49ers Mailbag: When will James contribute?

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49ers Mailbag: When will James contribute?

We opened the floor for questions Friday morning on our Facebook page, and here's what was delivered to the 49ers Mailbag . . . Will we see a LaMichael James or Brandon Jacobs sighting this week? (John J Francis)
Don't expect running back Brandon Jacobs to play Sunday night against the Detroit Lions. He has been out with a left knee sprain since Aug 18. And he did not take part in practices Wednesday and Thursday, and those are the days when the bulk of the game plan is implemented.So I can't imagine the 49ers would send Jacobs -- or Ted Ginn -- into action without a full week of practice.
Meanwhile, James, the second-round draft pick, is healthy. But he has not earned the right to suit up for games.
James does not have a defined role on the team, yet. The coaches made him one of the seven inactive players Week 1 against Green Bay. Even with Jacobs injured, James is the No. 4 running back behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon.Dixon brings special-teams play to the table. James does not have value covering punts or kickoffs, so the 49ers could not find a way to make him one of the team's 46 active players.Originally, I thought James might be in uniform and a backup safety, such as Darcel McBath or Trenton Robinson, would be inactive. But McBath played 24 snaps on special teams, and Robinson played 15.The only way James gets on the field is if he practices well and offensive coordinator Greg Roman comes up with a plan to use James' talents against a specific opponent.Your thoughts on the Niners opening the playbook more? (Kyle Fletcher)
I thought the 49ers opened up the playbook Week 1 against the Packers with their wide variety of personnel packages and formations. They showed the Green Bay defense a lot of different looks.But if you're talking about the passing game, I don't think anything is going to change.Why would the 49ers change what's been working? Alex Smith has not thrown an interception in a team-record 185 attempts (not including 68 passes in the two playoff games). And the 49ers have gone 26 regular-season quarters without a giveaway. That's a team record, too.
So, no, I don't expect Roman to begin dialing up a bunch of low-percentage passes down the field. Smith will take calculated shots, but the 49ers are not going to become vertical all of a sudden. Smith will pick his spots, but you should never expect to see a steady diet of deep passes.
How valuable is Justin Smith to the interior of the 49ers defensive line and to the defense as a whole? (Jim Scales)
Justin Smith was credited with just one tackle in the 49ers' 30-22 victory over the Packers. The 49ers coaches, after a review of the game film, came up with three tackles, three quarterback hits and four pressures.Smith's contribution to the 49ers cannot be measured in statistics. He probably should've been in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season. But might not ever put up the gaudy statistics needed for such an award.Don't let the statistics fool you. Smith was his usual dominant self against the Packers. In large part because of Smith and the constant double-teams he faced, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis combined for 20 tackles. Smith also deserves a lot of credit for Aldon Smith's success.Justin Smith, without question, is the guy who makes that 49ers defense tick. Unfortunately, there's no statistic available that proves that point.

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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