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.

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."