49ers clinch first-round bye with 34-27 win over Rams

627162.jpg

49ers clinch first-round bye with 34-27 win over Rams

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS -- The 49ers wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs on Sunday with a 34-27 victory over the St. Louis Rams to close out the regular season.In the process, coach Jim Harbaugh became the fourth rookie head coach in NFL history to win 13 or more games. He is the first coach to accomplish the feat after inheriting a team coming off a losing record.The 49ers finish at 13-3 after going 6-10 last season. Mike Singletary was fired as 49ers coach after a late-season loss at St. Louis eliminated the 49ers from the playoff picture.Under Harbaugh, the 49ers are NFC West champions and will be heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.Gaining the No. 2 seed behind the top-seeded Green Bay Packers was of the utmost importance for the 49ers. The No. 2 seed gets a first-round playoff bye and a home game in the divisional playoffs. The No. 3 seed, the New Orleans Saints, must play next week in the wild-card round.Since 1990, a No. 2 seed has reached the Super Bowl 12 times, while the No. 3 seed has made it to the Super Bowl just twice.--The 49ers put the game out of reach late in the third quarter with some trickery that left the 2-14 Rams completely baffled.Kicker David Akers hit wide receiver Michael Crabtree on a 14-yard pass on a fake field goal. Crabtree remained on the field, near the sideline, after the third-down play. He did not re-enter the huddle before the fourth-down snap.
The Rams did not see Crabtree on the field, leaving him uncovered. When Akers added the extra point after the his first career TD pass, he broke the NFL record for most points in a season with no touchdowns. Gary Anderson previously held the record with 164 points. Akers' PAT gave him 165.Akers had field goals of 36 and 42 yards earlier in the game after missing his first attempt from 48 yards.--Quarterback Alex Smith accounted for both of the 49ers' first-half touchdowns with an 8-yard scoring run and a 28-yard pass to Crabtree, who did most of the work with a nifty run down the right sideline.--On Smith's touchdown, he slipped to the ground while avoiding Rams defensive end Chris Long. But Smith popped back up. Tight end Justin Peelle leveled linebacker James Laurinaitis with a block while running back Frank Gore blocked Chris Chamberlain. Smith then dove inside the right pylon for the touchdown.--Cornerback Tarell Brown intercepted an ill-advised halfback pass from Jerious Norwood to put the 49ers in position for Crabtree's touchdown catch. Crabtree has scored at least one touchdown in four straight games against the Rams.Brown added another interception in the fourth quarter against Kellen Clemens, who got the start in place of injured Sam Bradford. Anthony Dixon added a 1-yard TD run with 6:30 remaining.--Linebacker Patrick Willis returned to the lineup after missing three games with a right hamstring strain. Meanwhile, receivers Ted Ginn (ankle) and Kyle Williams (concussion) did not suit up.--Smith relied on Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis in the passing game. Davis caught eight passes for 118 yards, while Crabtree had nine receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Smith completed 21 of 31 passes for 219 yards and no turnovers.--The 49ers finished the regular season with 22 straight quarters without a turnover for the first time in team history.With just 10 giveaways for the season, the 49ers tied the NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season. The New England Patriots committed 10 turnovers last season.--The 49ers finished with a plus-28 turnover margin, tied for second-best margin in the NFL for a single season since 1970.--After taking a 20-7 lead at halftime, the 49ers used the opportunity to rest Gore and defensive lineman Justin Smith in the second half.--Rookie pass-rusher Aldon Smith was held without a sack. He finished the season a half-sack from the NFL rookie record. Jevon Kearse recorded 14.5 sacks for the Tennessee Titans in 1999.

Report: 49ers TE Vance McDonald available for trade

Report: 49ers TE Vance McDonald available for trade

Vance McDonald is reportedly on the trade block.

The 49ers tight end is available, according to The Ringer's Michael Lombardi.

In December, McDonald inked a five-year extension, with the final two years being club options at base salaries of $5.5 million annually.

As NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reported:

"McDonald receives a $7 million signing bonus, according to the figures obtained Tuesday by CSNBayArea.com. His base salary of $2.1 million for 2017 is fully guaranteed for skill and cap.

McDonald is scheduled to earn $3.7 million in base salary in 2018 and $4.2 million in 2019. In addition, McDonald has 46-man roster bonuses of $46,875 per game, which total $750,000 annually if he suits up for all 16 games. McDonald also has a scheduled $150,000              in annual workout bonuses for participating in 90 percent or more of the team’s offseason program.

The deal would make McDonald the 16th highest-paid tight end in the NFL if he collects all of his per-game roster bonuses.

If McDonald remains on the 49ers’ 90-man roster on April 1, 2018, all $3.7 million of his 2018 salary becomes fully guaranteed. If he’s on the roster on April 1, 2019, $3.2 million of his $4.2 base salary is fully guaranteed.

There are also incentives in the deal for receptions and receiving yards that begin with 55 receptions ($75,000) and 700 yards ($75,000)."

The 49ers took McDonald in the second round (55th overall) of the 2013 draft.

In 11 games last year, he caught 24 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

After making two selections in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, the 49ers enter Day 2 of the draft with two third-round picks -- No. 66 and No. 67 overall.

The 49ers also currently have two picks in the fourth round, two picks in the fifth round, two picks in the 6th round and one seventh round pick.

First round complete: Re-ranking 49ers' top 2017 draft needs

First round complete: Re-ranking 49ers' top 2017 draft needs

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers begin Day 2 of the NFL Draft without a second-round draft pick.

The team’s second-round selection turned into a first-rounder late Thursday evening.

General manager John Lynch packaged the 49ers’ second-round pick at No. 34 and a fourth-round pick acquired earlier in the day to move up to No. 31 for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.

The 49ers are scheduled to have back-to-back picks early in the third round at Nos. 66 and 67 on Friday.

Here’s a look at the 49ers remaining top needs:

Defensive back
During the 49ers’ voluntary minicamp, Jimmie Ward was at free safety with Eric Reid at strong safety. Jaquiski Tartt is next in line.

The 49ers parted ways with a projected starting conerback Tramaine Brock after his arrest for an alleged domestic incident. The 49ers’ first-team cornerbacks are currently Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. Will Redmond and K’Waun Williams worked in at nickel back.

Ward’s versatility makes it possible the 49ers could go with either a cornerback or safety. There is some young talent already on the roster at cornerback, but most of it is completely unproven at this level. All things being equal, it would seem the 49ers’ next pick would be a defensive back.

Quarterback
Write it in ink: Brian Hoyer will be the 49ers’ starting quarterback in 2017.

The 49ers have two quarterbacks under contract – Hoyer and Matt Barkley – and they are certain to add a quarterback at some point. But regardless of whom they add at this point, Hoyer will be the starter. The top quarterbacks still available are Davis Webb (Cal) and DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame).

Two players to watch are Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh) and Brad Kaaya (Miami), who come from pro-style offenses. Both could still be available when the 49ers go on the clock in the third round.

Running back
Oft-injured Carlos Hyde is entering the final year of his contract, and he has something to prove to the new coaching staff. Veteran Tim Hightower is the only other proven NFL back on the roster.

There will be plenty of solid options at running back in the final two days of the draft.

Coach Kyle Shanahan has a knack for identifying unique traits in running backs and scheming his offense to put those players in advantageous spots to make plays on third downs.

Supply is greater than demand at running back in the draft, so Shanahan is certain to identify someone capable of making an impact in a specific role.

Wide receiver
The 49ers parted ways with Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton, while adding Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson. Big-bodied receiver Eric Rogers, who dominated in the CFL, is still rehabbing from a torn ACL sustained last summer.

The 49ers have room on their roster to develop a young receiver who can learn the ins and outs of the professional game from Garçon. It’s part of the reason the 49ers made him their most-lucrative free-agent acquisition.

Edge rusher
Sure, the 49ers already selected a defensive lineman. And while the 49ers believe Solomon Thomas can play the pass-rusher spot in the team’s new defense, his best attribute is his versatility.

Teams can never have too many pure pass-rushers, and the 49ers still have a shortage in that area. They can still use an edge rusher to compete with and push Arik Armstead, Aaron Lynch and Ahmad Brooks to fight in order to hold onto their jobs.

Kicker
The 49ers signed veteran Robbie Gould in the offseason and awarded him a $500,000 signing bonus. Gould, 35, was targeted to replace ultra-reliable Phil Dawson. Gould signed with the Giants in October of last year. He made all 10 field-goal attempts but missed three of his 23 extra-point tries.

It’s not a huge priority, of course, but it remains possible the 49ers add a kicker on Day 3. They could draft someone, such as Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez, or bring Stanford’s Conrad Ukropina to camp to compete as an undrafted rookie.

49ERS 2017 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round, No. 2: DL Solomon Thomas, Stanford
2. First round, No. 31: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama

3. Third round: No. 66 overall
4. Third round: No. 67 overall (from Chicago for No. 2 pick)
5. Fourth round: No. 109 overall
6. Fourth round: No. 143 overall (compensatory)
7. Fifth round: No. 146 overall
8. Fifth round: No. 161 (from Washington in 2015 trade for TE Derek Carrier)
9. Sixth round: No. 198 overall (from Baltimore in trade with C Jeremy Zuttah for No. 186)
10. Sixth round: No. 202 overall (pick acquired from Denver in 2015 trade for TE Vernon Davis)
11. Seventh round: No. 219 overall (pick acquired from Cleveland in 2015 trade for Andy Lee)