Giants coach Coughlin hurls praise at Alex Smith


Giants coach Coughlin hurls praise at Alex Smith

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers have played the New York Giants three times since Alex Smith's rookie season, but Smith has never been on the field for any of those games due to injuries.
Still, the quarterback that Giants coach Tom Coughlin has witnessed this season is different than the guy he has seen in previous seasons, he said."I think he's managing the game much better," Coughlin said Wednesday in a conference call with Bay Area reporters."He's more confident. I think he realizes or believes it's his team and he's played well under his new tutelage. He has benefited from the style. He's got a 97 quarterback rating, which is darn good. And he's playing well. He's leading his team."The 49ers (7-1) face the Giants (6-2) in a game Sunday at Candlestick Park that could have seeding implications in the NFC playoffs. It's the first time the 49ers have been in this situation with Smith at quarterback.Smith ranks sixth in the NFL with a 97.3 passer rating. He ranks first in the NFL, averaging just one interception every 100 passing attempts. So the Giants defense does not figure to get many opportunities to make plays on the ball.Coughlin said the key for his defense will be patience."You got to, hopefully, create down and distance in your favor," Coughlin said. "And do the best you can to defend against the percentages. When it gets to down-and-distance circumstances in your favor, you got to do a good job on third down."The 49ers rank 26th in the league in third-down efficiency at 31.1 percent. Center David Baas, a former 49ers starter whom the Giants signed to a lucrative free-agent contract, is expected to be available for Sunday's game, Coughlin said. Baas (knee), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and receiver Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) missed the Giants' 24-20 victory over the New England Patriots. Bradshaw and Nicks are "day to day," Coughlin said.

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL


Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers


Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.