49ers’ third exhibition may answer questions…or not

This is my Saturday column. The 49ers’ preseason game Saturday against the Denver Broncos almost matters. It’s the third preseason game, the dress rehearsal. Both teams’ starters probably will play the entire first half so they can get in rhythm and feel confident for the regular season. Here are the top-three things to watch about the 49ers. 1. The first-string offense Twelve teams have yet to score a touchdown with…

August 28, 2015

Eric Mangini on Jim Tomsula: “He cares deeply about (the players) and that resonates, I believe, in the locker room.”

SANTA CLARA — Here is the transcript of defensive coordinator Eric Mangini’s Saturday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. LB NaVorro Bowman prepared for this and you’ve got to be excited to see what he does back on the field? “He’s been great. He had a really good spring. I’ve gotten to know NaVorro a little bit since I’ve been here, but it’s different when you start coaching…

August 1, 2015

5 things to know about the 49ers before camp opens

This is my training-camp preview for the 49ers. The 49ers may be on the downswing. This offseason, they fired a top-notch coaching staff and lost almost a dozen veterans and leaders. Who will fill those voids? That’s just one key question the Niners face. Here are five more they’ll face during training camp: 1. Is Jim Tomsula a competent head coach? He’s never even been a coordinator in the NFL….

July 22, 2015

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

Patrick Willis: “I know I don’t have too much more left in these toes.”

Jed York, Trent Baalke and Patrick Willis spoke at Willis’ retirement press conference Tuesday afternoon. Willis agreed to answer questions; York and Baalke refused. Here is the complete transcript, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department CEO Jed York opening comments: “Obviously this is a bittersweet day for the San Francisco 49ers. We’re here to honor Patrick Willis, one of the best linebackers in the history of the National Football League,…

March 10, 2015

49ers announce Patrick Willis’ retirement

The 49ers just sent out an e-mail announcing that Patrick Willis will announce his retirement in a press conference this afternoon at Levi’s Stadium. Here’s a written statement from Jed York: “On behalf of the entire San Francisco 49ers organization, my family, and our Faithful fans, I would like to thank Patrick for everything he has brought to this team and our community. Some of the greatest memories in the…

March 10, 2015

Rumor: Patrick Willis to retire

The 49ers are expecting Patrick Willis to announce his retirement, according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports. If this is true, this is a tremendous blow to  the 49ers now and in the future. Willis is the Niners’ third-best player after Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman. Willis turned 30 on January 25. He missed 10 games last season because he had a strained left big toe.

March 9, 2015

Frank Gore (hip) is limited in practice

This is Wednesday’s Week 10 practice participation report, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. 49ers Did not participate: LB Dan Skuta (ankle), DE Justin Smith (not injury related), LB Patrick Willis (toe) Limited participation: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), RB Frank Gore (hip), WR Brandon Lloyd (hamstring), NT Ian Williams (shin) Saints Did not participate: LB David Hawthorne (hand), RB Khiry Robinson (forearm), T Zach Strief (chest), RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) Limited participation: C Jonathan…

November 5, 2014

Jim Harbaugh: “We’re not going to be concerned about what other people think or point out.”

SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. Have you had a chance to talk to RB Marcus Lattimore about his future yet? “He’s weighing his options and we’ll have an announcement about that, as we said yesterday. Still to come.”   Do you want to just give him space and let him have plenty of time to kind…

November 3, 2014

Patrick Willis, Tramaine Brock and Aaron Donald are questionable for the 49ers-Rams game

Here is the Week 9 game status report for the 49ers and Rams, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. 49ers Questionable: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), LB Patrick Willis (toe) Probable: CB Chris Culliver (hamstring), S Jimmie Ward (quardricep) Rams Questionable: DT Aaron Donald (shoulder), LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (toe), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), S Rodney McLeod (knee) Probable: C Tim Barnes (shoulder), WR Kenny Britt (hip), S Cody Davis (concussion), DE William Hayes (foot), CB Trumaine…

October 31, 2014

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

Grading 49ers at the break

This is my Sunday column. The 49ers just finished dead week. These are their midterm grades. COLIN KAEPERNICK Pocket proficiency: B. Was a C-minus last season. Completed just 57 percent of his passes and posted an 81 passer rating inside the pocket in 2013. Has completed 69 percent of his passes and posted a 90 rating inside the pocket this season. He’s finding the open receiver quickly and throwing the…

October 27, 2014

49ers 17, Broncos 42: Grades

The Broncos eked out a 42-17 win over the 49ers Sunday night. Here are the Niners’ grades. KAEPERNICK: D. Carried the team in the first half. Posted a 140 passer rating in the second quarter. Would have been a 156 rating if Anquan Boldin hadn’t dropped a touchdown pass on third-and-goal from the 4 yard line. Kaepernick led a 7-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that took 2 minutes and 58 seconds…

October 19, 2014

Patrick Willis and Mike Iupati are out. Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, Anthony Davis and Jimmie Ward are questionable.

Here are the 49ers’ and Broncos’ game status reports, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. 49ers Out: G Mike Iupati (concussion), LB Patrick Willis (toe) Questionable: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), CB Chris Culliver (shoulder), T Anthony Davis (knee, ankle), S Jimmie Ward (quadricep) Probable: CB Chris Cook (quadricep), CB Perrish Cox (quadricep), TE Vernon Davis (back), DE Tony Jerod-Eddie (shoulder), WR Stevie Johnson (hip), DE Justin Smith (not injury related), DT Ian Williams (ankle, shoulder)…

October 17, 2014

49ers 31, Rams 17: Grades

The 49ers dismissed the Rams 31-17 in St. Louis Monday night. Here are the 49ers’ grades. KAEPERNICK: A. His best game this season. The Rams stopped the 49ers’ run game and forced Kaepernick to win with his arm. He did. His deep 80-yard touchdown pass before halftime hit Brandon Lloyd in stride. On the opening drive of the second half, Kaepernick converted a third-and-12, anticipated an opening downfield and fired…

October 13, 2014

Jim Harbaugh on Alex Smith: “Always very happy for his success, almost all the time.”

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh was interviewed by Bay Area reporters Wednesday afternoon. Here’s a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. Is this different, just the preparation in any way, facing somebody at the quarterback position that you know so well? “To some degree it is. I think about it. When we start talking about the scouting report and it’s [Chiefs QB] Alex [Smith]. So, yeah, in some ways…

October 1, 2014

49ers 14, Cardinals 23: Grades

GLENDALE, AZ. – The 49ers lost 23-14 to the Cardinals. Here are the 49ers’ grades. KAEPERNICK: A. Gained 290 of the 49ers’ 318 total yards. Ran 13 times for 54 yards and completed 78.4 percent of his passes. Passer rating was 103.3. The entire offense was Kaepernick. Hard to win in the NFL with a one-player offense. RUNNING BACKS: D. Frank Gore carried the ball 6 times and gained 10…

September 21, 2014

49ers 20, Bears 28: Grades

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers lost 28-20 to the Bears Sunday Night. Here are the 49ers’ grades. KAEPERNICK: F. His worst game since two games ago. Looked like Tony Romo looked last week. Committed four turnovers – one fumble and three interceptions. Would have been five turnovers but one of the interceptions hit the grass before a Bears’ defensive back caught it. Also committed a delay of game penalty on…

September 14, 2014

Patrick Willis says the win over the Cowboys was “nowhere near satisfying” for the 49ers’ defense

SANTA CLARA – Patrick Willis was interviewed next to his locker Thursday afternoon. Here’s a transcript Q: Vic Fangio said the pass rush and run defense was not good against the Cowboys. What was your take? WILLIS: I totally agree with him. Even after the game, any time you get a W that’s the most important thing and W’s are hard to get in the NFL so we’ll take that….

September 11, 2014

What to watch for in the 49ers’ season opener against the Cowboys

SANTA CLARA — Here is what to watch for in the 49ers’ season opener against the Cowboys, a game I expect the 49ers will win by 10 points at least. 1. The 49ers’ pass attack. Even if Anthony Davis doesn’t play, the 49ers’ passing game should look better than ever on Sunday. The Cowboys’ defense is unspeakable. They have no run defense, no pass rush and no one in the secondary who…

September 4, 2014