Baalke leading candidate for NFL Exec of Year

547294.jpg

Baalke leading candidate for NFL Exec of Year

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers are cleaning up in the win-loss column. And, when that time comes, they figure to clean up in postseason awards, too.Jim Harbaugh is the leading candidate for NFL Coach of the Year. Really, he's the only candidate.
And I'm not sure voters need to look outside the 49ers for another legitimate candidate for NFL Executive of the Year, either.Obviously, team president Jed York played a huge role in hiring Harbaugh. But York made it clear that the general manager would hire the head coach. And that general manager, Trent Baalke, has pushed all the right buttons in his first year with his new title.The 49ers already had a strong nucleus of players. But beginning with the hiring of Harbaugh to a five-year, 25 million contract, Baalke was spot-on with his moves.Harbaugh was the 49ers' most lucrative and flashy offseason acquisition. But Baalke was also the point man during the draft, which netted pass-rusher Aldon Smith, third cornerback Chris Culliver, backup running back Kendall Hunter and starting fullback Bruce Miller.And during the frenetic free-agent signing period, the 49ers made several key moves to upgrade some key positions:--The club signed cornerback Carlos Rogers to replace released veteran Nate Clements.--The 49ers signed veteran Donte Whitner and re-signed Dashon Goldson to fill the safety positions.
--Kicker David Akers was signed to replace Joe Nedney.--The 49ers did not overpay to retain center David Baas. Then, they brought in respected veteran Jonathan Goodwin to take his spot. And they wisely spent the money left over.
--The most money the 49ers spent on a player contract went to defensive end Ray McDonald, who has upgraded the pass rush as an every down player. The 49ers have not felt the loss of nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, as Isaac Sopoaga moved over to fill the position in the middle of the defense.--The 49ers also locked up running back Frank Gore to a reasonable, three-year contract that eased Gore's concerns before the start of the regular season.--The 49ers also picked up receiver Braylon Edwards from the NFL bargain bin. He has yet to make a major impact, but he is a starter who still might factor prominently in the offense.
Here are some of the other postseason awards in which 49ers are on the "watch list" with seven games remaining in the regular season:Defensive Player of the Year: The 49ers have two strong candidates with linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive lineman Justin Smith. Both players would be logical selections for the award. Defensive backs Darrelle Revis (New York Jets) and Charles Woodson (Green Bay), and sack artists Jared Allen (Minnesota) and DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) are also strong candidates.Comeback Player: Quarterback Alex Smith. Some players, such as Tony Romo (Dallas), Matthew Stafford (Detroit) and Jermichael Finley (Green Bay), are playing at high levels after returning from injuries that wiped out their 2010 seasons. Carolina receiver Steve Smith has already blown away the numbers he put up last season in 14 games. Alex Smith missed a couple games last year due to an injury. But he is merely returning from an average season, as he threw 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions a year ago. But perception is everything, so Smith has a chance.Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aldon Smith has fallen behind in the race as his sack totals have slowed. He is not an every-down player, so that does not help his case. Von Miller (Denver), Ryan Kerrigan (Washington), and Brooks Reed (Houston) probably rank ahead of Smith on most ballots right now. But Smith can win the award with a strong conclusion to the season.

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”