49ers key matchup No. 1: Bowman vs. Spiller


49ers key matchup No. 1: Bowman vs. Spiller

This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Bills matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS-TV), at Candlestick Park.49ers ILB NaVorro Bowman vs. Bills RB C.J. SpillerTale of the tape
Bowman (53): 6-foot, 242 pounds, third season, Penn State
Spiller (28): 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, third season, ClemsonRunning back C.J. Spiller impressed Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey with his toughness a week ago.Spiller returned to action one week after sustaining a strained AC joint in his shoulder Sept. 23 against the Cleveland Browns. However, Spillman's fumble at the goal line was a pivotal play last week in the Bills' loss to the New England Patriots.Gailey said he did not know whether the shoulder injury was the reason for the fumble. The Bills believe a banged-up Spiller is better than no Spiller at all. And he felt a lot better in the week leading up to Sunday's game against the 49ers, Gailey said.This matchup features speed against speed."Everyone is going to try to spread us out and try to get their fast guys on our 'backers, so we just have to do a good job of executing the scheme," 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman said.Spiller is a legitimate big-play threat. The Bills run most of their plays from a spread formation, much like the 49ers' first two opponents, Green Bay and Detroit. But there's one major difference."The formations are similar," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "These guys run maybe more of a complete offense out of it. They're running it a good bit, and throwing it a good bit. So, it's more of a balanced run-pass ratio with these guys.Spiller has shown an ability to make big plays as a runner or receiver. He has rushed for a eye-popping 8.3 yards a carry (341 yards and three touchdowns on 41 attempts). And he has nine receptions for 119 yards (13.2 average).Bowman, a speedy inside linebacker, will have a big test on Sunday vs. Spiller.
"Buffalo does a great job of showing us different looks," Bowman said, "but all in all, you know they're going to try to get the ball to their playmakers."

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL


Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers


Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.