49ers in control with 23-7 win over Cardinals

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49ers in control with 23-7 win over Cardinals

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers offense controlled the clock.The 49ers defense controlled the Arizona Cardinals.And the 49ers continued to control the NFC West -- as well as their playoff positioning -- with an imperfect-yet-effective 23-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Candlestick Park.The 49ers clinched their first winning season since 2002, which also happened to be the last time the franchise advanced to the playoffs. They can clinch the division title next week with a win over the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday and a Seattle loss.

The 49ers remained one game behind the Green Bay Packers (10-0) in the race for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. The top two teams get first-round byes.
"It does feel good," 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said. "(But) it's a little frustrating in the passing game with some of the stuff we left out there."The 49ers gained a lot of yards (431) but scored touchdowns on just two of their six trips inside the Cardinals 20-yard line. And the usually reliable kicking game sputtered, as David Akers made just three of his six first-half field-goal attempts. Two of his first-half attempts were blocked.So while the 49ers held the ball for an NFL season-high 44 minutes, 16 seconds of the game, they were never able to create the kind of separation expected when a defense comes up with five takeaways. It was the 49ers' biggest time of possession in a non-overtime game since Oct. 20, 1991, when the 49ers held the ball for 45:04 in a 35-3 victory over Detroit."It makes it more frustrating because of the way they (the 49ers defense) were playing," Smith said. "We really made that game more difficult than it had to be."If we were able to capitalize on a couple of those drives early with the way our defense was playing, all of a sudden that game gets really lopsided."Smith completed 20 of 38 passing attempts for 267 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The 49ers did not start feeling comfortable until Smith found receiver Kyle Williams and tight end Vernon Davis on touchdown passes of 8 and 18 yards less than three minutes apart in the third quarter.
Michael Crabtree had a season-best seven catches for 120 yards. And Williams might have earned more playing time, as he caught five passes for 54 yards. He helped compensate for a gimpy Braylon Edwards, who was held without a catch."I don't think he's 100 percent, but there was improvement this week," Harbaugh said of Edwards, who missed four games earlier this season after undergoing surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee. "Toward the end of the week, he was starting to feel pretty darn good."Edwards and running back Frank Gore sat out the fourth quarter with the 49ers in control with a 23-0 lead. Gore, who was nursing a sore right knee, gained 88 yards on 24 rushes.While it was not a particularly crisp game for the 49ers' passing game, it was a lot better than anything the Cardinals could generate on the wet field.Arizona quarterback John Skelton, who entered with a two-game win streak after taking over for injured Kevin Kolb, completed just 6 of 19 attempts for 99 yards with three interceptions.Skelton was benched in the second half, and Richard Bartel entered and completed 8 of 16 for 64 yards and a touchdown."Our defense played extremely well," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We won that game on the strength of a lot of things, but none more important than the turnovers we were able to get in the kicking game with our defense."The 49ers extended their NFL lead in the takeawaygiveaway column to a plus-17. Patrick Willis, Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner recorded interceptions. Willis forced a fumble that Whitner recovered, and special-teamer Tavares Gooden forced a fumble that NaVorro Bowman jumped on."We know that any time you get turnovers and get back on offense, it makes your chances of scoring and winning even higher," Willis said. "We also know that any time we can be great in the turnover margin by getting the ball that a lot of times it leads to something great. So far, that's what we've been doing."The 49ers appeared to be in control throughout the game, except when Goldson lost control of his emotions early in the fourth quarter. Goldson retaliated after Cardinals receiver Early Doucet took a swipe at Goldson, who was on the ground after Aldon Smith recorded a sack.Goldson got to his feet and took several swings at Doucet during the melee. Goldson was penalized 15 yards and ejected from the game. Afterward, he was remorseful while speaking to teammates in the locker room, Harbaugh said.The 49ers return to action Thursday night for a Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh game Thanksgiving night in Baltimore against the John Harbaugh-coached Ravens.

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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