Harbaugh going with Kaepernick Sunday

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Harbaugh going with Kaepernick Sunday

SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick has officially replaced Alex Smith as the 49ers' starting quarterback.Coach Jim Harbaugh announced his decision to go with the second-year player on Wednesday, the day the 49ers begin on-field preparations to face the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.The 49ers made an investment in Kaepernick, the first quarterback that was added to the roster after Harbaugh took over as head coach.The 49ers acquired the Nevada product when they moved up nine spots in the second round of the 2011 draft to select him with the No. 36 overall pick. The 49ers traded their second-, fourth-, and fifth-round selections to the Denver Broncos to get in position to draft Kaepernick.The announcement ends more than a week of speculation about the identity of the 49ers' starting quarterback.RELATED: Harbaugh's QB decision all about playoffs
There was no controversy just three weeks ago when the Rams came to Candlestick Park. After Smith's previous start, he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his 18-of-19 passing performance against the Arizona Cardinals.Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, was the third-ranked passer in the NFL this season with a career-best 104.0 rating, and the 49ers were 19-5-1 in the regular season since the beginning of the 2011 season.But Smith sustained a concussion in the second quarter against the Rams on Nov. 11, opening the door for Kaepernick, who performed reasonably well in the 24-24 tie against St. Louis.When Smith's concussion symptoms did not clear in time for the 49ers' next game, Kaepernick stepped in and put together a strong performance in the 49ers' 32-7 victory over the Chicago Bears.And a quarterback debate was launched.Harbaugh managed to add plenty of fuel to the controversy when he declined to name a starter last week, citing his belief it would help the 49ers gain a "competitive advantage."Kaepernick got his second start on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Afterward, Harbaugh said Kaepernick started only because Smith was not cleared officially to play until after the 49ers arrived in New Orleans on Saturday. Kaepernick ran for one touchdown and threw for another in the 49ers' 31-21 victory.On Monday, Harbaugh did nothing to clear things up."Alex Smith is our starting quarterback," Harbaugh said. "He has not done anything to lose that job. In fact, he's playing at a very high level. Also, Colin Kaepernick, you can't categorize him as a backup quarterback because he's started games, and played very well in those games."In the offseason, the 49ers signed Smith to a three-year, 24 million contract. He is the 20th-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. If he remains on the 49ers' roster after April 2013, his entire 7.5 base salary becomes guaranteed. If the 49ers cut Smith, the club would take only a 1 million cap hit in 2013.QB COMPARISON
Colin Kaepernick
Age: 25
Experience: Second season
2012 record as starter: 2-0
Attempts: 74
Completions: 48
Percentage: 64.9
Yards: 680
Yards per attempt: 9.2
Touchdowns: 3
Interceptions: 1
Passer rating: 102.3
Sacked: 6 times46 yards
Rushing: 31 for 214 (6.9 average), 4 TDsAlex Smith
Age: 28
Experience: Eighth season
2012 record as starter: 6-2-1
Attempts: 217
Completions: 152
Percentage: 70.0
Yards: 1731
Yards per attempt: 8.0
Touchdowns: 13
Interceptions: 5
Passer rating: 104.0
Sacked: 24 times137 yards
Rushing: 29 for 134 (4.6 average), 0 TDs

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.”