SAN FRANCISCO -- When the 49ers stopped settling for field-goal attempts Sunday, the NFC West leaders ran away with a 23-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park.The 49ers improved to 9-1, the organization's best start since 1997 with their eighth consecutive victory. The 49ers, who face the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, will have a chance to clinch their first division title since 2002.The 49ers remained one game behind the Green Bay Packers (10-0) in the race for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.The 49ers piled up a lot of yards in the first half but had only three field goals to show for it. The 49ers had 249 yards of total offense, but settled for David Akers field goals of 22, 43 and 29 yards.But the 49ers took all drama out of the game in the third quarter when quarterback Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes. Smith finished the game with .Takeaways galore: The 49ers forced five turnovers in the game, as they continue to excel in the takeawaygiveaway category. Linebacker Patrick Willis had an interception and forced a fumble. Donte Whitner recovered a fumble and had an interception, and Dashon Goldson recorded his third interception of the season. Also, NaVorro Bowman recovered a fumbled punt.FG struggles: Akers entered the game with 23 field goals in 25 attempts, but he missed three attempts in the first half. Two of the kicks were blocked, and Akers was also wide right from 49 yards.Williams emerges: Second-year player Kyle Williams took advantage of his chances on Sunday, as he replaced Ted Ginn as the No. 3 receiver. Williams had five catches for 54 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown catch from Smith. Williams has two touchdown catches on the season, and that leads all 49ers wide receivers.Crabtree's best: Miichael Crabtree had a season-best seven catches for 120 yards, including a 38-yard reception on the firstDavis' milestone: Tight end Vernon Davis caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to give the 49ers a 23-0 lead. It was Davis' 34th career touchdown to give him the sole lead in franchise history for most touchdowns by a tight end. He had previously been tied with Brent Jones.Gore starts: Running back Frank Gore returned to action after behind held to zero yards and sustaining a right knee injury against the New York Giants. Gore started and carried 24 times for 88 yards before being removed with the 49ers holding a sizable second-half lead.Shortage of fullbacks: Rookie fullback Bruce Miller sustained a concussion in the first half and did not return. So the 49ers used backup tight ends Delanie Walker and Justin Peelle in that role the remainder of the game. Veteran fullback Moran Norris has not suited up since the second week of the season when he sustained a fractured leg. While Norris was out of the lineup, Miller took over and held onto the starting fullback job.Goldson ejected: The game figures to have been costly for Goldson, who was ejected for retaliating in the fourth quarter against Cardinals receiver Early Doucet with a flurry of punches. Goldson is subject to a fine and possible suspension. "We will not make any determinations today on game-related discipline," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
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.
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.