49ers' run ends in NFC title game, 20-17 in OT


49ers' run ends in NFC title game, 20-17 in OT


SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers' unbelievable journey ended Sunday, as New York advanced to Super Bowl XLVI with a 20-17 overtime victory over San Francisco in the NFC Championship.Kyle Williams' fumble on a punt return gave New York the ball deep in San Francisco territory, setting up Lawrence Tynes for the game-winner from 31 yards out, 7:54 into overtime.
Tynes also delivered the game-winning kick in OT at Green Bay in the 2008 NFC title game.

On the game-turning play, New York's Devin Thomas recovered his second fumble of the day after Jacquian Williams stripped Williams.

You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it away in that fashion and to lose a game of this magnitude," Williams said in a somber 49ers locker room. "It is what it is. We're going to move forward as a team. Everyone has come to pat me on the back and the shoulder to say it's not me."
Early in the game, quarterback Alex Smith and tight end Vernon Davis picked up where they left off from a week earlier, twice burning the Giants with long pass plays.
But it was not enough on a cold and rainy day at Candlestick Park.

"Congrats to the Giants," head coach Jim Harbaugh said in his postgame press conference. "I thought they played a heck of a ballgame and found a way to win. You tip your cap to them."The 49ers' bid to advance to the Super Bowl for the sixth time in franchise history and the first time since the 1994 season fell short.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game, that's a great team over there," 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Mindi Bach. "It's all you can do -- everybody put everything in, I put everything in, put it on the table. Whatever happens, happens. ... It was a battle and they came out on top."
Nevertheless, even in defeat, it represented an end to a remarkable season. The 49ers were 6-10 last season, and expectations were low -- in large part because the lockout eliminated all offseason programs across the NFL."Whether we had to go to 100 times in overtime or win it in regulation, in our minds we knew that game had to be ours. We was going to win that game, but unfortunately we didn't," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said.
After the lockout lifted, Harbaugh quickly instilled a team-first attitude and mindset that focused, as he said, on getting one-percent better every day.At the end of training camp, all 53 men who earned spots on the roster, as well as the coaching staff, were rewarded with work shorts with name tags affixed to reinforce the commitment to the blue-collar mentality.When asked last week to sum up the 49ers in a word or two, Harbaugh answered: "I'll use six: The team, the team, the team. And with this team, that's not just a mantra, that's who they are."The 49ers embraced that mentality to a 13-3 regular-season record and NFC West title.Davis caught a 28-yard pass from Smith with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter to give the 49ers a 14-10 lead. The play broke an offensive drought that began after Smith hit Davis for a 73-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.The 49ers tied it at 17-17 when they drove 68 yards and scored on David Akers' 25-yard field goal with 6:42 remaining.The Giants took a 17-14 lead with 8:18 left in the fourth quarter on Eli Manning's 17-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham. The Giants went after 49ers fourth cornerback Tramaine Brock, who was pressed into service when Tarell Brown was knocked from the game at the end of the third quarter with a head injury when he collided with teammate Dashon Goldson.The Giants got a break to set up that score when punt returner Williams, handling the duties with Ted Ginn out with a knee injury, touched a punt, allowing the Giants to recover at the 49ers' 29-yard line. It would prove to be a precursor to disaster.
It was a back-and-fourth game throughout. After Davis' 73-yard touchdown, in which he blew past safety Antrel Rolle, the Giants evened things up early in the second quarter.The Giants matched the 49ers with a 10-play, 69-yard drive that was capped by Manning's 6-yard scoring pass to tight end Bear Pascoe, a 2009 draft pick of the 49ers. Pascoe was released at the end of training camp and never played a regular-season down with the 49ers.Manning repeatedly looked for receiver Victor Cruz, who was mostly matched against Rogers. Cruz caught eight passes for 125 yards in the first half. Four of his receptions came on the go-ahead drive, which ended with Tynes' 31-yard field goal with :02 remaining.Tight end Delanie Walker, who sustained a fractured jaw on Christmas Eve, returned to action just four weeks after the injury. He played most of the game, as the 49ers primarily used two-TE sets.
The disappointing defeat echoed a similar outcome in 1991, when Roger Craig fumbled with the 49ers leading 13-12 late in the fourth quarter, ushering in a 15-13 Giants win that harlted San Francisco's march to a third straight Super Bowl. The Giants defeated Buffalo in the Super Bowl.

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Quarterback
College: Iowa
Height: 6-2
Weight: 219
Selection: Third round, No. 104 overall

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers traded back into the end of the third round to select a quarterback to join Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the 49ers' roster.

General manager John Lynch's fourth trade of the draft netted the team the grandson of legendary NFL personnel man Bobby Beathard. His grandson, C.J., joins the 49ers after a four-year career at Iowa. Beathard completed 58.6 percent of his passes last season with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Beathard was not generally expected to be chosen within the first two days of the draft. He was the sixth quarterback selected, falling behind Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Deshone Kizer and Davis Webb.

"They won't regret it," Beathard said on a conference call with the Bay Area media.

The 49ers traded up with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had the No. 104 pick, and called the 49ers to see if they were interested in a trade. After some consideration, the 49ers decided to move up from No. 109 while also giving the Vikings a seventh-round pick at No. 219.

"Might he have been there at 109? That’s what we had to weigh," 49ers John Lynch said. "But at the end of the day, we felt like it was worth it to be able to go to bed knowing that we had a player that we liked and want the opportunity develop at the quarterback position."

And that's what coach Kyle Shanahan plans on doing. He said Beathard is not coming to the team this season to compete with Hoyer for the starting job.

"We’re bringing him in here to develop him and give him a chance, but just like any other position, everyone competes," Shanahan said. "Brian is our starting quarterback and, right now, Matt Barkley is our second. And I look at him to come in and be our third with us only having three on the roster.

"By no means did we come into this draft thinking we’re going to get a guy to compete with Brian."

Shanahan said Beathard and Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman were the two quarterbacks in the draft who ran offenses in college most similar to the offense he will install with the 49ers.

"One thing that helps is being able to see guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play," Shanahan said. "It helps being at Iowa and watching the system he’s in. It’s easier to see to watch him over the years. He’s a three-year starter. He’s led his team to a bunch of wins, especially in 2015 when they had a better team and he played unbelievable."

As a junior at Iowa, Beathard completed 61.6 percent of his pass attempts for 2,809 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. 

"He’s a leader. He’s tough. He processes very well," Shanahan said. "He's extremely accurate and he lives and dies football."

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Cornerback
College: Colorado
Height: 6-2 3/4
Weight: 193
Selection: Third round, No. 66 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a Sacramento native, in the third round of the NFL draft with the No. 66 overall pick.

“Being close to home is an incredible opportunity, as well as the type of defense they play -- press man, up in your face,” Witherspoon said. “When I came in for a visit, they were asking me if I’ve adopted that role and if I’d be willing to continue that. And I said, ‘Absolutely.’

“It’s an opportunity to play for such a great organization, close to home, with such a savvy defensive mentality. I think it’s going to be a great place for me.”

The 49ers were also scheduled to have the next pick, but traded the selection at No. 67 for the New Orleans Saints’ second-round pick in next year’s draft, as well as a seventh-round selection (No. 229 overall) this year. The 49ers now have 10 picks in next year’s draft.

The Saints used that pick at No. 67 to select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

Witherspoon began his college career at Sacramento City. He played his final three college seasons at Colorado. He started 12 games last season and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Witherspoon led the nation with 22 pass breakups. He recorded one interception -- a game-saving pick in the end zone to preserve a 41-38 victory over Oregon. A pre-med student majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, he said he aspires to be a doctor after his football career.

But Witherspoon said he is committed to football and promised the 49ers during his visit to Santa Clara that he will make huge strides over the next few years as he continues to develop as a player.