that my peers have for me but for what the staff has for me.”


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Familiar Faces Return to Practice

Posted by Scott Kegley on August 17, 2009 – 2:14 PM

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Some familiar faces returned to the practice field Monday morning for the 49ers first full practice since playing the Denver Broncos on Friday night.  Tight end Delanie Walker returned from his concussion taking part in all sessions of practice while several others went through position drills.

The defense was certainly thrilled to get their leader, Patrick Willis, back into the mix following an ankle injury that sidelined him since the first day of camp.  Tarell Brown also returned and will certainly bring some added competition to the cornerback position battle opposite Nate Clements while Michael Robinson (groin) rejoined the running backs.

“It’s been real frustrating, but at the same time, it’s been good,” Willis said.  “The coaches have been really supportive. They haven’t been like, ‘Get back out there. We know you can go.’ They’ve been behind me. They’ve just been like, ‘Get yourself well. We know that when it’s time for you to get back out there, you’re going to give us everything you’ve got.’”

Willis said it was difficult to watch Friday’s game from the sideline.  It must have also been difficult on defensive coordinator Greg Manusky not to have his All-Pro middle linebacker available.

“We are just working [Willis] in a little bit here and there just to see how he goes,” Manusky said. “He is doing good. I think he has been in the playbook studying as much as he can. As soon as he is ready to go, he will go.”

That time might come sooner rather than later as Willis expects to participate in 7-on-7 drills this afternoon and see some action when the 49ers go to Napa on Tuesday and Wednesday to practice with the Oakland Raiders.

“I’m hoping so,” Willis said.  “I’m leaving it up to [the training staff] right now. If it was up to me, I would try and go the next day after I hurt it. We’re going through a progression right now of just playing it safe and not rushing it back in. It’s training camp, and as much as I’d love to be out there, we have to be smart at the same time.”

Brown is also looking forward to practicing against the Raiders. Seeing Dre’ Bly come up with an interception against Denver gave Brown that much more incentive to get back in the lineup.

“It’s been fueling my fire when anybody makes plays,” Brown said.  “Everybody in the secondary is a competitor.  We all like to see each other do well, but we all want to make plays.”

Walker was also so eager to get back out on the field that he kept working even after practice was over, putting in some time running the hill head coach Mike Singletary refers to as “Pain.”

“I felt pretty good, but a little winded which is to be expected,” Walker said.  “That’s why I was running up the hill.  I’m just trying to get myself back together, but I felt great.”

Practice Notes

During 1-on-1 drills, the running backs squared off against the linebackers in a pass protection drill.  The best hit of the day was delivered by running back Glen Coffee who pancaked Justin Roland.

The best catch of the day had to go to Micheal Spurlock who made an acrobatic grab on a deep crossing route.  Shaun Hill’s pass was thrown a little behind Spurlock who reached back and tipped the ball to himself.

Safety Reggie Smith also made a nice pass breakup down the left sideline on a ball intended for tight end Vernon Davis.


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