49ers eye No. 2 seed with 19-17 victory over Seahawks

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49ers eye No. 2 seed with 19-17 victory over Seahawks

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SEATTLE -- David Akers set an NFL record and extended it with a timely 39-yard field goal to keep the 49ers in control of their own destiny for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.Patrick Willis' replacement Larry Grant stripped Tarvaris Jackson on a last-minute Seahawks drive, and Donte Whitner recovered to preserve a 19-17 49ers victory.
The 49ers (12-3) can clinch the second seed, and a first-round playoff bye, if the New Orleans Saints lose to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. Or the 49ers can clinch for themselves next week against the St. Louis Rams.Akers set the NFL record for field goals in a season when he nailed a 44-yard attempt to give the 49ers a 16-10 lead with 12:37 remaining in the fourth quarter. Akers broke the record set by Arizona's Neil Rackers in 2005.--Pass-rusher Aldon Smith recorded a fourth-quarter sack, giving him 14 for the season. He is just a half-sack from tying Jevon Kearse's rookie record, set in 1999.--A couple impressive 49ers run-defense streaks came to an end. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch had a 4-yard touchdown run with 6:41 remaining in the fourth quarter for a 17-16 lead.It was the first rushing TD the 49ers have surrendered this season. The 49ers are the first team in NFL history to go the first 14 games of the season without allowing a rushing score.Also, Lynch gained 107 yards on 21 rushing attempts to break a streak of 36 games that the 49ers did not allow a 100-yard rusher.--After completing 5 of 16 passes for 43 yards (with several dropped passes) in the first half, Alex Smith completed all four of his attempts for 64 yards on the 49ers' first possession of the third quarter.Tight end Vernon Davis, who had a case of the dropsies in the first half, had a fourth-down catch for 16 yards and another tight-rope reception at the sideline for 17 yards on the drive. Frank Gore had a 4-yard touchdown run -- his third score in the past three games -- to tie the game at 10-10 early in the third quarter.--The 49ers had a big outing from the run game. Frank Gore rushed 23 times for 83 yards, and rookie Kendall Hunter gained a career-high 73 yards on 12 carries.--The 49ers biggest concern is the status of tight end Delanie Walker, who went down with an apparent significant jaw injury in the first half. His availability for the playoffs is now in question.Walker sustained the injury when Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill inadvertently kicked him while Walker was on the ground after a cut block on a run play.Walker's helmet flew off and he remained on the ground while the 49ers' medical staff and coach Jim Harbaugh rushed to his assistance. Walker held a towel over the left side of his jaw. He was carted off the field, presumably for X-rays.Walker has not caught a pass in the past six games, but he has provided a significant contribution to the offense as a blocker. With Walker out of the lineup, veteran Justin Peelle saw increased action as a blocker.--The 49ers were breathing easier after first-quarter injuries to defensive end Justin Smith (left leg) and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (right elbow). Both left the game but were cleared to return to action.--The 49ers played their third full game without All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis. But the 49ers might be inclined to try to get him on the field next week against the St. Louis Rams in the regular-season finale rather than have him off at least five weeks entering the 49ers' first playoff game.

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

PHOENIX – Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will continue to be Washington’s quarterback for the 2017 season, according to team president Bruce Allen.

“That’s why we franchised him, yes,” Allen said during an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic at the NFL owners meetings.

Cousins and Washington did not reach agreement on a multi-year contract extension before the start of the free-agent signing period. Washington tagged Cousins as the organization’s exclusive franchise player, taking him off the free-agent market for any interested clubs, such as the 49ers.

Cousins is set to earn $23.94 million in 2017, unless the sides agree to a new deal before the July 15 deadline. The price for Cousins to be franchised again in 2018 would be $34.47 million.

"We’ve had a lot of dialogue," Allen said. "He signed his tender. Obviously, we have an option for the ’18 season. Our goal from the beginning has been long term. I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The 49ers with new coach Kyle Shanahan are expected to be interested in Cousins, but there have no trade talks with any teams, Allen said. Shanahan was Washington's offensive coordinator under his father, then-head coach Mike Shanahan, for Cousins' first two NFL seasons.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

PHOENIX -- If the Cleveland Browns’ only reasonable decision with the top overall pick consists of Myles Garrett or Myles Garrett, the 49ers have considerably more options at No. 2 overall.

After Garrett, the Texas A&M pass-rusher, there appears to be no consensus second-best prospect in the draft. So the 49ers must be open to considering almost anything.

“You got to talk about every option because you never know what will happen,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You got to be ready for anything somebody will call you on, whether it’s a trade or not. So you got to go through those because they can happen quickly, especially when you get closer to draft day.

“Right now, it’s not necessarily in my mind the No. 2 pick. It’s taking the time to understand the whole pool of people. Who’s going to be available at two? Who’s going to be available halfway through the first round? What are the players you can get in the second and third round? That’s not something that just gets done. You have to watch a lot of tape. You got to listen to your scouts and all the homework they’ve done with the character on these guys and soak it all in for a couple of months.”

Shanahan was on hand Thursday for Stanford’s pro day, during which defensive lineman Solomon Thomas worked out. Thomas is considered a strong candidate to be the No. 2 player off the board.

But does Thomas fit with the 49ers? Under former general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers invested their top draft picks in Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years. Would the 49ers consider spending their top pick on another defensive lineman?

“It really doesn’t concern me what we’ve done in the past or what we’re going to do in the future,” Shanahan said. “It’s what we have now. If we think that player can help us and improve us, then that’s what we’ll do. You want to get the best guy possible. There are lots of options open.”

As the 49ers transition to a four-man defensive line, the team is in need or a pass-rusher. Ahmad Brooks tied with Buckner for the team-lead last season with six sacks. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch tied for tops on the 49ers with 6.5 sacks.

Brooks, 33, enters his 12th NFL season. Shanahan said he believes Thomas (6 foot 3, 273 pounds) is versatile enough to be a pass-rush threat at defensive end in the 49ers’ new scheme.

“I believe so,” Shanahan said. “I believe he can probably line up anywhere he wants. (But I’m) still not done with my research, yet.”

Thomas won the 2017 Morris Trophy, as the Pac-12’s top defensive lineman, as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen.