Gore, Whitner replacements make big plays

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Gore, Whitner replacements make big plays

CINCINNATI -- Safety Donte Whitner left the game in the first quarter with a hip contusion. Running back Frank Gore sustained a right ankle sprain in the second quarter but remained in the game without much success.The 49ers got key contributions Sunday from their backups -- Reggie Smith and Kendall Hunter -- in the team's 13-8 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.It was another rough game for Gore, who gained just 42 yards on 17 carries. His fourth-quarter fumble led to the Bengals kicking a field goal for a 6-3 lead.Hunter, however, replaced Gore for most of the next drive and scored the game's only touchdown on a 7-yard run. Hunter finished with 26 yards on nine carries.

Gore played all but three of the 49ers' first-half offensive plays but saw considerable action on the sideline in the second half with Hunter getting the most action thus far of his rookie season. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Gore was removed because of the injury."I kind of tweaked and I couldn't go the way I wanted to," Gore said. "Yeah, I couldn't be myself. Some of the runs, I couldn't make the cut I wanted to make. Hopefully, I get better this week."When asked if he'd be able to play next week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Gore answered, "I can't tell until tomorrow. See how I'm feeling."Whitner sustained his hip injury when he landed hard while going for a third-down pass on the first drive of the game. He did not return to action."It's just a minor injury that a lot of guys get in this league. I expect to be back next week," Whitner said.When asked if there was a thought about returning to the game, Whitner said, "There was until I couldn't handle the pain. But I'll be ready. It's not that serious."With Whitner on the sideline, Reggie Smith entered at safety in nickel situations. His diving interception with 1:45 remaining all but clinched the 49ers' victory.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.

 

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

SANTA CLARA -- General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan sat down with 49ers pass-rusher Aaron Lynch shortly after assuming their new roles to give him an outline of what was expected.

Aaron Lynch entered the NFL in 2014 as a fifth-round draft pick despite having the talent worthy of a much-earlier selection. There were concerns about his commitment and character.

Lynch showed plenty of promise in his first two seasons. He tied for the club lead both seasons with six and 6.5 sacks, respectively. Last year, Lynch reported to the offseason program 30 pounds overweight. He was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy of substances of abuse. Then, he missed considerable time with an ankle injury. In seven games, Lynch recorded just 1.5 sacks.

John Lynch and Shanahan told Aaron Lynch his past transgressions would not be held against him, but he had to work hard and prove himself. As Lynch enters the final year of his original four-year contract, his spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster is anything but a certainty.

“Basically, everybody on this team, no matter what has happened before you came into the league or when you’ve been in the league, they’re not holding that against you and it’s a new clean slate,” Lynch said. “So I need to do everything I can to make sure I have a clean slate with them.”

Lynch is currently working with the second unit at the “Leo” position on the 49ers’ defensive line, behind Arik Armstead.

“’Leo’ is a lot of damn fun, so, yeah, I like it a lot,” Lynch said. “You get to set the edge and go get the quarterback.”

Lynch said he is in better physical condition than he was a year ago at this time. He said his target playing weight is in the 260-270 range. He said he is currently in the 280s.

“I came in heavy, but I’ve been working my (butt) off to get down to where my coach wants me to get down to, and where I feel I would be best to give everything I can for my team and do what I can for my team,” Lynch said.

While the 49ers did not witness any improvement in Lynch's commitment at the beginning of the offseason, things seem to be turning around. Shanahan said Lynch has missed only one day of the team's voluntary offseason program -- an excused absence to deal with a situation concerning his wife.

“There’s no doubt Aaron’s going in the right direction for us," Shanahan said. "He came in in the offseason, we challenged him hard with just the way we worked and stuff. He hasn’t shied away from any of it. He’s jumped in on all of our stuff.

"So he’s gotten better each day. He’s gotten more in shape each day and I’m seeing it on the field each day.”