Concussions and the dizzying array of misinformation

This is my Monday column on brain trauma in football. And this is a video the Seahawks use to teach tackling. The justifiable concern about brain damage in football borders on hysteria. This is especially true after Chris Borland recently announced his retirement after just one season in the NFL. He was worried about brain damage. Now people want to know if football is too dangerous to play, if it could…

March 29, 2015
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Report: Chris Borland retires

Chris Borland is retiring from football to avoid long-term head trauma, according to ESPN Outside the Lines. Borland is 24. In the report, Borland is quoted as saying, “Is this how I’m going to live my adult life, banging my head, especially with what I’ve learned and knew about the dangers?” I admire and respect Chris Borland’s decision, and I hope he’s OK. You may start to see players retire…

March 16, 2015
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49ers have no simple solution to Willis’ absence

This is my Friday column. SANTA CLARA It was a test. I knew the correct answer to the question I was going to ask Trent Baalke. I wanted to see if Baalke knew the answer, too. Baalke was sitting in the 49ers’ media room facing a semi-circle of reporters, answering questions about the state of the franchise. This was Wednesday, March 11 — the day after Patrick Willis retired. Losing…

March 13, 2015
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Trent Baalke answers lots of questions

SANTA CLARA— Trent Baalke answered a few reporters’ questions in the 49ers’ media room Wednesday afternoon. Here’s a transcript of the interview. BARROWS: Has Justin Smith decided whether he will retire? BAALKE: As I said at the end of the season, I think at this stage of his career, he has earned the right to make that decision when it’s right. I think he’s still sorting through that process. He’s…

March 12, 2015
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Tomsula: “I take full responsibility for the results of the coaching staff.”

This is the transcript of Jim Tomsula’s press conference from the NFL Combine, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. Opening comments: “Good afternoon and we’ll try this again. Go ahead and shoot. I’m really happy to be here and I’m excited to see you all and looking forward to the questions.”   You seemed to just reference your introductory press conference, which was criticized in some circles, you may have…

February 19, 2015
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Vic Fangio: “Proud is a strong word. You’re never happy in defeat.”

This is the transcript of Vic Fangio’s Tuesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ p.r. department. So, you have a new linebacker. How do you expect to work with him over the next few days to get him ready for Saturday’s game? “We just have to do our best to get him acclimated to the system. He’s going to have to do a great job of studying. Obviously, his work…

December 16, 2014
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49ers 7, Seahawks 17: Grades

SEATTLE – Trent Baalke folded his arms and hung his head in shame. The 49ers’ season was over. The Niners and Seahawks were shaking hands at midfield and Baalke was staring at his desk in the press box. Bad look, Trent. Time to face the failure you created. KAEPERNICK: C. Played like Alex Smith. Didn’t turn the ball over – a first for Kaepernick against the Seahawks. Yes, he scored…

December 14, 2014
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49ers 13, Raiders 24: Grades

OAKLAND – Before we get to the grades, let’s have a moment of silence for the Jim Harbaugh Era.       That’s enough. KAEPERNICK: Ω. He gets an omega, the last letter in the Greek alphabet, because English just won’t do. An ‘F’ isn’t low enough. A ‘Z’ isn’t low enough. This was the worst performance of Kaepernick’s career, the kind of performance that gets a quarterback benched and…

December 7, 2014
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49ers 3, Seahawks 19: Grades

SANTA CLARA – Jed York can’t blame Vic Fangio for this one — the 49ers’ defense gave up just one touchdown. It was the offense that failed to show up for the third game in a row. Here are the grades. KAEPERNICK: Z. Worst game of his career. His passes were inaccurate, his downfield vision was poor and he forced passes to covered receivers. Is there any doubt which team…

November 27, 2014
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49ers 27, Saints 24: Grades

They aren’t dead yet. The 49ers beat the Saints 27-24 in overtime Sunday afternoon, handed Sean Payton his first loss in the Superdome since 2010. Now the 49ers are 5-4. Here are their grades. KAEPERNICK: B+. It was fourth-and-10 from the Niners’ 22-yard line, one minute and 34 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Niners’ down by three. Kaepernick had to save the game. He rolled to his right. Nowhere…

November 9, 2014
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49ers 10, Rams 13: Grades

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers just gave away a game to the Rams, a dreadful team that was trying its best to lose. Here are the 49ers’ grades. KAEPERNICK: D+. Was that him? Didn’t look like it. Whoever was wearing the red No.7 jersey looked timid, tentative, not explosive at all. Averaged just 7.18 yards per pass and 2.8 yards per carry, converted 3-of-12 third down and scored no touchdowns…

November 2, 2014
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Vic Fangio: “I didn’t do a good enough job coaching and we didn’t do a good enough job playing.”

SANTA CLARA — Here is the transcript of Vic Fangio’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. Does it look like you’re going to have LB Patrick Willis back in your defense this week? “It’s questionable right now.”   Going back over that Broncos game, do you wipe away some of that since he was out of the lineup, a lot of the other guys were out of…

October 30, 2014
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Vic Fangio says Ahmad Brooks is overweight

SANTA CLAR A — Vic Fangio was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Tuesday afternoon. Here’s a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. staff.   How did NT Ian Williams play? I know it wasn’t a lot of snaps, but how did he look? “He did fine. I was pleased with the way he played. I was hoping to get him a few more snaps but he started tightening up a…

August 26, 2014
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Jim Harbaugh: “predicting how many times we’re going to throw the ball isn’t something that I think is in our best interest.”

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh was interviewed by Bay Area reporters in the 49ers’ auditorium Tuesday morning. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. staff.   After going over the game on Sunday, are there still a lot of areas of concern that you have? Or did the film study kind of clear up some of the things that concerned you afterward? “We’re working. We’re working to improve. It’s an…

August 19, 2014
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Chris Cook intercepts two, Quinton Patton catches eight

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me during Monday afternoon’s padded practice in Levi’s Stadium. THE GOOD 1. Chris Cook. His biggest weakness is defending the deep pass and he picked off two of those today. First he picked off a deep pass intended for Devon Wylie (Josh Johnson threw it), and then Cook picked off a deep pass intended for Chuck Jacobs (Blaine Gabbert threw it). Cook…

August 4, 2014
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Colin Kaepernick throws touchdown passes, Anquan Boldin throws punches at Darryl Morris

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me at Friday’s padded practice. THE GOOD 1. Colin Kaepernick. Completed 14 of the 19 passes he attempted during team drills. He threw three touchdown passes – one to Quinton Patton, one to Vernon Davis and one to Chuck Jacobs. This may have been Kaepernick’s best practice of camp. 2. Vernon Davis. Made five catches during team drills. One was a five-yard…

August 1, 2014
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Chris Borland on Carlos Hyde: “You can never be on your heels when he’s making a move because he can run through you.”

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what Chris Borland said about Carlos Hyde Friday morning Q: Does he look like the same running back he was in college? What do you see from him? BORLAND: As far as what he does well, I think he has carried that over. Like any rookie, there are things to learn and there is a learning curve. I think he has handled that well, too. Q:…

August 1, 2014
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Borland beats Hyde again

SANTA CLARA — Here is what stood out to me at the 49ers’ non-padded practice Thursday afternoon. THE GOOD 1. Patrick Willis. Forced a fumble. Will Tukuafu caught a pass over the middle, turned and took two steps upfield when Willis punched the ball out of his hands. 2. Michael Wilhoite. Punched a ball out of Quinton Patton’s hands during a red zone drill. Patton hadn’t taken a step with…

July 31, 2014
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Carlos Hyde: “In practice right now, you don’t get too many chances where you get to run somebody over.”

SANTA CLARA – Carlos Hyde was interviewed Saturday afternoon by Bay Area reporters outside of the 49ers’ locker room. Here is a transcript. Q: Are you excited to put the pads on today? HYDE: Yeah, I’m pretty excited. It has been a while since I’ve had the pads on. Well, I take that back. I just had the pads on when the rookies had to report. I had the pads…

July 26, 2014
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