Davis held without a catch, but still smiling

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Davis held without a catch, but still smiling

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' most-proven threat in the passing game did not touch the ball Thursday night.Moreover, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith did not even attempt a pass toward tight end Vernon Davis in the 49ers' 13-6 victory over the Seattle Seahawks."He's a big weapon for us," Smith said of Davis. "I feel very comfortable throwing the ball to him. We've had a lot of success. He's had a lot of success and teams are conscious of it."They (Seattle) were not going to give up the big plays. Yeah, they load the box, but you turn it (the game film) on and they were sprinting out of there and determined not to let us make a big play outside. And not let Vernon make a big play. The big plays were, you saw it, check the ball down. Those were the plays."In retrospect, Smith said he wishes there had been a more concerted effort to get the ball into Davis' hands. Davis had not been held without a catch in a game since the 2008 season."For sure, he's that type of player, no question," Smith said. "And I think the coaches and myself included look back, 'Let's do things differently,' because he is that type of player."49ers Mailbag: Smith makes it too easy for defenses
Davis is the 49ers' third-leading receiver with 23 catches for 340 yards and four touchdowns in seven games. The New York Giants held him to three catches for 37 yards on Sunday."The last past two or three games, they've been taking away a lot of my explosive routes up the red line, close to the sideline, my corner routes," Davis said. "They've been dropping the cornerback so I can't take that angle. They're bringing a safety and dropping him outside so I can't run up the red line. Those things. They're just looking for me."It's kind of frustrating, but I leave that up to the offensive (coaches). They know how to get guys involved. I'm sure it's something they'll be working on."It's not as if there were not plays designed to get the ball to Davis. One such play happened on the 49ers' first drive of the third quarter. Davis was the primary receiver on a pass that ended up going underneath to tight end Delanie Walker."I was supposed to come off Randy (Moss) and the ball was supposed to be there," Davis said. "Delanie popped wide open and I saw him out of the corner of my eye. (I) turned around, got the block and Delanie scored."Davis made a key block near the end zone on Walker's 12-yard touchdown pass from Smith for the only touchdown of the game.The 49ers had a difficult time generating much from the passing game on Thursday.
Wide receiver Mario Manningham was declared inactive with a shoulder injury. He sustained the injury early in Sunday's game against the Giants, his former team, and said he declined to come out of the game.Manningham felt discomfort while warming up before the game and did not suit up. He said he expects he'll be fine for the 49ers' next game, Monday, Oct. 29, against the Arizona Cardinals.The 49ers did not get much production from their wide receivers or tight ends. Michael Crabtree caught four passes for 31 yards. Running back Frank Gore was the leading receiver with five receptions for 51 yards."I want to win," Smith said. "That's ahead of everybody's feelings. It's the nature. There's one ball. Everybody wants to be involved. My hats off, especially to Vernon. I didn't hear one peep out of him and he blocked well all game. I think he was happy with the win. He could care less about anything else. Those are the types of guys we want."As the 49ers left for the weekend, Davis said it's easier to get away after tasting a victory."For me, I'm excited we won. As long as we win, I know that the more we win, the stage is going to get bigger, playoffs and stuff like that," Davis said."Of course, it's in my competitive nature to feel a little something as far as not getting the ball because I'm competitive, but I don't let that affect me or affect the team. . . If we win, I'll walk around here all day with a smile on my face."

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”