Falcons would be 49ers' easiest opponent

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Falcons would be 49ers' easiest opponent

The 49ers coaches are spending "the greater share" of the time this week preparing to face the New Orleans Saints.That's what coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday on 95.7 The Game. And there is certainly no reason to doubt him.Folks in Detroit -- including coach Jim Schwartz -- can take that however they want. Is Harbaugh saying he fully expects the Lions' season to end Saturday in New Orleans? Or are Harbaugh and his staff just playing the percentages?The 49ers have already prepared for the New York Giants. They faced the Giants on Nov. 13. The 49ers have not game-planned to face New Orleans or Atlanta this season. The 49ers will know Saturday evening whether they're going to face the Saints. They wouldn't know until early Sunday afternoon if their opponent will be New York or Atlanta.
Here's a brief look at the possibilities for the 49ers' playoff opener on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Candlestick Park in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs:ATLANTA FALCONS
How it happens: Detroit beats New Orleans on Saturday; Falcons win at New York Giants on Sunday.
Overview: None of these possible divisional-round matchups is going to be easy for the 49ers. But the Falcons would have the greatest disadvantage in a potential second-round game against the 49ers. First, the Falcons have to travel to New York this weekend. The Falcons play Sunday, and their game against the 49ers would be on Saturday -- a short week with a healthy dose of travel in between. The Falcons were 4-4 on the road this season, including a 45-16 loss to the Saints on Dec. 26. But they have a balanced offense with Michael Turner rushing for 1,340 yards, and quarterback Matt Ryan throwing to Roddy White (100 catches, 1,296 yards, eight touchdowns), Tony Gonzalez (80-875-7) and rookie Julio Jones (54-959-8).NEW YORK GIANTS
How it happens: Detroit beats New Orleans on Saturday; Giants win at home against Falcons on Sunday.
Overview: We've seen this one before. The 49ers outlasted the Giants 27-20 in a tightly contested game at Candlestick. This was the game in which Frank Gore rushed for 0 yards on six carries before leaving the game with a knee contusion. Alex Smith threw for 242 yards. Eli Manning passed for 311 yards with two touchdowns. Carlos Rogers intercepted two of Manning's passes. In this game, the 49ers caught the Giants napping with a surprise onside kick in the second quarter that led to a David Akers field goal. The game was not decided until Justin Smith batted down a fourth-down pass at the line of scrimmage from the 49ers' 10-yard line with 34 seconds to play.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
How it happens: Saints beat Detroit on Saturday.
Overview: There's something here. Reportedly, Saints coach Sean Payton was upset that Harbaugh did not return his call prior to their exhibition opener. Payton wanted to discuss with Harbaugh how to handle this game after just two weeks of preparation following the lockout. New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams threw an absurd number of blitzes at the 49ers. Alex Smith was sacked twice, hit many other times, and completed just 2 of 7 attempts for 10 yards. The Saints are a different team outside of the Superdome, though. But quarterback Drew Brees is Drew Brees. He averaged 342.2 yards passing per game for an NFL-record 5,476 passing yards. This would be outstanding theater. NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND
Saturday
AFC: Cincinnati at Houston (NBC), 1:30 p.m.
NFC: Detroit at New Orleans (NBC), 5 p.m.Sunday
NFC: Atlanta at N.Y. Giants (FOX), 10 a.m.
AFC: Pittsburgh at Denver (CBS), 1:30 p.m. NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
Saturday, January 14
NFC: New Orleans or N.Y. GiantsAtlanta winner at San Francisco (FOX), 1:30 p.m.
AFC: DenverPittsburghCincinnati at New England (CBS), 5 p.m.Sunday, January 15
AFC: HoustonDenverPittsburgh at Baltimore (CBS), 10 a.m.
NFC: N.Y. GiantsAtlantaDetroit at Green Bay (FOX), 1:30 p.m.

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

PHOENIX – The 49ers had a recent visit with Tampa Bay free-agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, general manager John Lynch confirmed on Sunday.

Smith, 27, sustained a torn right ACL in the Buccaneers’ season opener in September while running down the field on punt coverage against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers gave Smith a physical during his visit to Santa Clara. The club has yet to make a contract offer, Lynch said.

"We wanted to get him checked out medically, and we’ll see," Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings.

Smith (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) recorded 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seven sacks in 2015 for the Buccaneers.

After going undrafted in 2012 out of Missouri, Smith signed with Miami. He spent time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League before landing on the New York Jets’ practice squad. Smith worked his way into the Buccaneers’ defensive-line rotation in ’14 after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

The Buccaneers gave Smith the low tender of $1.797 million as a restricted free agent. Any team can sign Smith to an offer sheet. Tampa Bay would have the right of first refusal but would get no compensation if the team chooses not to match the contract.

With 71 players under contract, the 49ers have $74.5 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association.

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

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