49ers notes: Are James & Jenkins ready for opportunity?


49ers notes: Are James & Jenkins ready for opportunity?

SANTA CLARA Jim Harbaugh will admittedly do anything in his power to give his team a competitive edge, including holding off on announcing a starting quarterback until its absolutely necessary.

This week, though, the St. Louis Rams will likely know mid-week whether or not they have to prepare for Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick on Sunday. Harbaugh said in his day-after press conference that the decision would likely be made public on Wednesday.

The reason? Well let him explain.

Well say who that quarterback is probably Wednesday. The biggest reason is, so our players arent pressured by the media with who is it? and everybody hammering them for the information. I think in my mind, thats the direction well go, Harbaugh said.

Kaepernick made his second straight start and performed admirably in the 31-21 win against New Orleans on Sunday, throwing for 231 yards on 16-for-25 passing with one touchdown and one interception. Smith, who suffered a concussion on Nov. 11 against St. Louis but has since been cleared to play, acted as the backup, although thats not a word Harbaugh prefers to use when describing either of his field generals.

MAIOCCO: Kaepernick, defense lead 49ers to 31-21 win over Saints

Alex Smith is our starting quarterback. Hes not done anything to lose that job. In fact, hes played at a very high level. Also, Colin Kaepernick, you cant categorize him as a backup quarterback because hes started games and played very well in those games, Harbaugh said. So, in a unique situation, you have two quarterbacks that are playing at a very high level. Ones your captain and your starting quarterback; the other has played great football in the last three games. Both have a hot hand.

There have been suggestions made that Smith, who led San Francisco to a 6-2 mark before getting hurt, should be more outspoken in his desire to play. Fox analyst and former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman said as much during Sundays game broadcast.

That kind of chatter doesnt sit well with Harbaugh, who considers Smith a team-first kind of guy.

The so-called subject matter experts, that talk about Smith should be making a fuss about it, or a stink about it, he shouldnt be that accommodating, is sending a completely wrong message out there to me or a young athlete thats out there, or high school athlete or quarterback when their coach or their team is trying to tell them its about the team or its about all working together.

That really gets me upset. Thats not what our two guys are about. They are great team guys and great example guys. And, we need them both.

The last time the 49ers and Rams met, just two weeks ago, the game ended in an unfulfilling 24-24 tie. Does San Francisco have some unfinished business with its division rival?

Harbaugh doesnt view it that way, calling it new business.

The new business is this game, this most important game because its our next game. Its just that hard, focus on that, he said. Its not about unfinished business, its about new business. New business is getting prepared to travel well, prepare to practice well and prepare to go there and do what it takes to be victorious.

With Kyle Williams out for the year and Kendall Hunter's status uncertain, there could be some fresh legs seeing more action for the Niners, including wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and running back LaMichael James.

To both those youngsters credit, and others who have been working extremely hard for their opportunity, we feel good and excited that a couple of those youngsters will get that opportunity, Harbaugh said.

The head coach considered the win over New Orleans one of the most physical games of the season.

It was a hard-hitting game. It took a toll, he said.

How did Harbaugh know that his defense was ready to go all-out against the previously surging Saints?

It wasnt the two defensive touchdowns, but something much more fundamental.

You tackle. In this game, like the Bears game, there might have been one missed tackle or there might have been two. In the Bears game we had one missed tackle, Harbaugh said, referring to his teams 32-7 win over Chicago on Nov. 19.

Also, there were no missed tackles that allowed yards after the catch. Every time we had a chance to contact a receiver after he caught the ball there were no yards after the catch. Thats huge.

San Francisco is second in the league in team defense, allowing just 278.4 yards-per-game.

Potential big play slips from Hoyer's grasp during preseason loss to Broncos

Potential big play slips from Hoyer's grasp during preseason loss to Broncos

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Brian Hoyer threw the ball well enough to impress the Denver Broncos’ defensive backs during the 49ers’ two joint practices.

While he hit most of his passes on Saturday night, it was one that slipped away that summarized the 49ers’ 33-14 loss to the Broncos in the second exhibition game for both teams.

Hoyer had plenty of time to throw and saw a potential big play unfolding as he started to throw to wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. But the ball popped out of Hoyer’s right hand as he began to throw.

“I was getting ready to rip it to Kerley,” Hoyer said. “He had a double-move route, and I thought he was going to win. I went to throw it. And I was going to throw it hard, and literally, I think my arm even went forward and I was looking around, ‘What happened to the ball?' "

The ball ended up loose on the ground, where Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris recovered.

“My quarterbacks coach asked me, ‘When’s the last time that happened to you?’ Hoyer said. “Maybe a few years ago in practice, that happened one time. I never had that happen in a game. It’s the worst feeling. You go to throw the ball and you’re looking, and all of a sudden, you look around and you have no idea where it is.”

Hoyer and the 49ers passing game was sharp during two practice sessions with the Broncos during the week, prompting All-Pro defensive backs Aqib Talib and Chris Harris to praise the Hoyer, as well as coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

Hoyer completed 8 of 11 pass attempts for 89 yards under the lights of Levi's Stadium. He threw an interception when 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin juggled the ball and Denver defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris wrestled the ball away from him as they tumbled to the ground.

“There weren’t any reads on his 11 attempts that I was upset with,” Shanahan said of Hoyer.

“(On) his pick, Marquise has to catch that ball. He threw it to him. That keeps the drive alive. He just didn’t catch it clean and the DB made a good play. I wish Brian could’ve played longer to get a chance to get into some sort of rhythm.”

In the game, the 49ers committed 11 penalties for 86 yards and turned the ball over five times. Denver scored 27 points off those turnovers.

“I don’t think any of us should be pleased right now,” Hoyer said. “When you put the defense in that situation, regardless of whether it’s a regular-season game or a preseason game, you should feel displeased with the performance.”

Instant Analysis: Turnovers cost 49ers in preseason loss to Broncos

Instant Analysis: Turnovers cost 49ers in preseason loss to Broncos


SANTA CLARA – The 49ers don’t have to worry about peaking too soon, that’s for sure.

The 49ers first-team offense was plagued by turnovers and penalties against the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium in the second exhibition game for both teams. And things did not get much better when the backups entered the action.

After two days during which the 49ers more than held their own against Denver in joint practices, there was no debate about which team was better when it was time for a game.

The 49ers put together an all-around sloppy performance -- low-lighted by 11 penalties and five turnovers -- in a 33-14 loss to the Broncos on Saturday night.

While the starters were in the game, the 49ers were outscored 10-0. The 49ers committed six penalties for 53 yards and committed four turnovers in the first half, as the 49ers fell behind 20-0 through two quarters.

“I thought the D did a solid job,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during his halftime interview on KPIX. “We put them in a bad situation four times, so I was happy that they just held it to what it was.”

Jaquiski Tartt was responsible for one of the giveaways when it was ruled he inadvertently touched the ball on a punt in the first quarter. The Broncos recovered the muffed punt to retain possession.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer lost a fumble when the ball slipped out of his hand as he was throwing. Hoyer was also tagged with an interception. Denver defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris ripped the ball away from Marquise Goodwin as he juggled a Hoyer pass that was thrown behind him.

Running back Tim Hightower lost a fumble in the second quarter.

The Broncos capitalized on those four turnovers for all 20 of their points while shutting out the 49ers through halftime.

The 49ers’ offense showed some signs of life with Hoyer at the controls. The team gained 111 yards on their 22 plays. Hoyer completed 8 of 11 passes for 89 yards before rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard replaced him late in the first half.

Beathard continued to make a strong case to win the backup job. Beathard is in competition with Matt Barkley as the 49ers’ No. 2 quarterback.

Beathard teamed up with his former Iowa teammate, tight end George Kittle, on a 29-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Kittle caught the short pass from Beathard, turned up the left sideline, ran through an attempted tackle by Lewis-Harris, then stiff-armed safety Orion Stewart en route to the end zone.

Beathard completed 7 of his 12 pass attempts for 110 yards. His passer rating was 116.7.

Linebackers Reuben Foster and NaVorro Bowman, who were limited in the 49ers’ final joint practice with Denver with shoulder ailments, started played 20 snaps apiece.

With Foster and Bowman on the field, the Broncos totaled just 63 yards of total offense. Bowman had two tackles, while Foster added one before the 49ers’ first-team defense was removed in the second quarter.

Foster underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder in February. Some NFL teams reportedly did not believe he would be available to play this season. He was cleared for full-contact drills on the eve of training camp.

The 49ers said Foster’s mild AC joint sprain in his right shoulder was not related to his previous injury. He was held out of contact drills on Thursday. Bowman was pulled out of practice Thursday with a similar condition.

Players who did not see action due to injuries were: Defensive linemen Aaron Lynch, DeForest Buckner and Ronald Blair, linebacker Sean Porter, defensive backs Will Redmond and Prince Charles Iworah, wide receiver Aaron Burbridge, and guard Joshua Garnett.

Jimmie Ward remains on physical unable to perform due to a hamstring injury. Ward could be activated when the 49ers return to practice.

--Undrafted rookie Victor Bolden supplied one of the lone highlights for the 49ers with a 104-yard kickoff return late in the fourth quarter.

--Eli Harold started at the strongside linebacker in place of Ahmad Brooks, who entered the game in the second quarter with the second-team defense.

--Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian connected with Jordan Taylor on a 19-yard touchdown pass against the coverage of newly signed 49ers cornerback Asa Jackson in the second quarter.

--Undrafted rookie Lorenzo Jerome started at free safety for the second game in a row. Jerome recorded two tackles and broke up a pass.

--Goodwin caught three passes for 44 yards. His first two receptions accounted for the first first downs from the 49ers’ No. 1 offense in the exhibition season.

--Rookie pass-rusher Pita Taumoepenu recorded a sack in the fourth quarter.

--The 49ers did not get much going from their top three running backs. Carlos Hyde gained 26 on eight carries. Kapri Bibbs had 6 yards on four carries. And Hightower had minus-1 yard on three attempts.

--Rookie running back Joe Williams entered the game with less than seven minutes to play. Guard Norman Price got blown back into the backfield on Williams second attempt, allowing Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris to, in essence, intercept the handoff from Barkley to Willliams.