49ers

49ers win opener thanks to Ginn's two return TDs

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49ers win opener thanks to Ginn's two return TDs

Sept. 11, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Here's the deal, Pete Carroll: Jim Harbaugh is one up on you at this level.Ted Ginn Jr. returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in a minute's span late in the fourth quarter, and the San Francisco 49ers gave Harbaugh a 33-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in his much-hyped NFL debut and renewed coaching rivalry with Carroll.Ginn ran a kickoff back 102 yards moments after the defending NFC West champion Seahawks had closed within 19-17. It was the second-longest kick return at home and fourth-longest in team history. He then scored on a 55-yard punt return.Alex Smith exhibited the poise and polish Harbaugh believed the 2005 No. 1 overall pick still had in him despite recent history, going 15 for 20 for 124 yards and running for a 1-yard TD. David Akers kicked four field goals in his first game with San Francisco.New Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw a late 55-yard touchdown pass to Harbaugh's former Stanford star, Doug Baldwin, in his Seahawks debut as Matt Hasselbeck's replacement.Harbaugh pulled Smith into a seconds-long bearhug after he hustled to the sidelines after his short TD run just before halftime in which he spun into the end zone to put the 49ers up 16-0. Ginn saved the game with a huge day on special teams. This is the guy who returned kickoffs of 100 and 101 yards for touchdowns in a 30-25 win for Miami over the New York Jets on Nov. 1, 2009.With his parents, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, in the stands to cheer him in the opener, the former NFL QB was as animated as ever - waving his arms, pacing the sidelines and congratulating his players at every chance.Dozens of American flags whipped in the wind off San Francisco Bay in the parking lots of sold-out Candlestick Park before the game on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. Flags inside flew at half-staff and many of the 69,732 fans sported red, white and blue.And San Francisco police considered it a well-behaved crowd at Candlestick, where fan violence and a shooting marred the Raiders-49ers exhibition matchup last month.Rivals dating to their days in the Pac-10, Carroll couldn't complain about Harbaugh running up the score in this one. Seattle's offense had enough problems for Carroll to worry about what was happening on the other sideline. The two quickly shook hands afterward and called it good.It was Carroll who in 2009 met Harbaugh at midfield postgame with a "What's your deal?" after Stanford ran up the score in a 55-21 rout at Southern California and even attempted a late 2-point conversion with the game out of reach.In Harbaugh's first season in 2007, the Cardinal traveled to Los Angeles as 41-point underdogs only to stun the second-ranked Trojans 24-23 and end their 35-game home winning streak.Akers kicked field goals of 27, 24, 31 and 18 yards in an impressive first game with the 49ers in place of the retired Joe Nedney.Jackson, Brett Favre's backup in Minnesota the past two seasons, completed his first six passes but was sacked twice in as many drives to start the game - by Ray McDonald and Justin Smith - and five times total. He was 21 of 37 for 197 yards and two TDs with one interception.First downs were scarce and San Francisco's defense stingy behind defensive tackles McDonald and Smith.The 49ers were 0 for 9 on third-down conversions before Smith's 12-yard completion to Braylon Edwards early in the fourth. Edwards wound up with three catches for 27 yards in his 49ers debut. He was given a fresh start by another Michigan man, Harbaugh.Same for Smith.Back on a one-year free agent deal when most everybody figured he'd turn up elsewhere, Smith generated cheers instead of boos from the home crowd. He made quick decisions and scurried out of trouble several times with defenders coming right at him.The Seahawks, 7-9 last year before stunning the reigning Super Bowl champion Saints in the playoffs for the first victory by a team with a losing record, have their work cut out for them to defend in a division that became known as the NFC Worst in 2010.One telling moment Sunday: Jackson was sacked by Parys Haralson, who forced a fumble that was recovered in the air by Will Tukuafu on his first career play from scrimmage. That set up Akers' second field goal.What a difference from last year's opener between the division foes.The 49ers lost at Seattle 31-6 last September on the way to a surprising 0-5 start that dashed San Francisco's hopes of winning the division. The 49ers returned the favor with a 40-21 home win in December but it wasn't enough to save then-coach Mike Singletary's job.Harbaugh was hired away from Stanford on a 25 million, five-year deal to turn around a franchise that has gone since 2002 without a playoff berth or winning record.Frank Gore, with a new 21 million, three-year deal after he missed the final five games last season with a fractured right hip, ran for 59 yards on 22 carries and made three catches for 19 yards. Vernon Davis had a team-high five receptions.

49ers' offense closes the gap against Broncos

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USATSI

49ers' offense closes the gap against Broncos

SANTA CLARA – It was clear during the past two summers that the Denver Broncos’ defense was far ahead of the 49ers’ offense. That should not come as a big surprise.

On Wednesday, it was a much closer match when the units practiced against each other on the 49ers' practice field.

The Broncos’ pass rush still gave some problems to the 49ers’ offensive line, but the 49ers connected on a lot more plays than it has in the past in their head-to-head meetings.

The biggest issue with the 49ers continues to be the play at the guard positions. The 49ers are set at offensive tackle with Joe Staley and Trent Brown. Daniel Kilgore appears settled in at center. But the 49ers might not be completely sold on Zane Beadles and Brandon Fusco at the guard positions.

However, starting quarterback Brian Hoyer said he believes the entire unit is doing a good job.

“I think those guys are doing a great job,” Hoyer said. “I think the scheme helps out those guys, too. For me, to evaluate the guard, you evaluate the whole offensive line because they work as a unit. It’s five guys working as one. Throughout this training camp, I think they’ve all done a great job.”

Still, it’s no coincidence that the best the 49ers’ offense looked on Wednesday was during a 7-on-7 passing drill that does not include offensive linemen.

Matt Barkley hit consecutive touchdown passes of 15, 10 and 5 yards with Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor and Bourne, again, on the receiving ends. Then, Hoyer hit Tim Hightower and Pierre Garçon on touchdowns, giving the 49ers five touchdowns during a six-play stretch.

QUICK SLANT

--Hoyer was especially sharp, completing better than 80 percent of his pass attempts during the 11-on-11 periods. Hoyer had five completions to Marquise Goodwin and four more to Garçon.

Goodwin, who has never caught more than 29 passes in a season, has put himself in position to have a breakout season as a starter.

“I really enjoy working with him,” Hoyer said. “You talk about a hard-worker. I was just out there with my family for 30 minutes and he’s still catching balls on the (machine), running up the hill. When you see guys who are really talented and willing to work that hard, they obviously have a chance to be something special.”

--Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard and receiver DeAndre Smelter teamed up for a picturesque 10-yard touchdown during a 7-on-7 drill with a well-thrown pass and leaping catch in the back left corner of the end zone.

49ers rookie DB gets way too physical during practice against Broncos

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AP

49ers rookie DB gets way too physical during practice against Broncos

SANTA CLARA – If the play had occurred three days later, 49ers rookie safety Adrian Colbert would have been fined $24,309 for an illegal hit.

The 49ers and Denver Broncos held a joint practice Wednesday on the 49ers’ practice fields behind Levi’s Stadium. Both teams were wearing pads, but live tackling was not allowed.

Colbert, a seventh-round draft pick from Miami, temporarily forgot the ground rules established by coaches Kyle Shanahan and Vance Joseph.

During a 7-on-7 period early in practice, Colbert launched himself at defenseless receiver Steven Scheu, a first-year tight end, and leveled him on an incomplete pass. Both players were OK. Players on both teams started pushing and shoving, but it did not turn into a melee.

“I thought our coaches handled it really well,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “First of all, I want to say, Adrian is a tremendous kid. I went over there and said, ‘Adrian, that’s not how we practice.’

“We talked about how we were going to conduct ourselves and he said, ‘Hey, I just lost my head. I was just tracking the ball.’ Next thing you know, he was there. I can’t tell you I haven’t been there myself.”

The 49ers held out Colbert out of some drills to “let things cool down” before he re-entered practice.

The 49ers and Broncos held the first of two days of practices. The teams meet Saturday night at Levi's Stadium in the second exhibition game for both teams.

QUICK SLANTS
--The 49ers’ defense had a very good day against the Broncos, who are trying to figure out whether Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch is their top quarterback. Neither player got much going against the 49ers’ defense on Wednesday.

--The 49ers’ secondary, including cornerbacks Rashard Robinson, Dontae Johnson and K’Waun Williams, held up well in coverage against Broncos wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The Broncos did not shake free for a deep pass completion at any point during the two-hour practice.

--Jaquiski Tartt was back with the first–team defense at free safety. He recorded an interception of Siemian on a pass intended for receiver Kalif Raymond that Robinson tipped into the air.

--Robinson was in coverage during a 7-on-7 drill in which Thomas caught a short touchdown. But Robinson came back on the next play to break up a pass.

--Solomon Thomas and Dekoda Watson got consistent pressure on the quarterback. Pita Taumoepenu routinely got past Broncos offensive linemen during one-on-one pass-rush drills.

--Cornerback Will Davis intercepted a pass from No. 3 quarterback Kyle Sloter during a 7-on-7 drill intended for rookie receiver Isaiah McKenzie.

--Linebacker Reuben Foster broke up a Siemian pass for tight end Virgil Green over the middle.

--Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon broke up two passes, including one on which he went high to get his hands on a Siemian pass for Jordan Taylor at the sideline.

--Newly signed cornerback Asa Jackson held up well in one-on-one coverage drills on multiple deep passes.

--Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, a friend of John Lynch, worked with 49ers defensive linemen.