49ers all in on 'next man up' philosophy

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49ers all in on 'next man up' philosophy

Rael Enteen
CSNBayArea.com staff writer 

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick are both well versed in the 'injuries open up opportunities' narrative.

Alex Smith’s concussion on Nov. 11 paved the way for Harbaugh to hand the starting quarterback job to Kaepernick, who emerged as a breakout NFL star as he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

While Michael Crabtree will be sidelined until November at the earliest as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, both Harbaugh and Kaepernick displayed more confidence than concern Wednesday after practice.

[RELATED: Crabtree out with torn Achilles]

“We have a lot of talent out here,” Kaepernick said, echoing his head coach’s sentiments. “We have a lot of great players. It’s just who’s going to step up and fill that role now.”

Minutes after Kaepernick and Harbaugh dropped the “step up” line, Patrick Willis followed suit.

“It’s an opportunity for someone else to step up,” he said.

[RATTO: Crabtree injury leaves Harbaugh with three options]

In Kaepernick’s 10 starts between the regular season and playoffs, he targeted Crabtree 92 times, compared to just 39 passes thrown to Vernon Davis and Randy Moss.

When asked why he looked Crabtree’s way so often, Kaepernick took a page from his head coach’s media playbook and kept it simple.

“He got open. That’s what you want from a receiver.”

Kaepernick was equally complimentary of two 49ers receivers who stand to benefit the most from Crabtree’s injury. A.J. Jenkins, the 2012 first-round draft pick who didn’t catch a pass his rookie season, and Ricardo Lockette, an undrafted free agent who has been Kaepernick’s roommate since he joined the 49ers’ practice squad in September, could be leaned on heavily in Crabtree’s absence.

“They’re great players that have been working hard,” Kaepernick said after throwing passes to both Jenkins and Lockette in 7-on-7 drills during Wednesday’s practice.

While Kaepernick toes Harbaugh’s ‘next man up’ line about the in-house talent, he was very vocal about his appreciation for veteran receiver Randy Moss’ leadership last season. But, like Harbaugh, he wouldn’t comment on the possibility of bringing the future Hall of Famer back in the fold.

[RELATED: Replacing Crabtree not a one-man job]

“That’s not my decision,” he said.

 

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

PHOENIX – The 49ers had a recent visit with Tampa Bay free-agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, general manager John Lynch confirmed on Sunday.

Smith, 27, sustained a torn right ACL in the Buccaneers’ season opener in September while running down the field on punt coverage against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers gave Smith a physical during his visit to Santa Clara. The club has yet to make a contract offer, Lynch said.

"We wanted to get him checked out medically, and we’ll see," Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings.

Smith (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) recorded 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seven sacks in 2015 for the Buccaneers.

After going undrafted in 2012 out of Missouri, Smith signed with Miami. He spent time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League before landing on the New York Jets’ practice squad. Smith worked his way into the Buccaneers’ defensive-line rotation in ’14 after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

The Buccaneers gave Smith the low tender of $1.797 million as a restricted free agent. Any team can sign Smith to an offer sheet. Tampa Bay would have the right of first refusal but would get no compensation if the team chooses not to match the contract.

With 71 players under contract, the 49ers have $74.5 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association.

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

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