49ers exhibition opener goes mostly as planned


49ers exhibition opener goes mostly as planned

SANTA CLARA -- Outside linebacker Aldon Smith exited the 49ers' locker room Friday night at Candlestick Park with the assistance of two canes.It was an odd sight to see the second-year player hobble out of the stadium in unconventional fashion, but 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh offered an encouraging outlook."The preliminary report looks like we'll be all right," Harbaugh said. "We dodged a bullet there."Smith sustained a bruise hip, the 49ers announced. He sustained the injury late in the first quarter. After spending several minutes on the sideline, Smith was taken to the locker room on a cart.All in all, the 49ers' exhibition opener could not have gone much better. Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick led the team on touchdown drives the first times they took the field on a windy night at Candlestick Park in the 49ers' 17-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.RECAP: 49ers 17, Vikings 6
"Definitely pleased to have a game under our belt," Harbaugh said. "(There's) a lot of data to study. It's good to have a foundation."The gusty conditions made for a difficult assignment for the passing games. But while the Vikings struggled, the 49ers completed better than two-thirds of their passing attempts.Vikings quarterbacks Christian Ponder, Joe Webb and McLeod Bethel-Thompson combined to complete just 11-of-27 passes. The 49ers' four quarterbacks -- Smith, Kaepernick, Scott Tolzien and Josh Johnson -- teamed up for 20-of-29 passing for 170 yards and a touchdown.Smith completed all three of his pass attempts for 16 yards, including a four-yard touchdown pass to Brett Swain to cap the opening drive.Kaepernick completed 5-of-9 passes for 40 yards, but also rushed three times for 92 yards with a 78-yard touchdown run.Tolzien was the third quarterback to play, and he came through with 10 completions on 13 attempts for 84 yards. Johnson completed 2-of-4 attempts for 30 yards."All the quarterbacks really played well," Harbaugh said.The toughest task of the evening might have belonged to the punt returners. Kyle Williams, whose season ended last January in despair with two turnovers in the NFC championship game, handled three punts flawlessly."It was kind of swirling, but that's what Candlestick gives you," Williams said. "Every time you come here, you know you're going to be faced with some kind of weather. I think we did OK, as far as everyone fielding punts and kickoffs. With the overall ball flight, everybody was reading it pretty well."I couldn't wait to get back there. Ever since last year, I couldn't wait to get back there ... It was really fun to get back out there ... I was calm. I've been waiting for this for a long time. I couldn't wait to get it going."The 49ers might have given some glimpse of what to expect from their offense on the very first drive. The 49ers did not suit up running back Frank Gore or receiver Mario Manningham, decision Harbaugh said he made just prior to the game. (Defensive lineman Justin Smith also was given the night off.)On the first drive, Kendall Hunter, Rock Cartwright and Brandon Jacobs carried the ball. The 49ers rolled up 260 yards rushing on 42 attempts.The 49ers also shuttled a bunch of receivers into the game early. Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn, Randy Moss, Wiliams and Swain each saw playing time on the 49ers' game-opening drive."That's the way we've been looking at it since the start of training camp," Harbaugh said. "And then we'll find the best combinations."Crabtree, playing in his first NFL exhibition game, caught one pass for three yards. Moss played a handful of snaps but did not see any passes come his way.Jacobs had a strong debut with the 49ers, as he carried four times for 31 yards. He picked up first downs on each of his rushing attempts, including a fourth-and-one conversion on the opening drive."I run and read what I to have to read and run," Jacobs said. "Great lineman, they do what they're supposed to do, they move people out of the way, they're big strong guys."Smith's one series of action lasted 12 plays, and provided him with just about everything he wanted to accomplish in the first tune-up game."You want to get off to a good start," Smith said. "We didn't know how many plays we were going to play. You just want to put something good together. We read the ball great, made the big fourth-down conversion. Swain made a great play down there at the goal line."Two plays after Smith left the game, his replacement provided the play of the game.Working in a no-huddle offense, Kaepernick faked an inside handoff to LaMichael James out of the shotgun formation. Then, Kaepernick saw nothing but open real estate ahead of him, as Swain blocked cornerback Chris Cook on the right edge."Our offensive line did a great job of blocking the box," Kaepernick said. "Our receiver blocked the corner, and our tight end got to the safety, and that left me with a lot of green grass."I felt him (Cook) coming behind me and I wanted to make sure I didn't get caught."It was a familiar play for Kaepernick, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his final three seasons at Nevada."I felt very much at home when I saw that open up," Kaepernick said. "I had a flashback real quick."The 49ers' defense had its way throughout the game, limiting the Vikings to just 208 yards of total offense and two field goals. Reserve outside linebacker Eric Bakhtiari recorded two sacks, and cornerback Perrish Cox had an interception late in the game.The 49ers got to the Vikings' one-yard line at the two-minute warning. But Harbaugh said it was best to be prudent and avoid the possibility of getting anybody hurt when it was best to just run out the clock.

Bills sign two former 49ers

Bills sign two former 49ers

The Buffalo Bills have signed two 49ers free agents within the past two days.

After signing wide receiver Rod Streater on Wednesday, the Bills announced the signing of linebacker Gerald Hodges on Thursday.

The 49ers acquired Hodges in a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick. Hodges started 12 games last season and ranked second on the team with 92 tackles.

Hodges left the 49ers shorthanded for a late-season game against the Atlanta Falcons when he violated team rules. Then-coach Chip Kelly did not disclose the nature of Hodges infraction. Hodges offered no explanation or apology.

The 49ers entered the game against the high-powered Falcons with just two healthy inside linebackers due to Hodges’ deactivation. Starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game, and the 49ers were forced to use safeties Antoine Bethea and Vinnie Sunseri, and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks at various points of the game.

The 49ers showed no interest in re-signing Hodges as a free agent.

Streater, a five-year NFL veteran, saw action in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in September. He caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.