Why Harbaugh is so good

This is my Sunday column on what makes Jim Harbaugh a good head coach. SEATTLE — Serious question — what makes Jim Harbaugh a good head coach? Clearly, he is a good coach. His record reflects that. More than three wins for every loss as a head coach in the NFL. But Harbaugh doesn’t call his own plays like Bill Walsh or Sean Payton, and Harbaugh isn’t a defensive specialist…

January 18, 2014

49ers 23, Cardinals 20: Grades

Here are my grades for the 49ers. They beat the Cardinals 23-20 on a last-second field goal by Phil Dawson. KAEPERNICK: B+. Excellent in the first and fourth quarter, bad in the second and third quarter. He was flagged for a delay-of-game penalty on the final drive of the game, but he also made two beautiful throws on that drive – one to Anquan Boldin for 18 yards and one…

December 29, 2013

49ers 34, Falcons 24: Grades

SAN FRANCISCO – Here are my grades for the 49ers. They almost blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, but ended up beating the Falcons 34-24. KAEPERNICK: B. His passer rating was 108.6 and he ran for 51 yards and a touchdown against a terrible defense. He also completed just 13 passes, and only a few of his completions actually hit his intended receiver in stride. All night, receivers had to adjust…

December 23, 2013

Return to the NFL winner’s circle

Here is my Sunday article on the last great moment at Candlestick Park. This article runs in the Press Democrat’s Sunday sports section. SANTA CLARA — A few days before the last game ever played at Candlestick Park, Vernon Davis walked off the practice field talking to Frank Gore after a morning walkthrough. Davis had agreed to do a one-on-one interview after the walkthrough about the last great moment at…

December 22, 2013

Harbaugh: “Beware of unnamed sources. They speak with forked tongue.”

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.   How do you replace FB Bruce Miller and everything that he brought to the table? “Well, a fantastic football player, does so many things for us. [RB] Anthony Dixon will step up and do a great job, as he has been doing in that backup fullback role….

December 19, 2013

Harbaugh on Kaepernick: “There were 30-yard lasers on the run. Just haven’t seen anybody ever do that.”

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke in the defensive meeting room Monday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.   Opening Comments: “We’re glad to see you. We’re glad to be back. It was a great win for the team. We’re very excited about it. The biggest thing is the guys worked hard for it. They worked hard in their preparation. They worked hard in the…

December 16, 2013

49ers 42, Jaguars 10: Grades

Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 42-10 win over the Jaguars. Quarterbacks: A. One of the best games ever by a quarterback who completed just 10 passes. Kaepernick scored three touchdowns, one passing and two rushing, and he averaged 10.2 yards per pass attempt and 9.3 yards per rush attempt. He made 10 breathtaking plays in the first half alone – designed runs, scrambles, pump fakes, passes on the…

October 27, 2013

Roman on the NFL’s new read-option rules: “The interpretation could be abused.”

SANTA CLARA – Greg Roman spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here’s a transcript. ROMAN: Afternoon. Excited to move into the regular season. I think we’ve had a very productive preseason-phase. I’d like to thank everybody that was a part of the team during that time. We’re set and ready to go. We had a great practice yesterday and looking forward to having another great one today. Any questions?…

September 5, 2013

49ers 41, Chargers 6: Grades

Here are my grades for the 49ers in their 41-6 preseason win over the San Diego Chargers. QUARTERBACKS: B+. Colin Kaepernick completed three short passes and then left the game. Colt McCoy was decent, completing 8-of-15 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.  His longest completion was a 12-yarder. B.J. Daniels played well, better than McCoy. Daniels completed 5-of-9 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown, and he ran 6…

August 29, 2013

Scott Tolzien deserves better than to leave on a fade route

Here is my Wednesday column. Scott Tolzien is no longer a 49er. He deserves a proper goodbye. The 49ers’ third-string quarterback the past two seasons got cut on Monday. He was a terrific quarterback at the University of Wisconsin, the Johnny Unitas Award winner in 2010, but no team drafted him after his senior season. His arm wasn’t strong enough for the NFL then, it isn’t strong enough now and…

August 28, 2013

49ers 34, Vikings 14: Grades

SAN FRANCISCO – Here are my grades for the 49ers in their 34-14 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings. QUARTERBACKS: B. Colin Kaepernick played 17 snaps and played well, although he failed in his first appearance in the red zone, getting his pass tipped away on third-and-11 from the 12 yard line. But Kaepernick succeeded in his second red zone appearance. On third-and-goal from the five, Kaepernick rolled right, spotted…

August 25, 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

Training camp report: Jenkins shut out, Brown moves to nickelback

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me during Monday afternoon’s padded practice. THE GOOD 1. Tarell Brown – He returned to practice after missing the last two and was the starting nickelback in place of Carlos Rogers. Brown gave up just one catch while playing nickelback – a 15-yard completion to Austin Collie. 2. Aldon Smith –He sat out for an hour during the middle portion of team…

August 12, 2013

49ers 6, Broncos 10: Grades

SAN FRANCISCO – Here are my grades for the 49ers’ 10-6 preseason loss to the Denver Broncos. QUARTERBACKS: C. Kaepernick was perfect – four completions in four attempts for 38 passing yards. He also converted a third down with a six-yard scramble. His backups, Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien, played dreadfully. McCoy completed three-of-four passes, threw one interception and left the game with a neck stinger. Scott Tolzien completed 15-of-26…

August 8, 2013

Training camp report: Patrick Willis leaves early with an apparent right wrist injury

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me at Wednesday’s padded practice. THE GOOD 1. Marlon Moore – He was the starting split end and he caught five passes and a touchdown during team drills. He also made the catch of the day, as he’s done every day of training camp. He ran a fade route against Tarell Brown, Kaepernick threw a back shoulder pass but it was at…

July 31, 2013

Will the 49ers draft a running back?

The 49ers need a big, bruising running back, so they interviewed one at the East West Shrine Game – SMU’s Zach Line. Line (6-0, 232 pounds) rushed for 4,185 yards in his collegiate career – 265 fewer yards than SMU’s all-time leading rusher, Eric Dickerson. Line primarily rushed from the pistol and shotgun formations in college, which means he’s a good fit for the 49ers’ offense. Line isn’t just a…

March 8, 2013

49ers NFC Championship grades: Offense

ATLANTA – The 49ers beat the Falcons 28-24. The 49ers are going to the Super Bowl. Here are the grades for the 49ers’ offense. Offensive line: A. Mike Iupati gave up a sack and was flagged for a holding penalty, but the other four offensive linemen played almost perfectly. Collectively, they helped the 49ers average 5.1 yards per rush. Running backs: A. Frank Gore got the 49ers’ offense going in…

January 20, 2013

Dixon: “All week we had been saying we were going to go there and take it to” the Patriots

SANTA CLARA – Anthon Dixon spoke at his locker Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said. Q: Could you talk about your block on the fake punt? DIXON: We’ve been doing it all year. My assignment, basically, was to cut the edge cut and that’s what I did. He came off hard, he really didn’t see me, kind of had his head down. I just cut him. Q: Have you been…

December 18, 2012

49ers Week 14 grades: Offense

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers beat the Dolphins 27-13. Here are the grades for the 49ers offense. Offensive line: C. They’re a big, strong run-blocking line that struggles in pass protection. The 49ers came out passing in the first half and the line wasn’t up to it. Anthony Davis gave up three sacks in the first half. He was a complete liability and he forced Greg Roman to abandon the…

December 9, 2012

Jim Harbaugh’s creativity

Many of you have wondered to what extent Jim Harbaugh contributes to the X’s and O’s of the 49ers offense. I asked Anthony Dixon yesterday in the locker room if he could give any insight on the subject, and here’s what he said. Q: Does Harbaugh draw up plays for the offense? DIXON: Sometimes he just makes stuff up in the room. Like, for instance, I went the wrong way…

December 7, 2012