49ers notes: Harbaugh wins debut against rival


49ers notes: Harbaugh wins debut against rival

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jim Harbaugh was only going to get one chance to win his NFL coaching debut. And he accomplished that against Pete Carroll, his heated rival from their days together in the old Pac-10 Conference."What I'm thinking about right now (is) the great feeling of winning, the great thrill of winning a game," Harbaugh said after the 49ers' 33-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Candlestick Park. "That's what makes football fun."I'm sure it won't be too many hours until I really start thinking about this week."RATTO: Conservative Harbaugh ekes out first NFL win
Harbaugh's parents, Jack and Jackie, were in attendance at Candlestick Park, and even Mom has coachspeak down to a science."We take them one game at a time," Jackie Harbaugh said. "Every game is a momentous occasion."And the next momentous game will take place Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Candlestick Park.Harbaugh became the sixth 49ers coach to win the season opener in his first year. Harbaugh is the seventh coach to win his first game. Defensive line coch Jim Tomsula won his first game after taking over as interim coach for fired Mike Singletary at the end of last season.Harbaugh's victory against Carroll did not include any catching post-game exchange at midfield, such as the "What's your deal?" back-and-forth after Stanford's decisive win over USC in 2009.Instead, the winning coach told Carroll, "See you on the road." Carroll responded, "Yep." The two men shook hands.
The 49ers travel to face Seattle in the return game on Dec. 24.CRABTREE NOT HEALTHY: Receiver Michael Crabtree, who did not play in any exhibition games, played just one snap in the second half due to soreness in his left foot. He underwent X-rays after the game, which proved negative, he said.That was a relief to Crabtree, who feared the pain in his foot was a recurrence of the fracture that required surgery in July. Crabtree returned to full practice last week.
"It was hurting so bad that I was concerned," Crabtree said. "If it's like that, I'll just have to fight through it."Crabtree played about a dozen snaps in the game and caught one pass for 4 yards. He did not start the game, but got onto the field for the second play of the game. He watched the final 1 12 quarters from the sideline.
Earlier in the game, Crabtree was clearly frustrated on one play deep in Seahawks' territory when quarterback Alex Smith did not spot him in the end zone on a failed third-down pass play that led to a short David Akers field goal.
"I shouldn't have done that," Crabtree said of his reaction. "I'm so competitive, and I spazzed out a little."APPLYING THE PRESSURE: The 49ers' pass rush had a field day against Seattle's offensive line, which was playing without left guard Robert Gallery. The 49ers sacked quarterback Tarvaris Jackson five times. Parys Haralson and Justin Smith recorded two sacks apiece, and Ray McDonald came through with a sack to end the Seahawks' first drive."We had a good game plan going in," McDonald said. "We knew we had to keep Tarvaris in front of us. We knew he was a good running quarterback. We stayed in our rush lanes and did our job."NO-FRILLS OFFENSE: It wasn't exactly a thing of beauty for the 49ers's offense. The unit managed just 209 yards of total offense and 12 first downs. But the 49ers did not allow any sacks or commit any turnovers, either."Yeah, we were on top of it," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "That's where we are going with the blitz pickups. Just being smart with the football and not making dumb decisions. All in all, just coming out with the 'W.'"Quarterback Alex Smith got a bear hug from Harbaugh after his 1-yard touchdown run gave the 49ers a 16-0 lead with :12 remaining in the first half."We were all pumped up," Smith said. "I was jacked. You don't get to make plays like that as a quarterback very often, and to make it was special. To be able to be accountable to your teammates, to hold up your end of the deal, I was jacked."It was Smith's third career rushing touchdown and his first since scoring on a naked bootleg on Dec. 14, 2006, against Seattle.The play certainly had its share of risks. If Smith had been stopped at the goal line, the 49ers might not have been able to get the field-goal unit onto the field to get any points out of the situation. The 49ers were out of timeouts after Harbaugh lost a replay challenge earlier in the game."(If) he doesn't get in, we're scrambling to clock it and try to get the field goal before the half," Harbaugh said. "Rolling the dice, putting it in his hands, and he came up big for us. Toughness. Great job sticking it into the end zone by Alex."LEE'S CAREER DAY: Punter Andy Lee, a two-time Pro Bowler, set new career-highs in both gross average (59.6) and net average (54.2). Those marks were also the highest totals in 49ers' recorded history. THIS 'N' THAT: First-year defensive lineman Will Tukuafu made his NFL debut early in the second quarter. On his first play, Tukuafu caught a fumble out of the air after Haralson sacked Jackson. Tukuafu returned the fumble 12 yards to set up an Akers field goal. . . . Tramaine Brock, the team's third cornerback, made his first career interception on Jackson's desperation heave at the end of the first half. . . . On the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 911, recording star Brian McKnight sang the national anthem. Seahawks players, interspersed with military personnel, held the flag on their side of the field. "Coming out, 911, it was a very emotional time before the game," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. "It's good to come out of it with a win." . . . . Rookie Aldon Smith saw significant action as a defensive end in the 49ers' nickel package, as he replaced Haralson in those situations. Smith batted down a Jackson pass attempt for his only stat of the game. . . . Safety Reggie Smith and Brock were also inserted into the 49ers' nickel defense, replacing nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and starting free safety Madieu Williams. . . . The only known injuries were Crabtree and special-teamer Blake Costanzo, who appeared to sustain cramps at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The 49ers no longer release a post-game injury report.

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

After a couple of practices and one exhibition game against the Denver Broncos, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again came to the realization things are often not as good or bad as they seem.

That was his takeaway a day after the 49ers provided the Broncos with five giveaways to go along with 11 penalties in a 33-14 loss at Levi’s Stadium.

“But when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt,” Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “When you look at each situation, especially when you talk about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play, and if you have one guy off a little bit, it breaks down.”

A couple of passes that could have been caught, a ball that slipped out of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s hand and some other correctable errors gives Shanahan reason to be optimistic.

When he spoke to the media on Saturday night after the game, Shanahan was clearly upset with how his 90-man team performed. He was asked a day later if it was a relief to watch the film and come to the conclusion that not everything was a total disaster.

“It’s not really relief,” Shanahan quipped. “It’s kind of my life story.

“We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys (the media) after practice. But I’m pretty pissed after practice when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect. That’s why most of the time I’m not that happy.”

Shanahan said he expects everyone in the organization to hold themselves to the same high standard.

“Whenever you go out to a game like that, you want to win, you want to play well,” he said. “And you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. If they’re not, that’s when I would be worried.”

Shanahan said he had the opposite feeling after the practice Wednesday against the Broncos that looked like a decisive win for the 49ers. Upon review, Shanahan said he felt there was still a lot of room for improvement.

“I thought things seemed real good at practice our first day versus them,” he said. “Then, I go in and watch the film and it was good but not quite as good as I felt when I was out there.”

49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon


49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon

The 49ers could get their presumptive starting free safety back on the field this week.

Jimmie Ward, who has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since sustaining a hamstring injury during a conditioning test on the eve of training camp, will go through strenuous workouts Monday and Tuesday.

Ward could be cleared to return to practice as early as Wednesday, when the club is scheduled to hold its next practice.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will will pace him through a football-related workout on Monday and Tuesday.

"Hopefully, we'll get him ready to go by Wednesday," Shanahan said.

The 49ers envision Ward, a first-round draft pick in 2014, as a major contributor in the team’s new 4-3 scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. With strong safety Eric Reid playing close to the line of scrimmage, Ward will play the deep safety – a role that Earl Thomas has played for the Seahawks.

In Ward’s absence, undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games and appears to have played his way into solid position for a spot on the 53-man roster.

"Lorenzo has done a good job," Shanahan said. "I think a couple of times he's ran around and been a ballhawk for us and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he's been so aggressive. He's going to have to learn from those, but they never made him pay for those by going outside."

--The 49ers will have days off on Monday and Tuesday as they settle into their regular-season routine.

--Shanahan said he has been formulating ideas for the game plan against Carolina in Week 1 of the regular season. So as the 49ers play the exhibition games, they are mindful of not showing too much.

"I never get too far away from that," Shanahan said. "Everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season."

--Shanahan said he thought No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer "did a good job." He said the first throw intended for Vance McDonald over the middle was thrown a little late.

"Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads and went to the right spots," Shanahan said.

Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard also was on-point with his reads, Shanahan said.

--Eli Harold got the start Saturday night at outside linebacker position, as he competes with Ahmad Brooks for a job.

"I try to go off what I see in practice," Shanahan said. "You want to know who has more upside, things like that. Who's going to get better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But you also want to know, when it's all said and done, who is going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things I look at personally."

--Former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday. Shanahan never coached him, but he was obviously a big fan.

"I've personally met Anquan or talked to him before, but he has been one of my favorites of all time," Shanahan said. "I love Anquan. I don't know him at all, but I feel like I do because I've always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came into Florida State as a quarterback and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year.

"And I remember him coming into the league and people thinking he wouldn't be as great because he didn't have a fast 40 time. And watching him play over the years. That's my definition of a football player. He's as violent of a receiver as there is, and I've always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I feel lineman have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs, if you're not tough, you're not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. And when you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls."