49ers notes: Jacobs, James hobbled; Gore, Hunter look ready

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49ers notes: Jacobs, James hobbled; Gore, Hunter look ready

HOUSTON -- The 49ers' newcomers in the backfield had rough nights.The incumbents, however, were just fine.Brandon Jacobs sustained a left knee injury at the end of his first and only snap of the night in the 49ers' 20-9 loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday night.He did not sustain any damage to his anterior cruciate ligament or patella, so that's good news, coach Jim Harbaugh said. It means Jacobs did not sustain a season-ending setback.Jacobs is scheduled for further evaluation Sunday, but the club is anticipating an early-season return for the short-yardage back.Running back LaMichael James, the 49ers' second-round draft pick, sustained a left ankle sprain late in the game. X-rays were negative, and James said he anticipates a speedy return to action. James tweaked the same ankle in the 49ers' exhibition opener and did not miss any practice time.James carried four times for 19 yards, and sustained his injury while blocking. He also averaged 25.7 yards on three kickoff returns and muffed one of his two punt returns.
Meanwhile, starter Frank Gore suited up after being rested as a precaution in the exhibition opener. Harbaugh declared Gore ready for the real games to begin."I think we're right on track with Frank," Harbaugh said.Gore played four snaps. On the second play from scrimmage, he gained 14 yards. On the next possession, he lost 2 yards to finish with 12 yards rushing on two attempts."They have a good defense," Gore said. "They have an active defense that can move real well. I was just happy to get out there and play with my guys and get into full contact."You could tell they (49ers offensive line) were doing a good job. From last year, they are feeding off of last year and they keep grinding. They're getting better. It's our second year in this offense and you can tell that we've grown."RECAP: 49ers' first-half report
Backup Kendall Hunter was on the field exclusively with the starting offensive line in the first half for each of his 17 snaps. He carried six times for 46 yards (7.7 average).
"It's just a compliment to the offensive line. Nothing would've been possible if the O-line wouldn't have got their blocks and opened the seams for me," Hunter said.Hunter also averaged 28.5 yards on two kick returns. The only blemish on Hunter's night was one breakdown in pass protection, to which Harbaugh alluded during his post-game comments.
In the two drives with Alex Smith at quarterback, the 49ers gained five first downs. Both drives stalled inside Houston territory. David Akers kicked a 50-yard field goal, and Anthony Dixon was stopped on a fourth-and-1 run attempt at the Texans' 20-yard line."Our drive stalled in the red zone. That's something we want to improve on going into next week," left tackle Joe Staley said. "I felt we were able to move the ball successfully. We had a lot of long drives. We just have to come away with touchdowns."We saw that last year. Too many field goals. It's a point of emphasis for us, so we'll watch the film and see what went right down there."RELATED: Smith blames self, not line, for punishment
Smith completed 5 of 9 passing attempts for 49 yards, including a 24-yarder to Ted Ginn on a third-and-5 on the opening drive. In three drives in the first two games, Smith has led the 49ers to 10 points and no punts."(We) got off to a good start last week and did some good things (Saturday)," Smith said. "It was kind of an up-and-down (night) for the starting unit. Put two long drives together, but didn't finish either of them. We'll learn from it, look at the film." Texans starting quarterback Matt Schaub played the entire first half. The 49ers' first-team defense was on the field for two series. The Texans drove 37 yards on seven plays to kick a field goal on the first drive of the game. The 49ers held Houston to a three-and-out on the second drive.On the first play against the 49ers' second team, Schaub hit All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson on a 43-yard pass against the coverage of safety Trenton Robinson and cornerback Tramaine Brock.The 49ers started Parys Haralson and Eric Bakhtiari at outside linebacker, as starters Aldon Smith (right hip) and Ahmad Brooks (left knee) remained in the Bay Area for rehab and treatment. Both Smith and Brooks are expected back at practice as early as this week.Bakhtiari played the entire game, and led the 49ers with seven tackles. He also had a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. The 49ers' only sacks came off second-half blitzes from linebacker Joe Holland and nickel back Michael Thomas. Rookie A.J. Jenkins' and third quarterback Josh Johnson hooked up for a beautiful 32-yard pass play on Johnson's second snap after entering late in the third quarter in place of Colin Kaepernick.Jenkins got separation against Houston cornerback Alan Ball, made an over-the-shoulder catch on a deep fade route and got both feet inboounds."It was a great ball by Josh," Jenkins said. "He threw it in the perfect spot. My job was easy. I just caught the ball."Jenkins had a prime opportunity for a touchdown on the next play, but Johnson overthrew him down the field.Jenkins had the one catch for 24 yards. Randy Moss had a team-leading three receptions for 24 yards.

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.”