49ers notes: Better this year, Hampton's goals, mustaches etc.

900313.jpg

49ers notes: Better this year, Hampton's goals, mustaches etc.

SANTA CLARA -- Through one-half of the regular season games last year, the 49ers proudly held a 7-1 record and a commanding lead over their lesser NFC West opponents, who authored a combined five total wins through the ninth week in 2011.

This year, things are different. The 49ers can still be proud of the 6-2 mark they posted in the clubhouse at the turn, but the rest of the division is markedly improved. San Francisco has a 1.5-game lead over the second-place Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals are not far behind.

Though their stranglehold on the division isn't as strong as a year prior, quarterback Alex Smith recently told PFT Live that he believes this year's team is "way better" than last years. Do his teammates feel the same?

Mike Iupati:
"This team is better. We're in the second year of the same playbook, you know. We have weapons. Everything is better."

Jonathan Goodwin:
"It's different every year, man. I think we're better as a team this year. I just think as far as the games we lost, we had some missed assignments so that played a part in us going 6-2. Every year is different, we just lost more games at this point than we did last year.

"I do (think this team is better). I just think everybody has gotten acclimated and used to each other. We've had a year under our belt to get used to playing under this system. So everything is clicking a lot better."

Anthony Davis:
"Different, man. Different year, different team."

Delanie Walker:
"I feel like we're the same team. We just know the playbook a little more. And we're starting to gel. Everybody probably feels a little bit better together this year, just cause we gelled and we know what we can do. This team (would win head-to-head)."

The numbers don't lie. The 49ers offense is on pace for more first downs, yards and touchdowns. Meanwhile their defense has opponents on track to fare worse than last season in those key categories, impressive considering the historic defense the 49ers played a year ago.

RELATED: 49ers stats

Dan Kilgore suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff of the 49ers' Monday night win over the Cardinals on Oct. 26.

Ten days later at practice Tuesday, Kilgore was still sporting the black no-contact jersey.

"We're just taking it slow," Kilgore said. "Not exactly sure what the rules are, but with us taking last week off, we did it just in case."

He sounded as if he was plenty ready for contact.

"I feel good. I'm ready to go."

Jewel Hampton participated in his first 49ers practice Tuesday, wearing No. 33.

RELATED: Hampton returns to practice

The undrafted rookie underwent offseason foot surgery after he suffered an injury midway through his final season with Southern Illinois. He played through the pain en route to 1,121 yards, 17 touchdowns and a three-year deal with the 49ers.

Hampton will have a tough time working his way into San Francisco's backfield that is already crowded enough to keep Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James inactive. But Hampton wasn't shy about his goals.

"I'm all about being on the active roster," Hampton said. "There's no doubt about that. I feel like I can contribute to the team."

What does he see as his strengths?

"Be physical and stay in attack mode at all time."

If the 49ers do not activate him after a three-week window, beginning Tuesday, he would finish the season on the Non-Football Injury list.

Joe Staley is sporting a mustache. But it's no ordinary mustache, it's a "Movember" mustache.

"Movember," if you didn't already know, is an American movement in which males sport mustaches in an effort to raise awareness for men's health issues.

From the official website:
"During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of mens faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo's, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men's health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives."Staley announced his participation with a picture on Nov. 1:

Hello. Mustache time. creepstreet instagr.ampRfyl9kIQWU Joe Staley (@jstaley74) November 1, 2012

He's working on recruiting a few more 49ers for the movement. Brandon Jacbos was hesitant, but Leonard Davis seems to have taken the bait:

Can't believe it,...but I'm supporting Movember. twitter.comTHELEONARDDAVI Leonard Davis (@THELEONARDDAVIS) November 2, 2012

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”