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Morning Tailgate: Nov. 29

Posted by Alex Espinoza on November 29, 2012 – 11:21 AM

The 49ers are no strangers to quality quarterbacks. Dating back to the likes of Y.A. Tittle and John Brodie to Joe Montana and Steve Young, San Francisco has been spoiled with signal-callers throughout the years. The 2012 49ers are lucky to have two players under center that have led the team to big victories: Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith.

A huge contingent of media gathered at 49ers headquarters on Wednesday, as coach Jim Harbaugh revealed Kaepernick will receive the start this Sunday in St. Louis, his third straight for the team. The decision to name the second-year emerging star as the quarterback was dissected every which way by the media, including Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.

“QB coach Geep Chryst and OC Greg Roman are certainly hands-on and deeply involved in all parts of the QB play,” Kawakami wrote. “But I think we have to give most of the credit for this to Harbaugh–who did some things with Andrew Luck, I seem to recall. Harbaugh has a fine focus on the QB spot, and the guy can flat-out coach the position.”

Today’s Morning Tailgate rounds up all the Kaepernick coverage, Pro Bowl voting leaders, Santa Clara Stadium news and more.

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Morning Tailgate: Nov. 15

Posted by Taylor Price on November 15, 2012 – 9:56 AM

Randy Moss entered the National Football League in 1998 and the league and its record books have never been the same.

The veteran wideout with a Hall of Fame worthy list of accolades continues to learn about the game in his 14th season. Moss is as passionate about the game as ever. He’s also remains proud of his hometown of Rand, W.V.

The birthplace of the 49ers wideout was the subject of a three-part video series on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area dubbed, “Hometown: Randy Moss.” It was also further discussed in a well-written feature on Moss by CSN’s Matt Maiocco.

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Morning Tailgate: Nov. 13

Posted by Taylor Price on November 13, 2012 – 10:09 AM

Will Alex Smith be in the huddle this Monday night when the Chicago Bears come to town? That’s the question on everyone’s mind two days removed from the 49ers quarterback suffering a concussion against the St. Louis Rams.

Smith’s status will be determined later in the week according to coach Jim Harbaugh. But if San Francisco is asked to call on backup Colin Kaepernick once again, the team feels confident about the play-making ability of the second-year player.

If Kaepernick gets the nod, Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco 49ers, believes Kaepernick’s first start would be as good of a test as any against the league’s most opportunistic defense.

“If Smith sits, an intriguing game becomes even more fascinating. Kaepernick would make his first NFL start, staring into the menacing eyes of linebacker Brian Urlacher as he attempts to solve the league’s fifth-ranked defense – in prime time, with the full and undivided attention of our football-mad nation,” Kroichick wrote.

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Posted in Morning Tailgate | 35 Comments »

Gameday Story: Lights. Camera. Aldon.

Posted by Taylor Price on November 12, 2012 – 9:30 AM

San Francisco’s pass rush is in good hands for years to come thanks to second-year linebacker Aldon Smith. The dynamic defender currently ranks third in the NFL with 9.5 sacks following a two-sack performance against the St. Louis Rams.

Smith, a Missouri native, takes extreme pride in rushing the passer. It’s a specialized role that the young linebacker has mastered, all while taking on the responsibilities of being an every-down player in his second season in the league.

In our latest Gameday cover story, Smith opened up about what goes into his gameday performances. From his pregame mindset, to in-game collaboration, to the thrill of making a sack, Smith explains everything that allows him to be successful. The cover image, shot by team photographer Michael Zagaris, depicts Smith in his pregame state. The disruptive pass-rusher explained the scene and much more in this cover story. So without further ado, get to know the man with 23.5 career sacks and plenty of memorable sack celebrations.

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Morning Tailgate: Nov. 9

Posted by Taylor Price on November 9, 2012 – 10:38 AM

Behind the scenes and on the gridiron itself, Randy Moss has endeared himself to teammates and coaches with the San Francisco 49ers.

The veteran wideout with a resume worthy of inclusion into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is coming off his best performance with his new team, a Week 8 effort on “Monday Night Football” that saw Moss level a Cardinals defensive back and score a 47-yard touchdown within span of four plays.

Moss’ hard-work in the run game was recently spotlighted by offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who had plenty of positive things to say about some of the guys on offense who are doing the dirty work behind the scenes, Moss included.

Truth be told, Moss has added value to the 49ers in the run game, not just the pass game. That aspect was covered in depth by Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

“Moss has been only a small part of the 49ers’ success on the field. He has 13 catches – fifth on the team – for 235 yards and two touchdowns,” Barrows wrote. “He’s been the team’s third- or fourth-most used wide receiver, depending on the game. On many plays, he’s merely a decoy, lining up far wide of the formation and taking a cornerback and safety downfield with him as Alex Smith hands the ball to Frank Gore.

Barrows went on to write, “The fear heading into the season was that a disengaged Moss would be a disruptive Moss. That he hasn’t had a large role in the passing game, however, doesn’t mean he’s not plugged in. Along with everyone else – the media, opposing coaches, opposing linebackers – Moss appears to be rapt by the 49ers’ complex running attack.”

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Morning Tailgate: Nov. 8

Posted by Taylor Price on November 8, 2012 – 11:20 AM

There’s no question that the San Francisco 49ers are off to a great start this year, several players deserve recognition for it, too.

But so does the football staff. Without the efforts of equipment manager Steve Urbaniak, there’s no way the team would function on gameday.

Urbaniak and his staff make sure everything goes as smooth as possible. The efforts of the tenured equipment man were profiled recently by Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. In the piece that ran earlier this week, Baxter explained the challenges that come along with a under publicized role in the NFL.

“Although many NFL teams — including the Raiders — train a short distance from their home stadium, the 49ers’ practice facility is 40 miles south of Candlestick Park, meaning Urbaniak and his crew must pack a semi-trailer two days before every game and unpack it again when the game is over,” Baxter wrote.

Urbaniak’s role is further described in the story. But for fans looking for visual aid, check out this 2010 TV49 video of our own Scott Kegley spending “A Day in the Life” as an equipment intern.

Trust me, it’s good stuff.

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Posted in Morning Tailgate | 35 Comments »

Randy Moss Visits with Lil Wayne

Posted by Taylor Price on November 7, 2012 – 3:00 PM

It’s not often you get one of the world’s best entertainers and football players in the same room, but that’s what happened weeks back when multi-platinum recording artist Lil Wayne came to 49ers headquarters to shoot an interview with future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss.

The interview, which features the hip hop artist asking the 49ers wideout about his remarkable playing career and many other topics, airs this Sunday morning at 7 a.m. PT on ESPN’s Sunday Countdown Show.

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Morning Tailgate: Nov. 5

Posted by Taylor Price on November 5, 2012 – 11:04 AM

Fresh off a bye week, the San Francisco 49ers remain in first place of the NFC West with a 1.5 game lead over the Seattle Seahawks, who defeated the Minnesota Vikings 30-20 at home on Sunday.

The 49ers, themselves, will play a third consecutive division game in Week 10 when the St. Louis Rams visit Candlestick Park.

While the Rams are alone in last place in the NFC West at 3-5, Sunday’s game remains pivotal for both teams.  Since 2000, 29 teams have reached the halfway point of their season with a .500 or below winning percentage and proceeded to the playoffs, including at least one in each season.

The 49ers aim to make sure the Rams aren’t the 30th team to make the group.

San Francisco is coming off a strong showing in Week 8, a 24-3 win over Arizona that featured impressive quarterback play from Alex Smith.

The NFC’s Week 8 Offensive Player of the Week’s performance was reviewed in greater detail by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who believes the 49ers remain Super Bowl contenders heading into the second half of 2012.

“I really like what I’ve seen out of him this year, mostly,” King wrote about Smith, who is second in the NFL with a 69.4 completion percentage. “He’s as accurate an intermediate passer as I’ve seen this season. I think he’s going to be asset, not a question mark, as the 49ers make a Super Bowl push.”

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Posted in Morning Tailgate | 46 Comments »

Morning Tailgate: Nov. 2

Posted by Taylor Price on November 2, 2012 – 10:45 AM

Randy Moss has caught 13 passes for 235 yards and has two touchdowns, plus a team-leading average of 18.1 yards per reception in his first eight games with the San Francisco 49ers.

The future Hall of Fame wide receiver has had a positive impact on his teammates and has enjoyed learning the offensive concepts of coordinator Greg Roman. Moss shared these insights in a recent interview with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

The 49ers wideout who caught a 47-yard touchdown last week in Arizona (photographed above) also tells CSN he plans on being a (high school or junior high) coach when his playing career is over.

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Posted in Morning Tailgate | 107 Comments »

Morning Tailgate: Oct. 30

Posted by Taylor Price on October 30, 2012 – 11:21 AM

The San Francisco 49ers have returned from the desert with a two-game lead in the NFC West following Monday’s 24-3 dismantling of the Arizona Cardinals.

Alex Smith turned in a near-perfect night, completing 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Only a Delanie Walker dropped pass on a crossing route stood as his only incompletion on a national stage.

Because of Smith’s accurate game, the eighth-year quarterback leads the NFL with a 69.4 completion percentage.

Smith joked after the game that his confidence never went away after back-to-back games with just one touchdown pass combined. “It was in my closet,” Smith said in comments shared by Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Smith and his 49ers teammates will remain confident heading into the bye week. The 49ers will have the week off before coming back early next week to prepare for a Week 10 home game against the St. Louis Rams.

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Posted in Morning Tailgate | 65 Comments »

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