Gore a non-factor as 49ers lose a laugher

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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.

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.”