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Morning Tailgate: Sept. 7

Posted by Taylor Price on September 7, 2012 – 10:13 AM

Two days before the San Francisco 49ers start the 2012 regular season in Green Bay, it’s safe to say the coaching staff is still using their preparation time wisely.

Coordinators Greg Roman and Vic Fangio said they’ve been preparing for the Packers since mid-April when the 2012 schedule was released. Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com shares the ways in which the Packers have been on the coordinator’s minds for some time.

“When the 49ers reported for training camp in late-July,” Maiocco wrote, “the focus was on installing the entire defensive package. But late in the exhibition season, the 49ers spent more time zeroing in on the Packers.”

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Donte Whitner Wants Turnovers

Posted by Jacob Most on September 6, 2012 – 4:05 PM

Donte Whitner would like the 49ers defense to establish an identity right out of the gate heading into the team’s Week 1 visit to Lambeau Field.

“When people say ‘49ers defense’ they are going to talk about turnovers,” the seventh-year safety said.

Turnovers were a major factor in helping the team to a 13-3 record a year ago as Vic Fangio’s unit took the ball away 38 times, tied with Green Bay for the most in the league.
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Clark Haggans is Eager to Contribute

Posted by Jacob Most on September 4, 2012 – 4:41 PM

The newest member of the San Francisco 49ers is already buying into Jim Harbaugh’s team-first philosophy.

Clark Haggans, the veteran outside linebacker signed to fill Parys Haralson’s roster spot, expressed just how much he would be willing to do to help his new team when speaking with the media for the first time since signing with the 49ers on Monday.

“If they need me to long snap, kick or fill up the water bottles I will do it,” Haggans said.

The 13-year veteran’s willingness to contribute at multiple positions is commendable, but he is expected to spend the majority of his time at outside linebacker after Haralson was placed on Injured Reserve.

After arriving in the Bay Area on Sunday, Haggans wasted little time getting into his new playbook.

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Gameday Story: Crushing It

Posted by Taylor Price on September 4, 2012 – 8:54 AM

The San Francisco 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers 35-3 in the 2012 preseason finale. Seventh-year linebacker Ahmad Brooks received a lot of exposure last Thursday night. And, he did so without stepping foot on the playing field.

With Jim Harbaugh electing to rest his entire starting defense, Brooks’ attention was largely through the team’s Gameday Magazine where he served as the second cover story of the team’s 10 home programs. The story examines Brooks’ rise in recent years as a member of San Francisco’s feared defensive attack. Photographed by Kym Fortino and designed by Ben Mayberry, the cover story also looks at the positive comments made by Brooks’ coaches this offseason after he signed a six-year contract extension with the club.

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Morning Tailgate: Aug. 28

Posted by Taylor Price on August 28, 2012 – 9:37 AM

All offseason we’ve heard commentary and prognostications from members of the local and national media as it pertains to the San Francisco 49ers.

Now, we know how Hall of Famers from the team’s storied past feel. In a recent appearance on ESPN’s NFL Live, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana joined host Trey Wingo to discuss to their former team’s outlook in 2012.

“I think with that defense they can (be successful) because they brought all the guys back,” Rice, an ESPN analyst, said. “It’s going to be up to the offense. They brought in some additional weapons to help Alex Smith out, so now he has to put the ball in the hands of the playmakers, this team is going to go far.”

Montana said he was really impressed by Smith’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis in the team’s Divisional Playoff win over the New Orleans Saints.

“That showed me confidence in his ability to throw the ball,” Montana said of Smith. “He can make those throws, now it’s about managing the game.”

The legendary 49ers quarterback stressed that Smith has to distribute the ball to the playmakers and let them create big plays.

“They should be settled in, they understand what it takes to operate,” Montana said.

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Morning Tailgate: Aug. 22

Posted by Taylor Price on August 22, 2012 – 10:01 AM

Alex Smith has impressed local reporters all training camp long with his steady development. In his second season running Greg Roman’s offensive attack, Smith has looked like an “expert” in the system according to head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Count Clark Judge as another believer of Smith’s ability to improve in 2012. The CBS Sports football writer recently visited 49ers practices and came away with that distinct impression.

“You can see it in practice when Smith runs the first-team offense,” Clark wrote, “and you can hear it from teammates who believe, as I do, that this is the season Smith shakes his critics.”

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Vic Fangio Wants More from First D

Posted by Taylor Price on August 13, 2012 – 12:56 PM

The San Francisco 49ers first-team defense allowed six points in two series of action Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings.

The 49ers won, 17-6, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio wasn’t pleased with seeing his starters allow 59- and 68-yard scoring drives that were the only points allowed in the team’s preseason opener.

“We didn’t play as well we’re capable of playing in those first two series,” Fangio said bluntly on Monday.

Christian Ponder’s 52-yard passing play on the opening drive was a result of a “busted coverage” according to Fangio.

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Tarell Brown’s Patience Pays Off

Posted by Jacob Most on August 4, 2012 – 4:32 PM

While position battles heat up at training camps across the NFL, much of the attention is placed on the snap breakdown at particular spots on the field.

Tarell Brown is a prime example of the importance in getting those reps. Just ask Vic Fangio.

“I don’t think he played a whole lot prior to last year,” the 49ers defensive coordinator said as he met the media Saturday morning. “From day one he was focused, he was learning and he was competing … I think he just took advantage of a new opportunity. Obviously when Shawntae Spencer got hurt early in camp and he missed all of camp that gave (Brown) a new opportunity and he took advantage of it. Then we just left him in there because he was playing so good.”

Brown, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound cornerback, took his chance early last camp and ran with it starting all 16 regular season games in 2011 after just five spot starts in his previous four years in the NFL.

“Patience in this league is a lot harder when you are used to being the guy,” Brown said. “A lot of times coming from a big university you are known to be that guy and when you come to the NFL a lot of times you have to wait your turn.”

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Carlos Rogers Embraces Nickel Corner

Posted by Taylor Price on August 1, 2012 – 5:56 PM

Like many of his fellow defensive teammates on the San Francisco 49ers, Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers wants to master Vic Fangio’s complete system.

The starting cornerback who re-signed this offseason for four more seasons in San Francisco, said on Wednesday that he wants to get a better understanding of his defensive teammates’ full responsibilities now that they’re all experiencing a second season under the respected defensive coordinator’s guidance.

It’s important especially for Rogers, who lines up inside as the team’s nickel cornerback against multiple receiver formations.

“Nickel is something tough,” admitted Rogers, a 6-foot, 192-pound cornerback who recorded a career-high six interceptions for the 49ers last season. “You have to know crossing routes, working with the linebackers, sometimes they take the routes deep. There’s a lot of stuff. Sometimes you’re blitzing, sometimes you may have a run gap.”

Fangio considers the position to be a linebacker-type of role. Rogers, fearless when it comes to tackling, thrived in such a role, posting 57 tackles and 18 pass breakups in 2011.

Rogers performed well in the role because of his quickness, Fangio said.

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Morning Tailgate: July 29

Posted by Taylor Price on July 29, 2012 – 11:03 AM

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp presented by HP got officially underway on Friday, but the physicality of camp will truly begin today when pads will be worn for the first time of camp.

Even without pads, Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers coaching staff made the most of the early training sessions. “You can’t waste any time, not a single minute,” Harbaugh said on Friday.

Saturday’s practice session saw several standout plays, and the continued role reversal of select backup players. Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee noted the position changes from several players on the roster: “Michael Wilhoite and Demarcus Dobbs were back to defense today; Will Tukuafu, however, played fullback … Cory Nelms has been playing safety the last two days. He also can play cornerback.”

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com noted it was a busy day for first-round pick A.J. Jenkins who saw more action due to Michael Crabtree’s absence from practice. “During the 11-on-11 session, Jenkins made three catches, including a nice grab to end practice,” Maiocco wrote. “On a previous play, Jenkins failed to hang onto a Scott Tolzien throw that was behind him. But Jenkins made the catch in traffic a short time later on a dart from second-string quarterback Colin Kaepernick.”

Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News offered this classic observation of 49ers All-Pro, All-World, defensive tackle Justin Smith: “Remember in the playoff win over the Saints how Justin Smith bulldozed left tackle Jerrod Bushrod and reached over him to grab the back of Drew Brees back near the goal? Smith did almost the same thing today, pushing his way into the pocket past rookie tackle Al Netter.”

More 49ers headlines can be found after the jumnp.

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