The Skelton signing is a huge development for the 49ers and here’s why

Here is my Thursday column about the 49ers’ signing of John Skelton. SANTA CLARA – You think you know Jim Harbaugh, and then he goes and signs John Skelton as a backup quarterback. Signing Skelton is a defining move of the Harbaugh Era. Not because Skelton is good. He isn’t. He represents a dramatic shift in the 49ers’ offensive philosophy. Skelton does not fit into the offense the 49ers have…

October 3, 2013

Packers have a painful plan for 49ers, but a solution is in the strategy

Here is my Friday column previewing the 49ers-Packers game. Jim Harbaugh has to understand Clay Matthews isn’t bluffing. Matthews wants to take out Colin Kaepernick. Every Packer does. Matthews said so. If the 49ers run the read-option, the Packers will try to hurt Kaepernick. They’d be nuts not to. It’s legal. It’s smart. Knocking him out is the Packers’ best chance to win, and the read-option play is the best…

September 6, 2013

Clay Matthews says the Packers’ defense is ready for “this read-option, pistol, fake offense.”

Clay Matthews was asked about defending the read option on ESPN radio Tuesday morning. Here’s what Matthews said: MATTHEWS: “One of the things that the referees have told us is that when these quarterbacks carry out the fakes, they lose their right as a quarterback, a pocket-passing quarterback, the protection of a quarterback. So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they’re too…

September 3, 2013

This won’t be a rehearsal, this is a game to shape the 49ers’ roster

Here is my Saturday column previewing the 49ers’ Sunday preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. If you expect the 49ers to treat Sunday’s preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings like a dress rehearsal for the regular season, you may be disappointed. Most NFL teams treat the third exhibition game like a dress rehearsal. The 49ers did that last season – Alex Smith played the entire first half. But, I’ll be…

August 24, 2013

Jon Baldwin: “When I was in K.C., Steve Breaston was there. He always talked up Anquan Boldin.”

SANTA CLARA – Jon Baldwin spoke at his locker Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said. Q: Do you like your new number? BALDWIN: I like it. Q: Randy Moss had it last year. BALDWIN: Yeah, I know he did. I’m just looking forward a great opportunity here. I’m just going to work hard and learn all these plays and understand the concepts of the offense and go from there. Q:…

August 20, 2013

Getting Baldwin in a trade for Jenkins is a real win for Baalke

Here is my Monday column on the A.J. Jenkins-Jonathan Baldwin trade. The 49ers traded A.J. Jenkins to the Chiefs for Jonathan Baldwin Monday morning. Hallelujah for the 49ers. Heaven help the Chiefs. Why on earth would Kansas City trade anything for Jenkins? Why would they want him in the first place? Just this past Friday, they saw firsthand how bad he really is. Jenkins played 38 snaps and caught no…

August 19, 2013

Harbaugh on Kaepernick’s lack of playing time: “I didn’t want anything freakish to happen.”

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent Sunday morning. Here’s what he said. Q: What is the complexion of practices these final two weeks of the exhibition season? Will you still do some ones against ones, or will it be mostly scout team work? HARBAUGH: It will not change very much. It will still be one versus one, two versus two, one versus two, two versus one,…

August 18, 2013

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…

August 15, 2013

Kaepernick on B.J. Daniels: “He has the ability to make big plays and keep plays alive.”

SANTA CLARA – Colin Kaepernick spoke in the 49ers’ media tent Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said. Q: Everyone has a mentor in this league. What did Alex Smith mean to you? KAEPERNICK: He did a lot for me. Alex is someone who really helped me pick up the playbook, understand what we’re trying to get done and how we wanted to do it. I wouldn’t be as far along…

August 14, 2013

Training camp report: Harbaugh breaks up fight

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers practiced in shorts and shells Tuesday evening in preparation for Friday night’s preseason game against the Chiefs. Here’s what stood out to me during the evening practice. THE GOOD 1. MarQueis Gray – He made two jaw-dropping catches during 11-on-11 team drills. First, he ran a seam route down the middle of the field. Tolzien threw it up for Gray. Gray jumped, twisted and caught…

August 13, 2013

Harbaugh on Vernon Davis: “Every day he’s outstanding.”

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent Monday morning. Here’s what he said, courtesy of the 49ers.   A little bit better showing from the offense yesterday as oppose to at Candlestick? “Yeah that was a real sharp, crisp, tighter practice yesterday. We’ll see if we can’t come back and get two in a row.”   Were there certain players that kind of took responsibility for making…

August 12, 2013

Bowman on Wilhoite: “He’s not too far from me and Pat.”

SANTA CLARA – NaVorro Bowman spoke in the media tent Monday afternoon. Here’s what he said. Q: How much has Michael Wilhoite improved this offseason? BOWMAN: He’s definitely a lot more focused. He understands that he has a chance to be the next guy up. I think that’s what he’s been waiting for. He’s definitely earned it with giving us everything he has on special teams. Now that he’s playing…

August 12, 2013

Vernon Davis on A.J. Jenkins: “When he comes to work, he’s got to be serious.”

SANTA CLARA – Vernon Davis spoke in the media tent Monday afternoon. Here’s what he said. Q: How much has Colin Kaepernick developed this offseason? VERNON DAVIS: Colin has come a long way. Last year when he first got the starting job, we would be in practice and he would overthrow me. I would be running as fast as I possibly could and Colin just kept overthrowing me. But now…

August 12, 2013

Roman on Jenkins: “I think A.J. does a lot of really good things.”

SANTA CLARA – Greg Roman spoke in the 49ers’ media tent Sunday morning. Here’s what he said. ROMAN: Welcome. We’re entering our second preseason week. Guys are working real hard. We’re working through a lot of different situational stuff, base stuff. We’ve got the Kansas City Chiefs in our second preseason game, so it’s another great chance to get out and evaluate what we’re doing and what we’ve got. Guys…

August 11, 2013

While Raiders mix and match at QB, their best bet for future sits

Here is my Saturday column about what we learned from the Raiders’ first preseason game. OAKLAND – Dennis Allen, the Raiders’ head coach, will attempt to ride two horses at quarterback this season – Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor. Think the Alex Smith-Colin Kaepernick arrangement for the 49ers during the first half of last season. Is Allen making the right decision? Or will he fall off the horses? Allen explained…

August 10, 2013

The Jim Harbaugh Game: The coach and his world of contradictions

Here is my Monday column on Jim Harbaugh. SANTA CLARA – Here’s how you play The Jim Harbaugh Game: Listen to his next interview. Write down the exact time he sets himself up for future contradiction. Then, predict how long it will take for the contradiction to occur – a year, a month, a day, an hour, a minute, etc. Harbaugh most recently set himself up on June 11. One…

July 29, 2013

Raiders will go as far as McFadden can carry them

Here is my Wednesday column on Darren McFadden. Darren McFadden is the most important player on the Raiders this season. If they have any shot to make the postseason, McFadden must carry them. That’s because the Raiders’ defense has at least eight new starters and the passing game has more holes than Swiss cheese. The Raiders have no wide receivers to scare opposing cornerbacks, and almost zero experience at tight…

July 24, 2013

49ers facing a summer of questions

This is my Monday column on the top-five questions the 49ers face this summer. Even though the 49ers are among the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl, like any other team, they confront certain issues. Two of their best players – Justin Smith and Frank Gore – are in their 30s and declining. The 49ers’ offensive MVP last season – Michael Crabtree – tore his Achilles tendon in OTAs….

July 22, 2013

Kaepernick vs. Smith part II: Advanced stats

As we know, the statistical difference between Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith was subtle last season. So, here are some advanced stats to help differentiate the two quarterbacks: Adjusted yards per attempt: (YPA including sacks minus 45 yards for an INT) Kaepernick: 7.0 (1st) Smith: 5.7 (13th) Other notables: P. Manning: 6.5 (2nd), Brady: 6.4 (3rd) Deep Percentage (Percentage of passes longer than 15 yards) Kaepernick: 29.9 (1st) Smith: 13.8…

July 12, 2013

Colin Kaepernick vs. Alex Smith: Which QB will have the better season?

Which quarterback will have a better 2013 season – Colin Kaepernick or Alex Smith? On the one hand, Kaepernick is the superior physical talent and it isn’t close. On the other hand, Smith had the superior passer rating last season – 104.1 to Kaepernick’s 98.3. This season, Smith will have the younger and better running back (27-year-old Jamaal Charles vs. 30-year-old Frank Gore), and the younger and better No.1 wide…

July 10, 2013