49ers have chance to show quality

This is my Friday column. The 49ers have been by far the worst team in the NFL during the preseason. In two games, the Niners have scored three points and given up 57. That means they’ve been outscored by 54. The Cowboys have been the second-worst team in the preseason. They’ve been outscored by merely 27. That means the 49ers have been twice as bad as the second-worst team. We…

August 22, 2014

Jim Harbaugh ends open practice at Levi’s Stadium after 45 minutes

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers have been talking about the Levi’s Stadium grass all week. Its roots haven’t set, the 49ers say. The footing is no good and patches of sod are coming up. Stevie Johnson slipped on the grass 45 minutes into practice, got up and started limping. Two plays later, Harbaugh pulled the team off the field and finished practice on the practice field which is closed to…

August 20, 2014

49ers’ fill-ins can’t come up blank

This is my Saturday column. Before we get to the 49ers’ upcoming preseason game, here’s a brief history lesson. In 2010, the 49ers’ defense was ordinary. It ranked 13th in yards allowed and 16th in points given up. Four current starters were key contributors on that 2010 defense – Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Ray McDonald. After the 2010 season, the 49ers drafted Aldon Smith and signed Carlos…

August 16, 2014

Kenneth Acker picks off two passes, Devon Wylie beats Jimmie Ward three times in team drills

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me during Wednesday afternoon’s padded practice. THE GOOD 1. Colin Kaepernick. Completed 22 of 32 pass attempts during team drills. He threw two touchdowns during an 11-on-11 goal line drill – one to Anquan Boldin and one to Asante Cleveland. Kaepernick also got intercepted on a deep pass in the end zone – Perrish Cox jumped and caught the ball over Quinton…

August 13, 2014

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

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

Dontae Johnson shuts down Anquan Boldin, Brandon Lloyd and Stevie Johnson

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me at the 49ers’ second padded practice of training camp. THE GOOD 1. Dontae Johnson. Played like a monster. Broke up three passes. First, he swatted away a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Anquan Boldin in the back right corner of the end zone. You rarely see a cornerback beat Boldin on a jump ball. Next, Johnson almost intercepted a Kaepernick pass…

July 27, 2014

Vic Fangio says Chris Culliver looks really good physically

SANTA CLARA — Vic Fangio was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Friday morning. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers. You finally got to see DB Jimmie Ward on the field. Any reaction to seeing him out there running around a little bit? “He did fine. You know, he was also here last week where we had those three, they were altered practices, we didn’t have the full 22…

July 25, 2014

Regular season award predictions

It’s late June, and that means it’s prediction time. Today we’re predicting who will win the big regular season awards this year. I’ll go first. MVP and Offensive Player of the Year: Peyton Manning. Yes, Manning lost Eric Decker. But the Broncos replaced him with Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer. That’s an upgrade. And Manning gets back Ryan Clady, the All-Pro left tackle who missed all but two games last season. Defensive Player…

June 28, 2014

Is Ward a lock to start at Nickelback? Fangio: “I don’t think you can assume that.”

SANTA CLARA — Vic Fangio spoke to Bay Area reporters Wednesday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers. Are these the first real looks that you’ve been getting of DT Tank Carradine since he got here last year? “Yes. Last year at this time he wasn’t practicing, and that you guys know, didn’t practice until some point in October, November. And he wasn’t physically ready to go then….

June 18, 2014

OTA Notes: Kaepernick misses open receivers, Lloyd impresses Harbaugh and Willis, Johnson beats Johnson for a TD, and more

SANTA CLARA – This is what stood out to me at Tuesday’s OTA. THE GOOD 1. Brandon Lloyd: Best receiver on the field by far, although Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, Stevie Johnson and Quinton Patton weren’t there. Lloyd made the catch of the day. He was running deep toward sideline and Blaine Gabbert threw the ball behind him. Lloyd jumped, twisted, caught the ball and landed both feet…

June 3, 2014

49ers need to wind down Frank Gore

This is my Tuesday column on Frank Gore. SANTA CLARA — Frank Gore exchanged knuckles with the 49ers’ PR guy as he walked off the practice field before 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. The key moment of Gore’s day. Gore left just as the OTA got competitive. He stretched with the team and warmed up with the running backs. He even wore his helmet. But when Harbaugh blew his whistle to…

June 3, 2014

49ers grades and projections

This is my Thursday column. Dear player or coach for the San Francisco 49ers, This is your final report card for the 2013 season. Show this to your mother and make sure she signs her name at the bottom. COLIN KAEPERNICK: C+. I assumed you would improve, but you got worse. Somehow you became a less accurate passer, only occasionally hitting a receiver in stride. How did you get less accurate…

February 6, 2014

49ers 23, Panthers 10: Grades

CHARLOTTE – Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 23-10 divisional playoff win over the Panthers. KAEPERNICK: A-. He played terribly before the 49ers defense made their second goal line stand but, then again, most of the Niners played terribly before the second stand. After that, Kaepernick and the rest of the Niners were just about unstoppable. Kaepernick accounted for two touchdowns – a pass to Vernon Davis while rolling…

January 12, 2014

Spying the quarterback

From the Packers’ perspective, the biggest reason they lost on Sunday was their inability to contain Colin Kaepernick when he scrambled. The Packers’ coaching staff, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers in particular, did not assign a “spy” to Kaepernick in their original game plan. And once they saw him running around and breaking down their defense, they never made an in-game adjustment to incorporate a spy. Even if they had…

January 7, 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

49ers 33, Bucs 14: Grades

Here are my grades for the 49ers’ 33-14 win over the Buccaneers. KAEPERNICK: B+. He was outstanding at improvising and passing on the run. He struggled in the third quarter (3-of-10 passing) when the 49ers asked him to pass almost exclusively from the pocket – his accuracy deteriorated, his passes got tipped and he stared down his first read. But in the fourth quarter, Kaepernick moved outside the pocket and…

December 15, 2013

49ers 19, Seahawks 17: Grades

SAN FRANCISCO – Here are my grades for the 49ers’ 19-17 win over the Seahawks. KAEPERNICK: D+. He was pretty good in the first half and awful for most of the second half until his 8-yard run to seal the win on third-and-7 at the end of the fourth quarter. That’s why I give him the “plus.” He missed wide open receivers all game and completed just 52 percent of…

December 8, 2013