49ers new stadium to host Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

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49ers new stadium to host Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is moving to a new home.

Bowl organizers, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority (SCSA) and the San Francisco 49ers today confirmed in an afternoon press conference that the annual Bay Area postseason college football game will move to the New Santa Clara Stadium beginning in December 2014.

Construction of the new state-of-the-art home for the San Francisco 49ers is well underway, with more than 20 percent of the total project already completed. The first 49ers game in the new building will take place in August 2014, and will now be followed by the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl four months later. Seating capacity at the new stadium is set for 68,500, with 9,000 club seats and 165 luxury suites.

From its inception in 2002, the Bowl game has been played at AT&T Park in downtown San Francisco. Each year, at the conclusion of the San Francisco Giants playing season, AT&T Park has been transformed into a football venue. In just over a decade's time, the Bay Area's Bowl game grew from infancy to its rightful place as one of the 35-game bowl constellation's brightest stars.

Gary Cavalli, Bowl co-founder and the only Executive Director in its history, said today that a number of factors entered into the decision to change game venues.

"This is an exciting, historic moment for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl," Cavalli said. "Moving to the 49ers' new state of the art stadium in Santa Clara is an opportunity to take our Bowl to the next level. The college football landscape has changed dramatically in recent months with a revamped post-season structure and ongoing conference realignment. This beautiful new venue will give us the ability to attract better teams, secure additional sponsorship support, and grow the game.

"The teams that participate in the Bowl will have the opportunity to play in a world-class NFL stadium that in all likelihood will host the Super Bowl, and fans who attend the game will have all the amenities of a premier football facility full of technological advancements. That combination is going to make our Bowl a more desirable destination for college football teams throughout the country and fans throughout the Bay Area. It's a real game-changer for us."

The Bowl's game week activities and team hotels will remain in San Francisco, while on game day, teams and fans will also have a chance to experience Santa Clara and Silicon Valley.

49ers Chief Executive Officer Jed York has been the driving force behind the team's efforts to find a new home venue in Santa Clara. He graciously welcomed the Bay Area's Bowl game as the first non-49ers event to be scheduled in the new building.

"The 49ers are very excited that an established college football game such as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has become the first special event to commit to the New Santa Clara Stadium," said York. "We look forward to facilitating world-class sports and entertainment events in a stadium that we anticipate becoming one of the world's premier outdoor venues. This facility will bring together all that is special about the Bay Area and Silicon Valley to deliver an unequalled user experience."

Courtesy San Francisco 49ers and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl media services

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”