Meaningless exhibition? Not when you know what to watch

Here is my preview of the 49ers-Chiefs preseason game.

Five things to watch in the 49ers’ preseason game against the Chiefs Friday night:

1. Colin Kaepernick in the red zone. Kaepernick has something to prove here. As terrific as he’s played in his brief career, he needs to improve his passing in the red zone. Last season, his red zone passer rating was 83.9, nothing special. Compare that to Alex Smith whose red zone passer rating was 97.1, or Russell Wilson whose red zone rating was 104.2. Kaepernick has a rocket arm, but he’s still developing touch on shorter throws and improvisation near the goal line.

He may be the most difficult quarterback to defend in the middle of the field because he can throw the ball 70 yards and take any run the distance. But when he gets to the red zone, the field compresses and defenses don’t have to worry about the deep pass. Kaepernick becomes easier to defend.

In the Super Bowl, he failed as a passer in the red zone, throwing no touchdowns and completing just two of seven passes. On his final play, it was fourth and 5, he threw a pass out of the back of the end zone. Even if Michael Crabtree had gotten himself open, he would have had no chance to catch the ball inbounds.

Kaepernick and the first-team offense has been practicing red zone passing all offseason, especially this past week. The starters should play the entire first quarter Friday night. If Kaepernick drives the offense to the red zone, watch to see if he’s improved his touch and decision-making in a short field.

2. The tight ends. Since Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles’ tendon in May and Anquan Boldin became the 49ers’ de facto No.1 receiver, the question has been who will be the No. 2 receiver? The answer may be a tight end.

The tight ends have been the story of training camp. The 49ers have four good ones – Vernon Davis, 2013 second-round pick Vance McDonald, 2012 undrafted free agent Garrett Celek and 2013 undrafted free agent MarQueis Gray. Don’t be surprised if all four make the team and Greg Roman uses some three- and four-tight end formations this season with Vernon Davis split out wide.

Vance McDonald probably will not play against the Chiefs – he missed practice all week with an undisclosed injury. So, pay close attention to Gray. He wears Delanie Walker’s old number, 46, and he plays Walker’s old position, H-back. With McDonald on the sideline, Gray has been the 49ers’ second-best offensive weapon in practice this past week behind Vernon Davis. Gray makes easy catches, tough catches, short catches and deep catches, and he blocks. He was a quarterback at the University of Minnesota and he didn’t look like a natural pass catcher during OTAs when he dropped at least one pass per practice. But in training camp, he’s looked like he’s been catching passes his whole life.

3. The wide receivers. Last week against the Broncos, you only got a sneak peak of Marlon Moore, the 49ers’ current starting split end. That’s because the starters played just one series. This week, you should get much more of Moore (sorry).

He’s been the best deep threat in the 49ers’ wide receiving corps all offseason, and it hasn’t been close. He isn’t the fastest receiver in the group, but he’s a natural at catching deep passes because he fights cornerbacks for the ball and he usually wins.

There are other receivers to watch besides Moore. Watch the slot receiver battle between Kyle Williams and Austin Collie. Williams didn’t play against the Bronocs because he was recovering from a pulled hamstring. This week in practice he’s been gradually working himself back to full speed.

Collie had an excellent week of practice, leading the team in catches Wednesday afternoon. He’s currently beating Williams in the slot receiver competition.

Finally, watch A.J. Jenkins and the rest of the receivers battle for the fifth and final wide receiver spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster. Jenkins has the edge because the 49ers spent a first round pick on him just 16 months ago, but Kassim Osgood could beat him out. Osgood has outperformed Jenkins at receiver in practices and in the first preseason game and Osgood is an excellent special teams player. He could take Chris Culliver’s spot as one of the starting gunners on the punt coverage team. Jenkins does not play special teams.

4. The running backs. The 49ers’ No. 2 running back, Kendall Hunter, returned to practice this week for the first time since he tore his Achilles’ tendon in November. But he barely practiced, just a few reps. Don’t expect him to play against the Chiefs.

Until he regains all of his quickness and explosion, the 49ers need another backup running back they can rely on in the regular season. Is it LaMichael James or Anthony Dixon? James currently has the edge, but he’s fumbled in his past two games and he is not a good blocker. Dixon is an excellent blocker and he has never fumbled in the NFL.

5. The backup quarterbacks. Three quarterbacks – Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien and B.J. Daniels – are competing for two spots.

It’s pretty safe to say Colt McCoy will make the team. In April, the 49ers traded a fifth and seventh-round pick to the Browns for McCoy and a sixth-round pick. He’s the only backup QB on the roster who has started a game it the NFL.

B.J. Daniels probably will make the team, too. The 49ers recently spent a seventh-round pick on him and, although he’s just 5-foot-10, he has the arm strength and athleticism Harbaugh covets in a quarterback. Plus, Daniels can play running back, slot receiver, kick returner and punt returner.

That leaves Tolzien as the odd man out. But that doesn’t mean Tolzien will be the odd man out Friday night. Don’t be surprised if he plays the entire second half and Daniels doesn’t play at all, just like last Thursday against the Broncos.

If the 49ers already know they’d prefer to keep McCoy and Daniels, it stands to reason they would want to trade Tolzien rather than release him outright. Maybe they could get a fifth- and seventh-round pick for him.

So, if Friday night becomes the Scott Tolzien Showcase Hour, you know why.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for the Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com

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  1. 4th down play in SB was catchable, it drives me crazy when people say it wasn’t! It was only 2/3 feet from Crab’s outstretched hands and Crab had a step or 2 from the side of end-zone…

    1. Unless Mr.Gadget was flanked out wide with go go gadget arms, no one was catching that Hail Mary!

      1. Who is this Primetime guy? Is he always this stupid?

        I just logged on for the first time and saw his nonsense. Dude needs help.

      2. Prime is a douche. Posts under multiple names, welches on bets, gets banned periodically. Low life in general. Thats the short version.

      3. Let’s let video evidence tell the story. At minute 1:43 you’ll see Crabtree held at the goal line and the ball is at the 2 yard line hash mark (in the air). Minute 1:44 of the video, you’ll see the ball still in the air two Crabtree steps past the goal line. His feet aren’t even even with the bottom of the 49ers logo. Then at 1:45 of the video, he isn’t to the outward protrusion of the top of the “N” in the end zone, but the pass has been missed. He gets the second step of missing the pass down at that point before the top of the “N”. It’s the third step with the right foot that goes out of bounds.

        The long steps are a result of having to stretch out for the ball as a result of the hold. Had he not been hold, normal steps which occur after he misses the pass and is heading out of bounds show that he had plenty of room to make the catch.

        http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000160965/article/colin-kaepernick-super-bowls-last-plays-not-an-issue

    2. @Prime, I think the point that Riff-Raff was trying to make is not that Crabs should’ve caught it, but that the call should’ve been P.I. The pass high, but I still thought that it should’ve been P.I. In the end it doesn’t matter, it’s a new year and we need to focus on winning this year starting with week 1!

    3. Leave Reply,

      I’ll borrow a line from another blogger to tell you who Prime is. “Every day the good folks at the asylum allow Prime/iknoweverything about 10 minutes of Internet access. So far, he hasn’t used it wisely.”
      Enough said.

  2. grant why dont the niners disclose the nature of vance mcdonald’s injury, and why doesnt an ambitious and industrious cub reporter like yourself do some investigatin’ journalism and find out for us?

  3. After 10 starts, smith was still horrible at everything, so I am not too worried about Kap having something to improve upon.

    1. Sure, because he was a 20 year old with the worst OL in the NFL and no mentor as opposed to a 25 year old with the best OL in the NFL with a grizzled vet as a mentor.

      It’s not even apples to oranges, its apples to battleships comparison.

  4. Another excellent article Grant but I would include the nickel back as something to keep an eye on. Brock was great at the position last week. Can he keep it up?

    1. I agree, very nice article. Corner back ( Namdi and Cox) is another position and Ried and Lemonier are a couple of players im excited to watch

  5. I assume Gray went undrafted because he was pidgeonholed as a quarterback. TE is a completely new position to him, and it appears that he is so a good an athlete with such amazing intangibles that he is starting to master it. You have to give the scouting department enormous credit. Grant, I love your following comment: Don’t be surprised if all four make the team and Greg Roman uses some three- and four-tight end formations this season with Vernon Davis split out wide.

    1. Could be George. Jenkins may have the skills needed for the game but he sure doesn’t have the attitude.

  6. Pretty obvious stuff. I’ll be watching how the linebackers work together. I’ll be watching LT Davis on pass protection. I’ll be watching the center, whoever is playing. Watching the DL and how the NTs play.

    That’s far more interesting than watching the other stuff and far more important in the overall scheme of things…

    1. I missed it. Can’t find a highlight on NFL.com. They’ll post one soon. Looking forward to it.

    1. I was worried at first, but that dude is burning cats in practices and catching balls with one hand sometimes, so I’m guessing he’s going to be just fine.

  7. Grant,

    Interesting you mentioned the 4 TE sets. Have you seen this line up at practice?

    That would be pretty cool to see, especially if they can do a good job blocking in space. Really cool stuff if we can run / pass / option out of that set.

  8. A previous blog entry about how they have lined up 2 TEs in the backfield on ocassion in the pistol formation got me thinking they might keep all 4 TEs. If they are clearly better than a 6th WR I can see it happening.

    Grant, do Gray and Celek play on the ST units?

      1. They have that added value then. Though I’m guessing they both play similar roles on ST, so might not be that much added value keeping both of them.

  9. would have loved to see the niners run the “joe staley play” or even the “ice play” (isaac sopoaga) one of the 3 last passes of the superbowl!!

  10. Is there not a more exciting play in football then a blocked punt or field goal? Man I love when that happens!

      1. That’s what I meant Prime. A successful Hail Mary with one second on the time clock is another.

      2. Lee Woodall … crushes the HB at the goaline, then takes it to the house. One of the best defensive plays in 49ers history. I think that was a Monday Nighter too.

      3. That was against Buffalo in 95 I believe. It was actually Gary Plummet who made the hit and forced the fumble. Woodall scooped it up and went 96 yards for the score.

      1. Someone needs to make the tackles right? Yes and no Mid. Some of it is from not being able to do anything more than scrape over on outside runs. He’s not quick enough to get over and fill.

        He is not very good in space either. Can’t wait to watch him try to contend with the 49ers offense.

      2. That’s the job of the coach and DC to put a defense on the field that is strong in the areas that Kuechly doesn’t excel at Jack.

      3. Name one defense that Tom Brady played against that expected him to have the potential to tuck the ball and run it in for a touchdown. Most defenses don’t expect that out of immobile QBs, no matter if the QB is good or not.

      4. Foles isn’t immobile like Brady. He’s running the same read option style offense as Kaepernick for crying out loud.

      5. “If I called 20 read-option plays with Nick Foles in the game, I should be fired,”

        -Chip Kelly

        Does that sound like Foles is really considered to be a threat running the football Jack?

      6. Maybe you should have watched the game MidWest. They ran a lot of it tonight with him in there.

      7. Work before play Jack. And this isn’t really a big deal anyways. I don’t see Foles winning the starting job with the Eagles any time soon (barring injuries of course).

      8. So Kuechly got beat by a backup QB. Even better.

        Foles not only ran the read option tonight, but they also had him running the triple option, and this was before the TD play.

        Stop with the excuses. You have more of them than Carter has pills.

      9. Let it go Jack. I already said that it isn’t a big deal. If you want it to be that’s fine. But watching a backup QB scamper 7 yards for a TD during a meaningless preseason game isn’t my idea of a play being highlight reel worthy. And that’s no excuse. It’s a fact, as is my statement of work before play.

    1. Thanks, MWN. The hope the article offers is that, when he is pressed, he produces, and when he isn’t, he doesn’t. If it’s as simple as that, let him be someone else’s disappointment. A professional football player has to be either self-motivated or motivated by the positive example of his team mates. AJ doesn’t seem to be either. I should have realized it when he didn’t take Jerry Rice up on his offer to train with him. Is there any doubt that Patton — or Hall, Lockette, Moore, etc. — would have jumped at the opportunity?

      1. AJ hasn’t produced yet, but he’s saying the right things and appears to be working hard. Let’s see what happens in the next few games.

        Side note: he was getting open last game. The QBs weren’t throwing the ball his way.

      2. I agree with all you are saying, but there is something missing in his play. He plays without fight. Also he seems to lack determination, and when he is interviewed, he shows no self-criticism. Usually, although not always, the best players are their harshest critics.

    1. That would have worked if Smith was actually benched his first seven seasons ergo the puchline was flat.

      1. MWN

        Never had a backup he couldn’t lose his job to. That is a fact, as is work before play. Try to refute it. You won’t be able to.

      2. He was out with a shoulder injury for almost two seasons, took over for Shaun Hill during the middle of another season, and helped take almost exactly the same team from a prior season to the within a couple of Williams miscues of going to the Super Bowl. Nice try E, but I don’t need to refute facts.

      3. MW – Alex went as far as he could with a great defense and Frank Gore behind him. He still struggled vs the top defenses. The Giants defense owned Alex. As far as the Saints playoff win, everyone knows the Saints had a weak defense.

        1. Smith it going to have his best season as a pro this year. He’s never had as much talent around him on offense as he does right now. Andy Reid’s west coast offense suits Smith.

      4. E: You keep referring to Mike Singletary’s personnel decisions as if he was known for his keen judgment in such matters.

        Your use of facts is long on half truths and short on relevancy.

        Crab: Speaking of facts, you don’t happen to have any factual support for your assertion regarding Smith’s performance against top defenses, do you? You might also want to compare Smith’s performance against the Giants’ defense in the NFCCG against the performances of the other QBs who faced the Giants in the playoffs that year.

      5. Grant:

        Well, there still is the Alex-has-to-learn-the-entire-offense-before-he-is-effective thing from Urban Meyer. While I don’t think it will be an issue this far into his career, I wouldn’t say I was certain.

      6. I agree Grant. A lot of playmakers on offense, 3 Pro Bowlers on defense, and 2 games against Oakland and San Diego.

        I think the Chiefs are going to be in contention for a playoff spot this year (something that our good pal Hofer initially brought up soon after the Smith trade).

      7. Chiefs played Raiders and Chargers two times each last year and they still went 2-14. Chief won’t win more than six games with Alex. Take it to the bank.

      8. CB/MWN

        It happened under Nolan, Singletary, and Harbaugh. Alex couldn’t hold onto his job. It’s just a fact.

      9. E: To say that “Smith couldn’t hold onto his job” when he had a separated shoulder is asinine. Thanks for proving my point about your addiction to half truths.

      10. CB

        Buster Posey held onto his job after he had his entire left leg mangled from the shin down. Adrian Peterson held onto his job after having his knee torn to shreds. Montana held onto his job after Jim Burt broke his back.

        Stop trying to argue with me. Just bow down.

      11. MWN

        Example? Name one example of a backup of Smith who didn’t take his job. You can’t do it.

        Embrace the challenge. Name one.

      12. Prime

        Because you don’t know how to use Google. Cody Pickett was never #2 to Alex. Try again. Maybe see if you can get your mom or dad to help with that.

      13. Scout, and how did that work out for those backups/coaches who put backups in? We are talking about Alex benched due to his performance, not due to injury. You do know the difference, right scout?

        >>Montana held onto his job after Jim Burt broke his back.

        LOL. When someone deigns to compare Young to Montana, scout goes into meltdown. Now he’s trying to use Montana as a yardstick for Alex. Got it.

      14. Jack

        Damon Bruce is no hack (I gave him proper attribution). Since you’re weighing in, Jack, and since you know absolutely everything there is to know, could you help me out with this one? Did Alex ever have a #2 who didn’t take his job from him?

        Rib

        What difference? There’s no difference. Alex was benched due to injury and lack of performance. He could do it all, didn’t matter who was backing him up. Alex is a very generous, accommodating guy, that much is for sure (see Lowell today).

        I love it. Always the same three or four Smithers getting defensive about the guy. Can’t you just be Niners fans?

      15. For a guy who always spouts off telling others to be original I find it interesting that you choose to parrot Damon Bruce, a guy who himself was placed on the “B” channel over at KNBR.

      16. Jack

        I’m glad you’re interested. Damon Bruce is a classic. He’ll be around for a long time and has surpassed most of the Bay Area’s media chimps already. That is my opinion.

        That quote of his was original, and was truly exceptional in its simplicity and depth. If it can be refuted, surely you are the omniscient genius who will refute the comment, but thus far, you, like everyone else, have simply chosen to shoot the messenger, rather than address the message.

      17. >>Always the same three or four Smithers getting defensive about the guy.

        And always the same 3 or 4 Alex haters who keep dredging him up. You say you’ve moved on to the Kaep era, how about demonstrating it for a change, scout?

      18. E, if indeed you were a true 49ers fan you would have appreciated the last two years with Alex and acknowledge that a lot of the misfortune that plagued his career was in due in part to horrendous coaching.
        I guess this year under Reid will either convince haters like yourself or give you more irregular fuel to form an ignorant argument once again.

      19. Rib

        I’m no hater, but you are a Smither.

        Oh, and I think of all days of this particular season, today there is ample reason and even justification for addressing the difference between our past and our present/future.

        Check Barrows/Maiocco/Kawakami/Lynch/Branch … everybody except you seems to think the Alex angle is worth mentioning today. You’re the odd man out here, Big Guy.

      20. FDM

        A true Niners fan appreciates what Harbaugh has brought to this team over the last 2 seasons, including trading away the former QB who couldn’t get it done, in favor of the present/future QB he drafted in order to get it done.

        We will see what Alex can do without having Harbaugh hold his hand. I find that storyline truly intriguing. Alex is a worker and a good guy, he’s just not a natural leader, the likes of which the NFL requires of its winningest QBs.

      21. Yes it was original, when Bruce said it, and now you are a parrot. Come on, be original.

        As for refuting it, why would I? I thought is was funny the first time I heard it a few years ago, but it has lost it’s zing.

      22. Jack

        I attributed the quote to Bruce the first time I wrote it. That’s not parroting.

        As for originality, you’re right, it’s important. But I can’t paint like Michelangelo, so I leave the Sistine Chapel alone and refer my friends to it. Likewise, I can’t sum up Alex Smith any better than Damon Bruce did in that perfect quote, and the fact that it is 100% factual makes it even more worth citing.

        Nobody can refute it. Smithers attack the coaches. You attack the messenger. I don’t understand your hostility.

        “Why you mad, bro?”

        “What’s your deal?”

      23. >>everybody except you seems to think the Alex angle is worth mentioning today

        Barrows/Maiocco/Branch have all been complmentary towards Alex (contrary to your assertion Kawakami/Lynch haven’t weighed in). Compare/contrast that to the douche hater postings such as those from yourself and crab.

      24. Try again E. During both seasons that Smith had a shoulder injury that took him out for the year. Want more? His second season in the NFL with Norv Turner as his OC. Your turn E.

      25. Oh yeah, I forgot this. You use examples of two coaches that didn’t have a clue about the QB position whatsoever. Weak. What it was for Smith to be replaced was an elite athlete that was mentored by Smith himself. Think what you want E but the facts obliterate your biased view.

      26. E:

        That’s a good question. What are you doing on a football blog?

        Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    2. MW – You don’t need stats to know how poorly Alex played against the top defenses, Just a set of eyes, even one eye.

      1. Aaron Rodgers should get down on his knees in front of that Lombardi statue at Lambeau and thank the football gods he wasn’t drafted into the cesspool that was the 49ers under that regime.

      2. Rib – Are you saying if Alex was drafted by Packers he would’ve been a different Alex? You don’t think the great Aaron Rodgers would’ve been successful in S.F. after a year or two? C’mon man!

      3. >>You don’t think the great Aaron Rodgers would’ve been successful in S.F. after a year or two?

        With Nolan and then Sing as his coaches? Do you even have to ask that question, Crab?

      4. Crab, double that c’mon man! Every time Alex had a coach with half brain, how did he do? Norv Turner, Greg Roman? Now Andy Reid we will see for sure.
        Rodgers got sit and watch and learn from a legend for 4 years. Kaepernick had a mentor for 2 years, he publicly thanked Alex. Who did Alex have as a mentor?

      5. Coaching matters. It amazes me how many self-proclaimed experts can’t grasp that simple concept.

      6. Crab:

        You don’t need stats to know how poorly Alex played against the top defenses, Just a set of eyes, even one eye.

        If that’s true then you should schedule an appointment with your optometrist.

        Smith played 4 games against the Top 10 pass defenses last year – Jets (2nd), Cardinals (5th), Seahawks (6th), Bills (10th). He also played against the Packers, which had the 11th ranked pass defense.

        His performances in those games in terms of both Total QBR (ESPN’s proprietary QB evaluation tool) and the traditional passer rating:

        NYJ: 46.4, 78.1
        Az: 92.0, 157.1
        Sea: 35.3, 74.5
        Buff: 99.2, 156.3
        GB: 83.5, 125.6

        http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/gamelog/_/id/8416/alex-smith

        That’s two nearly perfect performances (Az, Buff), one excellent performance (GB), one slightly below average performance (NYJ), and one horrible performance (Sea).

      7. Prime/C Balls/Rib/MW – Rodgers would’ve played great as a 49er rookie, just like this list of qb’s who excelled as rookies.
        Dan Marino, RG3, Russell Wilson, Big Ben, P. Manning, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton and Joe Flacco all kicked ass as rookies…….No time needed for development with this group.
        Please stop the Alexcuses. Please.
        Go Niners!!

      8. >>If you played QB under Walsh, you would’ve probably won a Superbowl, right?

        That outcome is more likely than *anyone* winning a Superbowl under Nolan or Singletary.

      9. >>just like this list of qb’s who excelled as rookies.

        Dan Marino. Coach: HOFer Don Shula.

        RG3. Coach: two time SB winner Mike Shanahan.

        Big Ben. Coach: Bill Cowher – eight division titles and ten playoff appearances, including a SB victory.

        I needn’t go any further, you can see the point, right? Or as CB succintly put it – coaching matters

      10. Crabs you are correct. Alex wet the bed every time he faced a strong d line……

        Claude balls warning, what was your point with your post? You were really going to use Buffalo and Arizona from last year as an example? They were terrible more times than not and got absolutely trounced on multiple occasions….

      11. Crab:

        I wish I could dismiss relevant factual context as mere excuse-making. Then I wouldn’t have to actually support my opinions with any relevant facts.

        I would think that Smith’s success under Harbaugh would at least cause you to consider the possibility that poor coaching was responsible for much of his poor play early in his career.

        Also, which of those allegedly successful rookie QBs debuted on teams as devoid of talent as the 2005 49ers?

        Finally, do you really think that Rodgers being as good as he is has nothing to do with the fact that he got to sit and learn the offense for 3 years, while watching a good QB run it?

        You can believe what you want to believe, but please stop pretending those beliefs are based on a thoughtful analysis of the facts. Please.

      12. Bay – When I saw the Buffalo and Zona nonsense I couldn’t even respond.
        The broken hearted Alex fans will have their war paint on and there tomahawks choppin when K.C. has the ball in the first quarter.

      13. >>The broken hearted Alex fans

        Alex fans have nothing on Singletary and Nolan fans. You must be a fan of those coaches – I mean anybody (except alex) would have had a great career playing for those guys, right?

      14. C Balls – You seem a little uptight and tense tonight, is anything special happening tonight?
        You say Alex was successful under Harbaugh? Say what? He lost his starting job, how can that be successful?.
        If someone takes my job I’m on the streets man, not claiming success. If my boss cans me than I failed or I’m too old to perform at a high level.

      15. Bayareaastroglidefanatic:

        I believe the comment was self-explanatory, but if you require additional explanation, I’m here to help. Crab made the assertion that Smith played poorly against the top defenses. I looked at his numbers in games against the top pass defenses he faced and saw that the data did not support Crab’s assertion. I then reported what I found.

        And, while Buffalo and Arizona may have been terrible as teams, their respective pass defenses were not.

      16. Rib – Your never in a good mood bro, TGIF!! Have a brewski bro. I’ve been a N.Y. Knicks fan for 30 years and I’m still happy.

      17. Claude,
        then why so selective? Why not list the Giants game? Or the Viking game. Both were teams with strong defensive lines and Smith wet the bed against both of them…. Arizona and Buffalo ???? smh…..

      18. Crab:

        I am relaxed and enjoying myself, but thanks for your concern.

        Your logic escapes me. The mere fact that Kaepernick is better than Smith does not mean Smith failed. It just means that Kaepernick is better.

        If you want to claim that 20-6 isn’t a successful record, be my guest.

        And don’t kid yourself, you didn’t respond to the Buffalo and Arizona “nonsense” because it tended to show that you were just making stuff up. Facts have a habit of doing that.

      19. C Balls – I appreciate your stats attempt but I see defense as a whole not just as a pass defense. I gotta take my son to his football scrimmage but I’ll get with you soon old buddy. I can’t see the Niner game live because I’m in SoCal and won’t be home until about 9 p.m. I have CSN bay area sports package and NFL ticket thru Directv. Enjoy the game.

      20. Bay:

        Because neither team’s pass defense ranked very highly, so they weren’t relevant to Crab’s assertion. The Vikings ranked 24th, and the Giants ranked 28th.

        I don’t disagree with the statement that Smith had bad games last year. He did. But that wasn’t what Crab wrote. Crab wrote that Smith didn’t play well against the top defenses. The data suggests otherwise.

        See, it helps if you actually know what the conversation is about before you comment on it.

      21. Crab:

        I also live out of the area and won’t get to see the game until NFL Network shows it tomorrow.

        Have fun at your son’s scrimmage. That’s a lot more important than an NFL exhibition or arguing about what happened last year.

      22. Bay hate how do you think jersey sales are going for the Chiefs and Alex so far? At the end of the day the organization will make the best decision moving forward of wether to extend him or not based on the bottom line. It’s a sound business decision principle.

  11. Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, San Diego.
    There might be four preseason games on the schedule,
    but the first quarter tonight at Arrowhead Stadium
    will define the Niners for the rest of 2013/14.

    Alex versus Colin… mano a mano.
    Does Coach Harbaw have his boys ready for a football fight?
    Gut check.

    1. I’m thinking that the first quarter tonight means very little to nothing at all. The team is trying to get back into football physicality. There isn’t a game plan. There isn’t even any real preparation for an opponent. Instead, it just about trying to execute.
      The first game that will set the tone for the 2013/2014 season is week 1 against GB. Anything before that is just fodder for the fire.

    2. You got it backwards, ASFNP. Niners, defending NFC champs, odds-on favorites to go all the way this year, have nothing to prove to a inter-conference opponent in a preseason game. Chiefs – new coach, new system, new QB, trying to bounce back from a horrendous season have much to play for. Chiefs probably win this meaningless game. Good for them.

  12. Jr. says the 49ers are keeping 4 TE’s but only 5 WR’s?

    Ahhhhh…..

    NO

    The fact that the 49ers don’t even have a clue who the #2 WR or WR’s will be at this point tells me otherwise.

    As for the Back-up QB battle it doesn’t make any sense to trade or cut Tolzien who the 49ers like, and yet keep a very precious Roster Spot for a “Swiss Knife” type of player that’s really not a True NFL QB at this point?

    B.J. Daniels wasn’t even drafted to boot?

    Nonsense Jr.

    1. We may be surprised by who does and doesn’t make the first 53. JH hinted that distribution by position groups might seem out of balance as they keep ‘football players’ over position formulas. In that context keeping 4 TEs while a little unlikely, isn’t out of the question.
      Is there a position group that won’t offer tough cuts & surprises? I’ve mentioned before the unusual possibility they keep 5 OLBs and expect Harralson, Cam Johnson and Lemonier to contribute on kick coverage teams. WR? RB/FB?
      It’s like the last two weeks before the draft; your head begins to spin at the possibilities!

    2. folsom49er:

      You have your facts mixed up. BJ Daniels was drafted by the 49ers in the 7th round of this year’s draft. Scott Tolzien went undrafted in 2011.

    3. Keeping 4 TEs can make sense if (a) the 4th TE is better than any 6th WR they’d otherwise keep (b) they intend to use more TE heavy formations this year (c) the backup TEs play key roles on STs, and (d) the TEs on the roster provide some versatility.

      It isn’t hard to imagine at this point that Celek and Gray will be better football players than a 6th WR this year, and we’ve already seen Harbaugh and Roman like using 2 TE sets regularly. At Stanford they used 3 and 4 TE sets.

      In terms of ST – Grant pointed out above that both Celek and Gray play in the ST units.

      From a versatility point of view – both Davis and McDonald have the ability to line up anywhere. Celek is more of a traditional inline TE, while Gray is more of the H-Back, but again as per Grant has been lining up all over. Plenty of versatility.

      So yeah, I’d say it isn’t out of the realms of possibility they keep 4 TEs.

    1. Not sure what to expect from the Eagles this year. I watched Kelly for many years at Oregon, I am not sure how it will translate to the NFL. However I do believe we can expect the unexpected from Kelly whether it be the read option, or the spread, coupled with the hurry up. Football is going to be real interesting this coming year.

  13. Not to suggest that you will see none but the play variety will certainly temper the amount of improvement you’re likely to see in the red zone tonight.

  14. Been away for a couple of days whats trending around here?…………OH MY GOD you’re kidding me Alex Smith i’m shocked. Inside the 49ers the blog spot for the OCD

  15. Ok Coach – Trending Topics.

    1. 80% of the room wants Jenkins cut.

    2. Prime has a bad reputation with some newbies.

    3. My Dodgers are unbeatable.

    4. Andy Lee is the most dominant player on the 49ers.

    5. Today, I bought a 61 cadillac for $300 (to restore).

    1. Dodgers will always stink no matter their win/loss record. They are the Dodgers=dirt…

      Oops! gotta go…

  16. Paul i love the old caddies they truely are classics Jenkins is’nt getting cut he will cost too much so just learn to live with AJ for one more yr and theres a simple way to stop the Dodgers just implement a salary cap.

    1. Jenkins was catching puts in the beginning of camp or mini camp something like that… I guess now he is just focusing on being a WR. This guy needs time to develop. Poor, but this is the NFL… keeping him could be costly if Osgood and/or Lockett are our top gunners on special teams. Also would like to see Gray and Daniels (ex-QBs) make the team and actually play instead of baby sitting empty space.

      He has 2 weeks to pull it together or I say true evaluations on roster cuts need to be discussed…

  17. From an adult on Lowell’s site:

    “I just can’t help it. I’m utterly ecstatic Alex dons another uni now. I didn’t see this coming same time last year, but what a delightful surprise to see a truly dangerous QB emerge off the bench and finally end the Alex era, the mediocrity, the timidity of play, the willingness to fail and be replaced repeatedly, the bust. Super nice guy, super mediocrity, super overly paid. I care not at all about Alex’s trials and tribulations.

    I expect Kaep to have his growing pains. He is still very much a work in progress and his favorite receiver is out with injury for most, if not all, of the season. But the offense has a chance to explode with him at the helm. This combustible opportunity has not existed here for a VERY long time.

    Alex who?”

    Sums it up perfectly.

      1. Lol, good one scout. What you claim to *have been* here is obviously a joke with every posting you make.

      2. Why do Niner fans love a Packers QB named Aaron Rodgers, even after he welched on a bet last season E?

      3. Rib and CB and MWN

        Y’all are Alex defenders to the death. I’m okay with that. I agree that coaching matters. I think Coach Fraud Singlemind was the biggest conartist the Bay Area sports community has ever known, and it’s time to move on.

        Keep up the fervor. Your backbones are stout. Check y’all postgame.

      4. Barry Switzer shows that coaching doesn’t matter. if Troy Aikman can win a superbowl with Switzer as the coach, there was no excuse for Alex Smith not to have done the same if he were anything more than average.

  18. @mattbarrows Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith having a talk at the 28-yard line. No thwacking of shoulder pads yet …

    1. Not a classier guy in all of sports. Got beat out by a better guy, never complained against horrible management and played as tough as they come. Tons of respect for Alex Smith.

  19. couldn’t disagree more about Tolzien, he is the only guy of value at backup. If the worst happens & CK7 goes down you have a career schlub who tosses lots of INT’s or BJ who will probably be put on practice squad or make team as diff position.

    Nobody knows the system like Tolzien, therefore he has the most value to run it in more traditional Walsh form.

    if you go with Colt, you have a guy who is learning as he goes.

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