Growth of Nate Davis continues behind the scenes

Alex Smith is making huge strides in the minds of the 49ers’ decision-makers toward entrenching himself as the starting quarterback in 2010. But there are plenty of folks who liked what they saw from rookie Nate Davis in the exhibition season. Just to refresh, Davis showed a certain knack for playing the position after being a fifth-round draft pick from Ball State. He completed 29 of 49 passes for 314…

December 4, 2009

O-line faces tests against Seahawks and their fans

The 49ers’ offensive line will face a nice challenge Sunday against the Seahawks, who rank 17th in the league in sacks per pass play. Since the beginning of the 2002 season, the Seahawks leads the NFL in home sacks.   Also, the Seahawks’ fans are known for being among the loudest in the league. From the beginning of 2005, there have been a league-leading 91 false start penalties called on…

December 3, 2009

Question Lady wonders what 49ers fans want to know

I wanted to give my fingers a rest. Fatigue is setting in after August was spent pounding away on the keyboard with double-day and sometimes triple-day blogging. I want to be fresh for December, so we’re going with a podcast today.   The Question Lady set me up with an open-ended opportunity to speak about the 49ers’ chances of running the table, Alex Smith’s future and what the 49ers might…

November 28, 2009

Franklin should earn plenty of ‘Benjamins’ next year

Something clicked with 49ers nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin in the second half of last season. He finished strong once the 49ers went exclusively to a 3-4 defensive scheme. And he has picked up this season where he left off.   Franklin has provided the 49ers with outstanding play through the first nine games of the season. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, one of the hardest-working and most-respected reporters in the country,…

November 20, 2009

Triple-threat Gore faces big challenge against Packers

It’s rare these days in the NFL for a running back to play as much as Frank Gore. But there’s a reason he’s always on the field. Of the team’s running backs, he’s the best runner. He’s also the best pass-catcher. And he also handles all of the blocking chores that come along with it as well as anybody.   Gore must be on top of his game Sunday in…

November 19, 2009

Rodgers: 49ers hold special place in my heart

Chico native and Cal product Aaron Rodgers joined the 49ers writers on a conference call this morning. Rodgers, the starting quarterback for the Packers, opposes the 49ers for the first time in a regular season game. Rodgers said the 49ers still hold a special place in his heart. He said he holds no grudges against the team for not selecting him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2005.   Here…

November 18, 2009

Balmer, 49ers return to work

We’ll get to the news of the day, but first we’ll start you off with a helping of Kentwan Balmer, the 49ers’ first-round pick in the 2008 draft.   Balmer has not been able to crack the starting lineup ahead of Justin Smith, Aubrayo Franklin or Isaac Sopoga, but he gets action at left defensive end and some at nose tackle in the defensive-line rotation in base situations.   When…

November 17, 2009

Should 49ers fans expect playoff appearance?

Quarterback Alex Smith and rookie receiver Michael Crabtree spent extra time together after practice Wednesday. Crabtree said there were some timing issues on the interception in the game against the Titans. Smith admitted to throwing the ball late to Crabtree at the sideline. The pass was tipped and intercepted. “We talked about it and hopefully we’re getting better on that,” Crabtree said. Here’s a portion of Crabtree’s group interview session…

November 12, 2009

Davis explains why he made comments

Niners tight end Vernon Davis said he wasn’t trying to “call anybody out” or “put anybody down” on the Chicago Bears’ defense. He said he was just expressing his confidence with his comments Tuesday.   On Tuesday, Davis said, “I think we can destroy their front. The guys up front, I think we can destroy them. I don’t see anything spectacular about their front line.”   Today, Davis explained his…

November 11, 2009

Hang time is key for Lee vs. Hester

Candlestick Park has not been kind to kickers and punters. But don’t tell that to punter Andy Lee, who has established himself over the past four seasons as one of the best in the game.   Since 2006, Lee ranks third in the NFL with a 46.9 gross average and second with a 39.7 net average. The only NFL punter who clearly has better numbers during that time is Raiders…

November 11, 2009

Smith’s short week to prepare; Vernon’s bulletin-board words

Quarterback Alex Smith did not have much time to peruse the game film from the 49ers’ game Sunday against the Titans because there’s a game coming up three days earlier in the week than usual.   Smith joined me for a podcast today before the 49ers hit the practice field for one of their two practices to get ready for the Chicago Bears on Thursday.    

November 10, 2009

RJF, Balmer fill backup roles on D-line

A year ago, the 49ers took defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer in the first round of the draft. This year, they selected Ricky Jean-Francois in the seventh round. Neither will be in the starting lineup Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, but both will be in uniform.   Today, I spoke to Jean-Francois for a podcast:  

November 5, 2009

Pashos still trying to make contribution

Rookie outside linebacker Diyral Briggs earned his spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster this week the old-fashioned way: He was promoted from the practice squad.   We join this conversation in the middle as Briggs was talking about his late start playing football. He said he thought he was the “next Michael Jordan” until he was talked into playing football as a junior in high school.    

October 30, 2009

Talkin’ two-minute drill with Crabtree and Raye

The 49ers’ two-minute offense against the Houston Texans was a little rough. OK, it was more than just a little rough.   Backup quarterback Alex Smith had not run a two-minute drill in practice since as far back as the third exhibition game. Those reps go to the starting QB. And Michael Crabtree was learning on the fly when the 49ers were in a situation in which they had one…

October 29, 2009

Hill says he’s seen Smith improve over four years

Quarterback Shaun Hill was clearly disappointed Monday when he met with the media just hours after coach Mike Singletary informed him of the decision to start Alex Smith against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday.   But Hill stood there and answered every question. Here is part of his interview with reporters that cover the team.       * * *

October 27, 2009

Asking questions can be hard work

A large part of my job is asking questions. Sometimes I ask good questions. However, there are times when I ask really stupid questions. I generally know it’s stupid before my voice inflection changes to produce that final verbal punctuation.   I talked to 49ers fullback Moran Norris this week. Norris is a Houston native who spent four seasons as a fullback for the Texans before signing with the 49ers…

October 23, 2009

Crabtree talks football, Part I

Michael Crabtree met with the media today for the first time since we reported the likelihood that the rookie receiver could start in his NFL debut Sunday against the Texans.   Here is Part I of Crabtree’s group interview session:     * * *

October 22, 2009