49ers key matchup No. 2: 49ers coverage unit vs. Washington

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49ers key matchup No. 2: 49ers coverage unit vs. Washington

This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Seahawks matchups to watch Thursday, 5:20 p.m. (NFL NetworkKGO-TV, Ch. 7), at Candlestick Park.49ers special teams vs. Seahawks RS Leon WashingtonA year ago, the 49ers won the battle for field position, in large part due to their exemplary coverage of punts and kickoffs.Through six games, any time the 49ers have booted the ball away, it's hold-your-breath time.The 49ers rank 31st in covering kickoffs and they are 30th on punt returns. And they face one of their biggest challenges Thursday evening in slowing down veteran returnman Leon Washington.Washington ranks behind only Minnesota's Percy Harvin with a 31.7-yard average on kickoff returns. Washington is second all-time in NFL history with seven kickoff return touchdowns.If veteran kicker David Akers, who tries to drive his kickoff low and through the end zone, leaves Washington some room to return kicks, the 49ers must do a better job of preventing game-changing plays.One of those such plays occurred at the beginning of the second half Sunday against the New York Giants, who led 10-3 at the time. Rookie David Wilson took advantage of a huge hole formed when the Giants' two-man wedge walled off the 49ers' jumbled pursuit team. Wilson returned the kickoff 66 yards to set up a touchdown that set the tone for the remainder of the game."We know that's our job to cover those kicks and get them contained and get them covered," said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who could not provide a reason for the team's rash of lapses on the coverage units.The 49ers made several offseason decisions that appear to have greatly impacted their coverage units.The 49ers did not attempt to re-sign Blake Costanzo, who was second on the team with 17 special-teams tackles. Instead, the 49ers signed veteran Rock Cartwright, who was cut loose during the team's final cuts. Another key contributor, Colin Jones, was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a future draft pick.The 49ers' top tackler on special teams, C.J. Spillman, has yet to record a tackle through six games. The 49ers' top special-teams tackler, Tavares Gooden, has been nursing an elbow injury. He is scheduled to play in Thursday's game.

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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After signing with Giants, Draughn pens long thank you to 49ers

After signing with Giants, Draughn pens long thank you to 49ers

Shaun Draughn is now a member of the New York Giants, but he won't ever forget his brief stint with the 49ers. The running back posted a long thank you to the organization and its fans on Thursday:

"I want to say thank you to the @49ers for giving my family and I a place to call home, a chance to be apart of an organization with rich history, class and a passion for family and community," Draughn posted on Instagram. "You guys gave me my first EVER NFL start on November 8,2015 and I will cherish that moment and milestone forever.

"Thank you to all the support staff, cooks(man Ima miss those crispies in the morning lol Travis and the fellas) , custodians (my man Joe keep planting those spiritual seeds my brotha), equipment (Doc, Steve, Gilby, and the crew) trainers( Ferg, ryan, Laura) pastor Earl thank you so much for your time and pouring into us spiritually. Coaches(coach Tom Rathman thank you for having a high standard for your players and forcing me to get better at my craft) and to the Niner Faithful you guys are great and very passionate about your team you made this a great experience as well!! To my teammates I love y'all like brothas and thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and making it a pleasure to go to war with y'all no matter the record!!"

Draughn, 29, averaged 3.1 yards per carry over two seasons with the 49ers, totaling 459 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. 

I want to say thank you to the @49ers for giving my family and I a place to call home, a chance to be apart of an organization with rich history, class and a passion for family and community. You guys gave me my first EVER NFL start on November 8,2015 and I will cherish that moment and milestone forever. Thank you to all the support staff, cooks(man Ima miss those crispies in the morning lol Travis and the fellas) , custodians (my man Joe keep planting those spiritual seeds my brotha), equipment (Doc, Steve, Gilby, and the crew) trainers( Ferg, ryan, Laura) pastor Earl thank you so much for your time and pouring into us spiritually. Coaches(coach Tom Rathman thank you for having a high standard for your players and forcing me to get better at my craft) and to the Niner Faithful you guys are great and very passionate about your team you made this a great experience as well!! To my teammates I love y'all like brothas and thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and making it a pleasure to go to war with y'all no matter the record!! To the @nygiants I want to say thank you for allowing me to be apart of such a first class organization!! I am excited to go to work in the quest for #5 and to the Fans I can assure you, you will get my ABSOLUTE best and nothing less, put a stamp on it‼️‼️ thank you God for ALWAYS making a way!! #Proverbs3:5-6 #BigBlue #GMen

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