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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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Morning Tailgate: Sizing Up the Defense

Posted by Alex Espinoza on March 28, 2013 – 10:56 AM

As the NFL Draft approaches, many are pegging the 49ers to pursue defensive line depth with their league-high 14 picks. Mike Sando of ESPN.com took stock of the d-line and 2013 prospects for Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and free-agent signee Glenn Dorsey.

“McDonald and Justin Smith had both played at least 85 percent of the defensive snaps through Week 15, which was when an arm injury forced Smith to the sideline until the playoffs,” Sando wrote. “Tampa Bay (three) and New Orleans (two) were the only other teams with more than one defensive lineman logging 85-plus percent of his team’s snaps to that point in the season. The Bucs and Saints had a combined seven other defensive linemen logging at least 30 percent of the snaps to that point. The 49ers had none.”

The rest of today’s Morning Tailgate looks at the 49ers secondary, NFL Draft news and more.

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Morning Tailgate: Dec. 12

Posted by Taylor Price on December 12, 2012 – 9:29 AM

Earlier this week, we discussed Aldon Smith’s chances of winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. Sports lllustrated’s Peter King believes the 49ers outside linebacker and league’s sack-leader (19.5) has a serious chance of taking home the honor if he’s able to break the NFL’s single-season sack record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan.

If able to break the record, Smith might pick up even more hardware according to ESPN.com’s Mike Sando, who lists Smith at No. 10 on his latest MVP Watch post.

“Smith has 10 sacks in his last four games,” Sando wrote in his explanation for Smith’s inclusion in the Top-10. “He has 15 sacks in his last seven games. For perspective, consider that Hall of Famer Bruce Smith finished two of his 19 seasons with 15-plus sacks.”

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Morning Tailgate: Nov. 30

Posted by Taylor Price on November 30, 2012 – 10:19 AM


Time and time again the San Francisco 49ers have proven to be a united front. Two recent examples shed a bright light on the team-oriented locker room.

According to CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, teamwork was involved in the recent five-year contract extension for All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Three players, Vernon Davis, Carlos Rogers and Ray McDonald, all restructured their contracts to give the 49ers enough cap flexibility to sign the talented linebacker long-term.

The other example would be the professionalism shown by Alex Smith in the wake of Jim Harbaugh’s decision to start Colin Kaepernick Sunday in St. Louis. In order to understand the potential reasoning for the move, Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports caught up with a cast of Harbaugh’s former teammates to learn more about the 49ers coach’s playing career as it relates to his coaching decisions.

Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk told Silver, “I’m pretty sure about the fact that this is not a game-playing thing for him. It’s for the greater good of the team. There is no personal gain for him. Everything he does is for the greater good of that team, and he’s not going to deviate from that.”

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Gameday Story: Everyone Loves Ray

Posted by Taylor Price on October 19, 2012 – 12:56 PM

The San Francisco 49ers have one of, if not the, best rush defenses in the NFL. Filled with multiple All-Pro and Pro Bowl players, it’s hard for all 11 deserving players to get recognition.

One of the most unheralded defenders is defensive tackle Ray McDonald, a hard-working lineman who’s earned the respect of his teammates and coaches with his consistent approach.

McDonald continues to be at the forefront of San Francisco’s tough defense and maintains his role as one of the locker room’s favorite players. This week’s Gameday Magazine cover story touched on McDonald’s respect amongst his peers in their words only.

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Morning Tailgate: Aug. 9

Posted by Taylor Price on August 9, 2012 – 10:30 AM

The 49ers are one day away from kicking off the 2012 preseason, and it appears as though first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins is putting together some of his best practices leading up to Friday night’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

According to CSNBayArea.com’s Matt Maiocco, the No. 30 overall pick had the best day of any 49ers receiver in training camp on Tuesday. Jenkins caught six passes in team and 7-on-7 drills, and told Maiocco he still found areas he can improve on following his solid day of practice.

Jenkins’ steady improvements won’t be seen today. The 49ers will have a “Mock Game” this afternoon without media in attendance. After, coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Alex Smith will speak with the reporters.

More 49ers headlines can be found after the jump.

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Defense Competes: Left Side vs. Strong Side

Posted by Jacob Most on August 8, 2012 – 4:25 PM

For football fans the world over, the film “Remember the Titans” is a classic. Members of the San Francisco 49ers defensive unit have used one particular scene from the movie to bolster an already strong and unique team chemistry.

One of the more memorable scenes of the film pitted fellow linebackers and Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell shoving and yelling “left side” and “strong side” at one another respectively in a moment that represented a turning point in the team’s first training camp.

A similar friendly rivalry has developed within the 49ers, one that is pitting outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks and defensive tackle Ray McDonald on the left side of San Francisco’s 3-4 scheme against outside linebacker Aldon Smith and defensive tackle Justin Smith on the right.

Brooks spoke about his and McDonald’s reenactment of the scene, which they first did last season, when he met the media on Wednesday.

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Ray McDonald Comes Into His Own

Posted by Jacob Most on August 3, 2012 – 5:55 PM

Defense has dominated the past two days at 49ers Training Camp presented by HP. Defensive lineman Ray McDonald has been a major contributor to that dominance.

In the early part of camp, McDonald has not missed a step entering his sixth season on the 49ers defensive line. It’s not hard to notice, even Alex Smith noted the defensive line’s effectiveness when he met with the media Friday afternoon.

“They are a fun group,” the 49ers quarterback said. “It is infections. Ray is a big part of that. He is really coming into his own as a teammate and a leader.”

The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder is coming off a breakout season in which he registered career highs in three categories with 93 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

“For the past four years I was a situational player and then they gave me a chance to go in and start,” McDonald said. “I wanted to take advantage of my opportunity . . . I wanted to make the most of it. I did that last year so I am just trying to build off of that.”

The Pahokee, Fla., native who now lives permanently in the Bay Area, continued to improve into the playoffs last season contributing 2.5 sacks in the NFC Championship Game. McDonald’s 2.5-sack performance tied him for the second-most sacks by a 49ers player in a postseason game.

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Tony Jerod-Eddie Gets His Kicks

Posted by Taylor Price on June 1, 2012 – 11:05 AM

As an undrafted rookie in the National Football League, there’s plenty of juggling taking place off the field. Players have to manage their time efficiently while learning a new playbook, the name’s of veteran teammates and the coaching styles of a new staff. That happens all while rookies adjust to a new environment in a new city.

Apparently, defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie has taken the juggling term to the field, literally.

The 6-foot-5, 301-pound Texas A&M product could be spotted passing a soccer ball around with defensive line mates Will Tukuafu and Isaac Sopoaga prior to Thursday’s Organized Team Activity in Santa Clara.

It wasn’t so much seeing the players kick the ball around that was surprising, it was the juggling skills of Jerod-Eddie that was rather astonishing. The massive lineman had no problem flicking the soccer ball from foot to foot while defensive teammates looked on.

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Morning Tailgate: May 18

Posted by Taylor Price on May 18, 2012 – 9:07 AM

If you were attempting to rank the top 100 players in the National Football League, it would be hard to not list just about every member of the San Francisco 49ers defense among the group.

Following a 2011 season in which the 49ers allowed three rushing touchdowns (t-5th for fewest allowed in NFL history since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978), the 49ers defense seemingly left a lasting impression on every member of the national and local football media.

The defense also produced a 14-game stretch of not allowing a rushing touchdown to start the season, good for the longest single-season streak of its kind in league history. And of course, how could you look past the defense’s 36-game stretch of not allowing an individual 100-yard rusher from Nov. 29, 2009 all the way until Dec. 19, 2011? That mark tied for the longest streak in league history since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Count CBS Sports columnist Pete Prisco in the group of writers thoroughly impressed by such performances. In a recent column, Prisco offered his top 100 players in the league based on his opinions formed from film review and conversations with NFL scouts. Prisco put six 49ers on the list, including five members of the league’s best rush defense and second-best scoring defense.

Five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis checks in first at spot No. 13, followed by fellow All-Pro Justin Smith at spot No. 14. Prisco described Willis as a “tackling machine” and said it’s “an-all day battle for whover is lined up across” Smith.

Prisco lists all-time 49ers rushing leader Frank Gore at spot No. 66, noting that Gore is “one of the tough inside runners in the league.

Third-year linebacker NaVorro Bowman made the list at spot No. 72. “He emerged last year as a force,” wrote Prisco on San Francisco’s tackling leader in 2011.

Rounding out the 49ers contingent are defensive tackle Ray McDonald (No. 85) and outside linebacker Aldon Smith (No. 98). Prisco believes McDonald is slightly overshadowed because of the team’s complete defense, but noted the fifth-year lineman, “plays hard, makes a lot of plays and is starting to get the attention.” On Smith, Prisco believes the second-year pass-rusher has a chance for “so much more” production following a 14-sack rookie campaign.

More defensive headlines and the latest team news can be found after the jump.

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Posted in Morning Tailgate | 90 Comments »

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