Ginn hopeful for Sunday, Harbaugh happily cryptic

639136.jpg

Ginn hopeful for Sunday, Harbaugh happily cryptic

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is demonstrating that his team's success is blind to the names on his players' jerseys. The 49ers have two wins without the man they expected to anchor their return game, and without the man acquired to ensure third-and-short conversions.San Francisco is beating the NFL's best, bereft of their depth chart champions.Ted Ginn and Brandon Jacobs are still inactive, but their replacements have stepped up in such a major way that head coach Jim Harbaugh is having reservations about plugging in his veterans when they're healthy.

Ted Ginn and Brandon Jacobs are yet to be active, but their replacements have stepped up in such a major way, that head coach Jim Harbaugh is having reservations about plugging in his veterans when they're healthy.

MAIOCCO: Roles for Ginn, Jacobs

Ginn and Jacobs were in the locker room on Tuesday, and they looked healthy. While Jacobs and his knee are less than likely to be ready by Sunday, Ginn's ankle is progressing.

"It's better." Ginn said. "I'm taking it day by day."

Asked if it was realistic to hope he'll play in the team's Week 3 assignment in Minnesota, Ginn responded, "I hope so."

Kyle Williams has handled the lion's share of the return duties in Ginn's stead, and he has handled them admirably. Williams safely returned one punt Sunday for eight yards, and handled one kickoff. His only Week 1 punt return went for 20 yards and set up David Akers' record-tying 63-yard field goal at halftime.

While a contingent of the 49ers fan base did not want to see Williams back deep after his performance in the 2011 NFC Championship, neither Harbaugh nor Williams have let it affect their plans or preparations.

It is unclear how the responsibility will be handled after Ginn's return.

Behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, going for 64 yards on 14 rushes. Without a third-down bruiser like Jacobs, the 49ers have converted six of 20 third downs so far.

"We're going to play the guys you feel each week that give us the best chance to win and are practicing better and who ultimately are going to play better in the game," Harbaugh said, "You also need to see that on the practice field."

Ginn and Jacobs have not been seen practicing, and Harbaugh is enamored with the idea that his opponents know as much as the rest of us with regard to who will be on the field Sunday.

"There are a lot of possibilities there," Harbaugh said. "And you like to have your opponent think about all those possibilities."

Kelly benched Kaepernick to see if Gabbert could provide spark

Kelly benched Kaepernick to see if Gabbert could provide spark

CHICAGO – The 49ers on Sunday had the second-worst passing day in the 71-season history of the organization.

Coach Chip Kelly made the move at the beginning of the fourth quarter to bench quarterback Colin Kaepernick in favor of Blaine Gabbert as the 49ers sunk to new depths with a 26-6 loss to the Chicago Bears on a cold, snowy day at Soldier Field.

Kelly said he made the move because it was clear to him that Kaepernick was not coping well with the inclement conditions. Kaepernick completed just one of five passing attempts for 4 yards through three quarters. He was sacked five times for minus-25 yards.

Kelly was asked afterward if Kaepernick would regain his starting job for next week’s game against the New York Jets.

“We haven’t had any discussions about anything,” Kelly said. “It was just my decision to make a move to see if we could get a spark and see where we were.

“At that point in the game, we’re down a couple of scores (18 points) and, obviously, we have to throw it a ton. So we just wanted to see if we could get a spark for our team. There were no permanent decisions or anything like that.”

Gabbert did not have much more success in his one quarter of action. He completed four of 10 attempts for 35 yards. He was sacked in the end zone late in the fourth quarter for a safety.

“Yeah, I was surprised,” Kaepernick said of his benching. “It wasn’t something I expected. I’m always prepared and ready to do everything I can to help this team win.

“It’s not about my feelings. It’s about being able to help this team win. This coaching staff didn’t feel like I was, you know, out there being able to help this team win, so they made a change -- whether I agreed with that or not.”

The 49ers stuck with the running game for most of the game. Running back Carlos Hyde gained 92 yards on 20 rushing attempts, while Kaepernick rushed six times for 20 yards.

Kelly took the conservative approach in conditions that were snowy, wet and near freezing. There was no wind. Kelly was asked afterward if he might have been too cautious with Kaepernick.

“No, I was just watching how the ball was coming off his hands and what our chances were of completing it,” he said. “Maybe I was too cautious, but it didn’t look like we were doing much in the passing game.”

Kelly pointed out that the weather did not appear to have much of a negative impact on Bears quarterback Matt Barkley, who completed 11 of 18 passes for 192 yards.

“Both teams played in the same weather, so I don’t look at that as an excuse, in terms of we had the same weather that they had,” Kelly said. “Both teams had to deal with it, and they dealt with it better, especially in the pass game.”

Said Kaepernick, “I think the weather was something that definitely played a factor. We have to be able to do a better job managing that, handing it and being able to throw the ball, still.

“More than anything, it was tougher throwing a wet football. Once again, we have to be better at, being able to handle it.”

The 49ers had just 6 yards of net passing in the game. Kaepernick and Gabbert combined for 39 yards passing. Negative yardage on sacks counts against net passing yardage in the NFL, and the 49ers had 33 yards in sacks.

The 49ers franchise-worst game in passing is minus-10 yards. Quarterbacks Bob Waters and Lamar McHan combined for 63 yards passing against the Detroit Lions on Oct. 6, 1963. The 49ers gave up 73 yards in sacks to account for the negative yardage.

“It was just one of those days,” Gabbert said. “It’s not on any single guy’s shoulders why we didn’t win this football game and why we didn’t execute as an offense.”

Kaepernick had been playing some of the best football of his career entering Sunday’s game. In the 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins a week earlier, Kaepernick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns and gained 113 yards rushing.

“We have to continue to keep building, keep progressing,” Kaepernick said. “This is a setback, most definitely, but we have to be able to keep pushing forward.”

On Sunday, the NFL Network reported Kaepernick planned to opt out the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Kaepernick said he is not looking ahead to the offseason.

“Once again, like I’ve said all along, my focus is on the next game,” Kaepernick said. “So my focus has been on the Bears this past week.”

When asked whether he expects to remain the 49ers’ starter, Kaepernick answered, “That’s not my decision. My feelings on it really don’t matter at this point. I’m just going to do everything I can to make sure I’m prepared.”

 

Chip Kelly coached 49ers in Chicago despite father's death

kelly-bears-ap.jpg
AP

Chip Kelly coached 49ers in Chicago despite father's death

CHICAGO – Paul Kelly, the father of Chip Kelly, passed away on Friday night, the 49ers coach confirmed Sunday afternoon.

Kelly flew from Chicago to New Hampshire late Friday after learning of his father’s death. He returned for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. The 49ers lost their 11th consecutive game, a 26-6 defeat to the Bears.

When asked if he considered not coaching in the game, Kelly told CSNBayArea.com, “My mom wanted me to coach.”

Kelly said the team was making travel plans to send him back to New Hampshire after the game to be with his family, including his mother, Jean.

General manager Trent Baalke informed the 49ers’ players during a meeting Saturday morning in Chicago.

Paul Kelly was a retired trial lawyer and a member of the New Hampshire Bar from 1960 to 2000.

In a 2009 profile on the Kelly family in the Oregonian, Paul Kelly was described as “cerebral, successful and competitive.” The article states that throughout Chip Kelly's childhood, his father preached, “Deeds, not words.”

The 49ers released a statement from Baalke on Sunday evening, as the team prepared for its trip back to the Bay Area:

“The thoughts and prayers of the entire San Francisco 49ers organization are with Chip and his family as they face the difficult process of grieving the loss of a loved one. Understandably, coach will take some time to be with his family before returning to the team this week. Chip has our continued support as he mourns the passing of his father.”