49ers notes: Not a smooth day for refs in Detroit

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49ers notes: Not a smooth day for refs in Detroit

DETROIT -- It wasn't a smooth day for referee Mike Carey and his crew Sunday.And the 49ers felt as if they got the short end of several calls in their 25-19 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.Receiver Michael Crabtree said Carey had an "attitude." Cornerback Chris Culliver said it seemed as if the officials were "Detroit fans." But tight end Delanie Walker said he wasn't nervous when his go-ahead touchdown was being reviewed.

"I knew we had some bad calls early in the game, but I had a feeling that he saw me cross the plane (of the goal line) before my knee touched the ground," Walker said.But the 49ers were the beneficiaries of one glaring mistake by the officiating crew late in the game. Ted Ginn was forced out of bounds at the Detroit 40-yard line at the end of his long return with less than six minutes remaining in the game.Yet, when the 49ers' offense took the field, the ball mysteriously was spotted at the 35. There was no penalty called on the play. (Thanks to Twitter follower @LRushing0718 for initially bringing this to my attention.)The 49ers needed every yard they could get at that point in the game. It took them eight plays to go 35 yards for the go-ahead score, which came on Alex Smith's fourth-down pass for a 6-yard touchdown to Walker.Other notes from the game:--Coach Jim Harbaugh was cited for unsportsmanlike conduct for tossing a challenge flag to dispute Brandon Pettigrew's 9-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.TV replays showed Detroit coach Jim Schwartz yelling across the field at Harbaugh. He appeared to say, "Know the rules, Harbaugh" -- with, perhaps, a little colorful language thrown in there, as well.Harbaugh claimed after the game -- and after his little post-game shake-and-shove with Schwartz -- that he did know the rule. But he threw the flag anyway in hopes it would buy time for the mandatory replay review to alert Carey to take a look at the play.The 49ers were penalized 15 yards, and Carey never reviewed the play.Harbaugh and Schwartz could face some disciplinary action from the NFL, such as a fine. Said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, "We'll review it, as we would any altercation of that nature."--Safety Dashon Goldson was kicking himself for kicking the football after an incomplete pass on a second-and-10 from the 49ers' 22-yard line with the 49ers leading 15-13. He was penalized for delay of game."Ah, man," Goldson said. "I didn't realize what I'd done, to be honest with you. It was one of those things. I wasn't thinking. It was a mistake on my part. I'm just glad we came back and ended up winning the game."The Lions converted on a third and 5 (instead of a second and 10) after Goldson's penalty. Two plays later, Nate Burleson gave the Lions a 19-15 lead with a 5-yard scoring pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford.--Running back Frank Gore rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts. After averaging a measly 2.5 yards per carry through three games, Gore has turned it on with three consecutive games of more than 120 yards rushing.Gore has now rushed for 541 yards and four touchdowns on 109 rushing attempts to boost his season average to 5.0 yards.--By contrast, quarterback Alex Smith passed for just 125 yards. While Gore averaged 9.4 yards per rush attempt Sunday against the Lions, Smith averaged just 3.3 yards per pass attempt.Smith was off the mark throughout the game, particularly on his attempts to Crabtree, who was the intended target on 15 pass attempts. Crabtree ended up catching nine passes for 77 yards.But, of course, Smith saved his best throw for last. He put the game-winning pass to Walker exactly where he had to be to allow Walker to carry his momentum into the end zone on the slant pattern.--Inside linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis were outstanding. They helped limit the Lions to just 66 yards rushing on 18 attempts. Because the 49ers spent most of the game in their nickel defense, there was added pressure on Bowman and Willis to make plays. Speedster Jahvid Best had just 37 yards rushing on 12 tries for the Lions.--Let's go ahead an anoint defensive end Justin Smith as the best free-agent acquisition in 49ers history. The guy never stops. He had seven tackles, 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries.--It generally does not take long for good pass-rushers to show up in the NFL. And rookie Aldon Smith has arrived. He leads the team with 5.5 sacks, lining up mostly at right defensive end. Smith played a little outside linebacker, too, with starter Parys Haralson out of action in the second half with a hamstring strain.--The 49ers' kicking game was outstanding. Punter Andy Lee averaged 47.8 yards (41.0 gross) on nine punts. He landed four punts inside the 20-yard line.And kicker David Akers produced touchbacks on each of his five kickoffs. He also connected on all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 55-yarder on the final play of the first half. It's the first time in his career he has made three 50-plus-yard field goals in the same season.--Receiver Brett Swain won a tryout Tuesday that included NFL veterans T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Brian Finneran and Chris Chambers. He signed a contract with the 49ers that runs through the end of the season. He participated on special teams and saw action on one snap from scrimmage Sunday in his 49ers debut.

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”

 

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”