49ers notes: Defense clamps down on Bills


49ers notes: Defense clamps down on Bills


SAN FRANCISCO -- Oh, yeah, we almost forgot . . . the 49ers' defense was pretty good, too.The 49ers held their second consecutive opponent without a touchdown on Sunday in the team's 45-3 thumping of the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. A week earlier, the 49ers humbled the New York Jets with a 34-0 victory in New Jersey.
The Bills entered Sunday's game averaging 28.8 points a game. They were held to three points and managed just 204 yards of total offense against the 49ers' stout defense.
"That's big in the NFL when you can shut down a team that averaged that many points to three (points), then your defense played a good game," said outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who recorded the 49ers' only sack."Defensively, (it was) outstanding as well," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Great team defense, great team victory."The 49ers' offense will get the headlines after churning out a club-record 621 yards. But a lot of the credit goes to the defense for allowing just 10 first downs to the Bills and keeping them off the field."The defense helped us, too, because they got us out on the field," 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis said.Cornerback Chris Culliver intercepted a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass at the San Francisco 2-yard line in the middle of the third quarter. That was the Bills' best opportunity get into the end zone.
FIRST-PITCH FOLLIES: Quarterback Alex Smith might have been off the mark with his ceremonial first pitch on Saturday night prior to the Giants' opening playoff game against the Cincinnati Reds. But he had a ready-made excuse."Yeah, I was keeping the ball down," Smith quipped. "Isn't that what good pitchers do? I was working the count, I had an open base."It was great. Last night was awesome. All jokes aside. It was great. Today, though, was the best. To get a win like this, a team win like this across the board."Smith completed 18 of 24 pass attempts for 303 yards and three touchdowns.INJURY REPORT: Alex Smith underwent a post-game X-ray on his right middle finger. X-rays were negative and both Smith and Harbaugh said it was just a sprain.Earlier, Harbaugh said he thought the injury was to Smith's non-throwing hand. But, as it turned out, Smith's finger on his throwing hand was wrapped.The 49ers did not appear to sustain any injuries in the game. The 49ers were completely healthy for the game. Veteran running back Brandon Jacobs, who went through a full week of practice, is healthy. But Jacobs was one of the team's seven inactive players.
NIT-PICKING PENALTIES : The 49ers saw three significant plays wiped out in the first half due to penalties.Vernon Davis had a 21-yard reception that came back due to Mike Iupati's holding penalty. Michael Crabtree had a 41-yard catch that was nullified by Frank Gore's chop block. And Colin Kaepernick had a 14-yard run that did not count because of Delanie Walker's tripping penalty."We had some frustrating penalties in the first half," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "But we came in at halftime and regrouped. Just decided we're going to start over."Said Gore, "You think about it, we were still hurting ourselves. We left a lot out there."In the game, the 49ers were penalized seven times for 53 yards."We obviously have to cut down on the penalties," Staley said. "That killed us early. We probably left about 100 yards out there on the field today, which is scary because that's how good our offense can be."SMITH-WILLIAMS CONNECTION: Alex Smith's 43-yard touchdown reception to Kyle Williams on a back-shoulder throw in the second quarter was not how the play was designed."That was the quarterback," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We practice back-shoulder throws and things like that, but we'd never done it on that play, that particular play. That was great improvisation by both Alex and Kyle."Said Williams, "That was just a great throw by him. Honestly, I've got to give him all the credit because he saw where the DB was positioned, he saw he was up high on me, so he put it in a place where only I could get it. It was a great play by him. He played great today. He played awesome."KAEPERNICK PACKAGE : Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick committed the 49ers' only turnover when the Bills recovered his fumble at the Buffalo 17-yard line. But the 49ers did not pull the plug on Kaepernick after that."They just told me to come back and keep playing," Kaepernick said. "That was the biggest thing everybody told me."Kapernick finished the game with 39 rushing yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run, on four carries."A lot of times we get in the open field because our offensive line is doing a great job," Kaepernick said. "(Fullback) Bruce (Miller) had some key blocks today when I was in there. They were just giving me a lot of space out there."BY THE NUMBERS : Jim Harbaugh has 18 victories in 23 games (including playoffs) as head coach. That's the same number of victories that Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary achieved in 55 and 40 games, respectively. . . The 49ers' 311 yards rushing was the most for the team since Dec. 14, 1998, vs. the Detroit Lions, when the 49ers rushed for 328 yards. . . It's the fourth-most rushing yards in franchise history . . . The 49ers improved to 24-7 when Gore rushes for at least 100 yards. . . Backup running back Kendall Hunter added a career-high 81 yards on 11 rushes. . . Undrafted rookie tight end Garrett Celek, the only 49ers' rookie in uniform, recorded his first career reception, a 4-yard pass from Smith . . . Kicker David Akers has kicked at least one field goal in 21 consecutive games to tie Bruce Gossett's team record. Gossett achieved the mark from Nov. 19, 1970, to Oct. 1, 1972. . . Linebacker Patrick Willis recorded his first forced fumble of the season and the 13th of his career.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.


49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

SANTA CLARA -- General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan sat down with 49ers pass-rusher Aaron Lynch shortly after assuming their new roles to give him an outline of what was expected.

Aaron Lynch entered the NFL in 2014 as a fifth-round draft pick despite having the talent worthy of a much-earlier selection. There were concerns about his commitment and character.

Lynch showed plenty of promise in his first two seasons. He tied for the club lead both seasons with six and 6.5 sacks, respectively. Last year, Lynch reported to the offseason program 30 pounds overweight. He was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy of substances of abuse. Then, he missed considerable time with an ankle injury. In seven games, Lynch recorded just 1.5 sacks.

John Lynch and Shanahan told Aaron Lynch his past transgressions would not be held against him, but he had to work hard and prove himself. As Lynch enters the final year of his original four-year contract, his spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster is anything but a certainty.

“Basically, everybody on this team, no matter what has happened before you came into the league or when you’ve been in the league, they’re not holding that against you and it’s a new clean slate,” Lynch said. “So I need to do everything I can to make sure I have a clean slate with them.”

Lynch is currently working with the second unit at the “Leo” position on the 49ers’ defensive line, behind Arik Armstead.

“’Leo’ is a lot of damn fun, so, yeah, I like it a lot,” Lynch said. “You get to set the edge and go get the quarterback.”

Lynch said he is in better physical condition than he was a year ago at this time. He said his target playing weight is in the 260-270 range. He said he is currently in the 280s.

“I came in heavy, but I’ve been working my (butt) off to get down to where my coach wants me to get down to, and where I feel I would be best to give everything I can for my team and do what I can for my team,” Lynch said.

While the 49ers did not witness any improvement in Lynch's commitment at the beginning of the offseason, things seem to be turning around. Shanahan said Lynch has missed only one day of the team's voluntary offseason program -- an excused absence to deal with a situation concerning his wife.

“There’s no doubt Aaron’s going in the right direction for us," Shanahan said. "He came in in the offseason, we challenged him hard with just the way we worked and stuff. He hasn’t shied away from any of it. He’s jumped in on all of our stuff.

"So he’s gotten better each day. He’s gotten more in shape each day and I’m seeing it on the field each day.”