Gore a non-factor as 49ers lose a laugher


Gore a non-factor as 49ers lose a laugher

SEATTLE -- Within the losing 49ers locker room Sunday night, there was some muffled laughing and joking about, presumably, non-football matters.

But in Frank Gore's corner, he could not muster a smile -- only positive thoughts after the 49ers' 42-13 thumping at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.

The 49ers came out with the intent of throwing the football, as evidenced by quarterback Colin Kaepernick's three consecutive incomplete passes to open the game. When the 49ers got the ball for a third possession, they were already down 14-0.

Gore was a non-factor throughout. He averaged 4.7 yards per rushing attempt, but he carried just six times in the entire game for 28 yards.

"The score got out of reach and we had to try to make quick hits and that's what it was," Gore said.

Not much went right for the 49ers. They converted just 3 of 11 third-down attempts, while the Seahawks had their way with a Justin Smith-less 49ers defense. The Seahawks were successful on 11 of 13 third downs, including a kneeldown when the team was running out the clock at the end of the game.

It was a laugher, all right. Some players privately joked in the locker room, which seemed a little out of place, considering what occurred on the field just minutes earlier. But many of the 49ers' leaders struck entirely serious tones.

Kaepernick was in a sour mood throughout his clipped 2-minute, 33-second session with reporters. Safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Patrick Willis were among the veterans who spoke eloquently about bouncing back from the biggest loss of the Harbaugh era.

And Gore remarked on how all of the 49ers' season goals remain intact.

"We're all right," Gore said. "We know what kind of team we got. We got a good team. We got to bounce back next weekend and go forward in the postseason.

"No game is easy, but we're going to stay together as one, like we always do and keep fighting, and go get the goal we want to get."

Gore is the 49ers' best offensive player, and it only goes to reason that if he is held to six touches, the 49ers will not win.

The 49ers (10-4-1) now need a victory over the Arizona Cardinals and a Green Bay loss at Minnesota to gain the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. With the third seed, the 49ers would host a playoff game in the opening weekend and, with a victory, travel to Green Bay in the divisional round. If the 49ers win and the Packers win, the 49ers would be NFC West winners and the No. 3 seed. If the 49ers lose to the Cardinals and Seattle wins against St. Louis, the 49ers would enter the playoffs as a wild-card entry, the No. 5 seed.

Gore said coach Jim Harbaugh was emotional when he spoke to the team after Sunday's game. The message: In the big picture, the embarrassing loss to the Seahawks is no big deal if the 49ers take care of business.

"He knows what type of team he has, and we're going to stay together as a team, try to win next week and if don't get the No. 2 spot, we got to go on the road," Gore said.

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

The 49ers on Monday extended one-year qualifying offers to nose tackle Mike Purcell and linebacker Carl Bradford as exclusive-rights free agents.

Purcell appeared in 15 games last season. He started the first five games of the season at nose tackle and was a reserve for the remainder of the season. Originally signed in 2013 as an undrafted rookie from Wyoming, Purcell has appeared in 25 games over the past three seasons.

The 49ers claimed Bradford off waivers in December from the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in the final two games of the season with the 49ers and was credited with two tackles.

Bradford entered the NFL out of Arizona State as a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2014. After being inactive for every game as a rookie, Bradford was among Green Bay’s final cuts in 2015. He spent the season on the practice squad.

He appeared in four games for the Packers last year. The 49ers claimed him after he was waived in December.

Exclusive rights free agents are player who have fewer than three years of NFL service who have no outside negotiating power if a team extends a qualifying offer.

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.