49ers

49ers notes: Who will back up Gore?

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49ers notes: Who will back up Gore?

SANTA CLARA Just who will pick up the slack for injured 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams and running back Kendall Hunter is yet to be determined. The two were placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, and are done for the year after getting hurt on the same play in New Orleans on Sunday.

MAIOCCO: How do 49ers replace Williams & Hunter?

The quarterback situation is also unofficial at this point, as head coach Jim Harbaugh isnt expected to announce his starter until Wednesday, at the earliest.

The message from inside the San Francisco locker room, however, is crystal clear. No matter who suits up on Sunday against the Rams or is lined up when the ball is snapped, the players who spoke with the media on Tuesday projected a absolute belief in the roster from top to bottom.

Yeah, were very confident, safety Donte Whitner said. These guys have been on our developmental team, is what we like to call it here. Theyve been in two, three, four times a week, lifting and running, doing everything that we do in practice, and still going to the same meetings. So, when called upon, we expect guys to step up. We believe that they will.

That was a major hit. Kyle and Kendall are both go-to guys in our offense, running back Anthony Dixon said. They made a lot of plays for us this year, and to see them go down on one play man, thats crazy. We pride ourselves on being a stacked team, on being deep, and we just got to show up this week.

Frank Gore, who has 914 rushing yards on 5.2 yards-per-carry and five touchdowns, will continue to get the majority of carries. But after that, its up in the air. Second-round pick LaMichael James may be the most intriguing option, although Dixon and Brandon Jacobs are also available.

Dixon has just 48 yards on 12 carries this season, while Jacobs didnt get his first touch until last Sundays game against New Orleans, when he carried it once for a single yard.

James, a 5-9, 185-pounder out of Oregon, could provide a change of pace in the backfield from the bruising Gore, just as Jenkins was doing before his injury. In fact, Whitner compared him to a player that the Niners saw just last weekend.

Hes a guy similar to Saints running back Darren Sproles. He can still carry the ball up inside. I know hes anxious to get out there and play, Whitner said.

Dixon, too, was complimentary of his teammate in the backfield.

I expect dynamic plays, man, Dixon said. I watch him every day on the practice field, and hes making plays, going up to get the ball. They have him doing Percy Harvin stuff when were playing teams like that, and he really is a great talent. I feel like hes going to come in and make plays. I know hes hungry. He hasnt got the chance to really get his feet wet yet, so I know hell come in with the hunger. I expect a lot of great plays out of him.

Gore said: "He's been working hard, he's been practicing hard. I know he wants to play. I know running backs coach Tom Rathman or coach Harbaugh, if they decide he'll be the next guy, I know coach Rathman will get him ready to play."

As for the recent opening at the wide receiver position, theres a chance 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins could get on the field. If thats the case, Whitner, who has spent plenty of time covering him in practice, appeared anxious to see what Jenkins can bring.

A.J. is an extremely talented guy. He came in here, and we have a lot of depth at wide receiver, but hes been getting better and better as hes been going against the first team defensive backs in practice. Hes actually made some plays on us, and made some big plays, Whitner said.

Colin Kaepernick made a brief appearance in the San Francisco locker room to get dressed, and was quickly surrounded by microphones, cameras and iPhone voice memo recorders. After a brief chat with a Niners PR rep, though, the media was informed that the probable starter for Sunday wouldnt be talking until Wednesday.

The team has still not been informed whether it will be Kaepernick or Alex Smith behind center on Sunday, according to Whitner.

They havent told us who that guy is. Thats all coachs decision. I know Alex really wants to get in there and I know Kap really wants to get in there.

It is a tough situation, especially when you have a good football team and those guys are really good competitors. Its tough. I believe that coach will make the right decision on which guy he wants to go with, and that guy will go in there and do an outstanding job for us.

Kaepernick, of course, has played very well the past two weeks, leading the Niners to wins over the Bears and Saints after Smith suffered a concussion the previous week against St. Louis.

Gore said: "Kap's a football player. We've got two good quarterbacks. Whatever way coach decides to go, we're behind him. They're both going to play well. It don't matter."

Gore was unambiguous in stating theres no fear of a quarterback dilemma dividing the locker room.

"That's not here, he said. We're a team. That's one thing about our locker room. We're one. We're all as one. If it's Alex, we're going to be behind Alex. If it's Kap, we're going to be behind Kap."

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

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AP

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

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AP

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.