Arizona patiently waits for return on Kolb investment


Arizona patiently waits for return on Kolb investment

SANTA CLARA -- Kevin Kolb's name came up a lot in offseason speculation for three NFC West teams.The St. Louis Rams' quarterback situation was set with Sam Bradford, but the 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks were viewed by many as logical landing spots for Kolb.As it turned out, the Cardinals wanted him badly, and acquired Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles shortly after the lockout lifted.After losing six games in a row with Kolb at the controls, the Cardinals are on a two-game win streak . . . with second-year player John Skelton as the quarterback. And Skelton will likely be at quarterback when the Cardinals visit the 49ers on Sunday.

Kolb has missed the past two games with a toe injury, and has not been cleared to practice, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said Wednesday in a conference call with Bay Area reporters. So Whisenhunt wanted no part in discussing the possibility Skelton might be the better option even when Kolb is healthy."Kevin hasn't been cleared to play, and he's only limited in practice. So there's no point, really, to even talk about this," Whisenhunt said. "I understand the interest and all the questions, but John has done exactly what we asked him to do, which was come in and play. Until we have a situation where we face that, there's no point in talking about that."The Cardinals acquired Kolb in a trade from the Eagles for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick. Arizona then awarded Kolb a five-year, 63 million extension. So the organization has invested heavily in Kolb.
"The intention of getting Kevin was for our future going forward, so we could grow as a group with a young guy that we felt could play the position," Whisenhunt said. "And that's still the intent. I think it's very difficult when you don't have an offseason. You're in a new offense. You're asking him to do things that he hasn't done for you before. When you get only six weeks of preparation and preseason and putting him in where the real bullets fly, it's difficult."With the challenges that teams faced with the compressed offseason, Whisenhunt was asked if it was even more impressive what the 49ers (8-1) have accomplished this season with quarterback Alex Smith learning the new offense Jim Harbaugh brought with him."That's a fair statement," Whisenhunt said. "They're an impressive football team. I think they've had a number of guys who have been there together working for a couple years. I know it seems like we've seen a lot of those guys the last couple of years."Kudos to Alex. I think they're a very talented bunch, and they're well-coached. I think Coach Harbaugh has done a great job with those guys."

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.


49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

SANTA CLARA -- General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan sat down with 49ers pass-rusher Aaron Lynch shortly after assuming their new roles to give him an outline of what was expected.

Aaron Lynch entered the NFL in 2014 as a fifth-round draft pick despite having the talent worthy of a much-earlier selection. There were concerns about his commitment and character.

Lynch showed plenty of promise in his first two seasons. He tied for the club lead both seasons with six and 6.5 sacks, respectively. Last year, Lynch reported to the offseason program 30 pounds overweight. He was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy of substances of abuse. Then, he missed considerable time with an ankle injury. In seven games, Lynch recorded just 1.5 sacks.

John Lynch and Shanahan told Aaron Lynch his past transgressions would not be held against him, but he had to work hard and prove himself. As Lynch enters the final year of his original four-year contract, his spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster is anything but a certainty.

“Basically, everybody on this team, no matter what has happened before you came into the league or when you’ve been in the league, they’re not holding that against you and it’s a new clean slate,” Lynch said. “So I need to do everything I can to make sure I have a clean slate with them.”

Lynch is currently working with the second unit at the “Leo” position on the 49ers’ defensive line, behind Arik Armstead.

“’Leo’ is a lot of damn fun, so, yeah, I like it a lot,” Lynch said. “You get to set the edge and go get the quarterback.”

Lynch said he is in better physical condition than he was a year ago at this time. He said his target playing weight is in the 260-270 range. He said he is currently in the 280s.

“I came in heavy, but I’ve been working my (butt) off to get down to where my coach wants me to get down to, and where I feel I would be best to give everything I can for my team and do what I can for my team,” Lynch said.

While the 49ers did not witness any improvement in Lynch's commitment at the beginning of the offseason, things seem to be turning around. Shanahan said Lynch has missed only one day of the team's voluntary offseason program -- an excused absence to deal with a situation concerning his wife.

“There’s no doubt Aaron’s going in the right direction for us," Shanahan said. "He came in in the offseason, we challenged him hard with just the way we worked and stuff. He hasn’t shied away from any of it. He’s jumped in on all of our stuff.

"So he’s gotten better each day. He’s gotten more in shape each day and I’m seeing it on the field each day.”