Harbaugh: Gore not 100-percent healthy

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Harbaugh: Gore not 100-percent healthy

SANTA CLARA -- There were a lot of questions for coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday, the day after the 49ers' 21-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.Harbaugh was short on answers, but he disclosed running back Frank Gore is banged-up.Gore's health was the reason he carried just 10 times for 72 yards on Sunday. Gore has not missed a game, but he has played through two ankle sprains this season. Gore has been the workhorse for the team with 234 rushing attempts this season for 1,054 yards. He also has 16 receptions."He's got some things," Harbaugh said. "He's not 100 percent. And we have other backs who got carries in the second half."Gore and Kendall Hunter had just three rushing attempts apiece in the second half. Gore had two rushes after he scored on a 37-yard touchdown run to open the second half.Harbaugh said the club has talked about using third-string running back Anthony Dixon in short-yardage and red-zone situations. When asked why it hasn't materialized, he answered, "Well, it hasn't."And that began Harbaugh on a thought about dealing with all the questions that arise after a loss, such as the one the 49ers sustained on Sunday."Hey, look, we know there are going to be criticisms," he began. "We know there are going to be 'Whys?' What happened? What took place? Why didn't you do this? Why didn't you do that? Why didn't you throw the ball here? Who's your go-to guy? We're not going to talk about it. We're going to talk about it to our players, to our team. And make a real effort as always do, every single day, this is what we do. We try to address problems and get them fixed. (They're) smart guys. We got those as coaches. We got those as players. And we work together to get it fix."We'll take on those problems. These are strong men. They're strong-willed men. They're smart men. And you confront them head on."You've raised the expectations bar with the 10-2 start, so that's part of the deal, isn't it?
"That's part of the deal," Harbaugh said. "There's no question about it. Our team won the division. You're the hunted now. You're not the hunter, as much. You got a target on your back. They want to beat you. That's raised. Not saying it wasn't like that before but that expectation, that bar, is raised. We're in a position that we're in. We got three games left and we control our destiny, in terms of making the playoffs, positioning, momentum, the best it can possibly be for us."You talk about the game. It was well-competed. I thought our guy was ready. They had an excellent week of practice. They fought very hard in this game. Made opportunities for our team to win this game. Never comes down to one thing. Never comes down to one player, one play call, one example. You have to fight through and overcome."Yes, there are things we're going to turn in (officiating questions to the league office) and ask about. Things when you look at and think that really changed the course of the game."Larry Grant gets called for a personal foul, roughing the passer, when he was cut and got back up and hit the quarterback. It looked to be in the thigh. OK, you understand how that could be called. We had the same things happen to Alex (Smith). On the pass right before the fake field goal. Defender gets cut, he gets back up and lunges into Alex's knee, no flag. All those things lead to big swings. That would've been a first down, we still had the ball. Larry's penalty gives them a first down, which leads to a touchdown. But it's not one thing. It's not one play, it's not one turn of events. Not one player, not one coach." Left tackle Joe Staley sustained his apparent concussion on the 49ers' first play of the game when his head hit the knee of Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell on an attempted cut block.Staley got up and was clearly woozy. But he remained the game for another seven snaps until he was shaken up again.When asked why Staley did not come out of the game immediately, Harbaugh said the sideline did not know Staley had sustained a head injury."He didn't realize how hurt he was," Harbaugh said. "You don't always know as a football player, how dinged up you are. . . . (The) player has to show signs he's hurt for the doctors and trained professionals to see that. It's got to be communicated by the player, and sometimes you don't know."Staley was spotted in the locker room, and he appeared to be in good spirits. Staley did not conduct his weekly radio show on 95.7 The Game. Alex Boone, who took over at left tackle on Sunday, filled in on the radio, too.

Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

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Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

There is no shortage of blame to go around for the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse in Super Bowl 51.

The Falcons built a 28-3 lead in the middle of the third quarter and let it slip away, ultimately falling to the New England Patriots, 34-28, in overtime.

Matt Ryan voiced one previously undisclosed factor in the collapse this week in an interview with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, pointing the finger at the new coach of the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan has been the focus of a lot of the blame, but critique from the league MVP was a new one.

The Falcons quarterback faulted his former offensive coordinator for taking too much time to relay the play calls. Ryan said he did not have enough time to change any of the plays – presumably checking out of called pass plays to run the ball.

Here’s what Ryan told Prisco:

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in. As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

The 49ers can point to mismanagement of the clock for their own Super Bowl heartbreak. The 49ers’ offense had the perfect play call at the perfect time against the Baltimore Ravens late in Super Bowl XLVII.

But with the play clock striking :00, coach Jim Harbaugh was forced to call a timeout from the sideline. A split-second later, the ball was snapped and it appeared the quarterback run would have easily ended up with Colin Kaepernick in the end zone.

Much like after the 49ers’ loss, the Falcons left plenty of room for second-guessing.

Two of Shanahan’s plays calls, which directly led to the collapse, will forever be scrutinized.

The first came with 8:31 remaining in regulation and the Falcons holding a 28-12 lead. On third and 1 from the Atlanta 36, Shanahan did not remain conservative with an expected run play. He swung for the fence.

Receiver Aldrick Robinson, whom the 49ers added this offseason as a free-agent pickup, was breaking free past the Patriots secondary for what could have been a touchdown. But just as Ryan was unloading, New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower hit him and forced the fumble. Running back Devonta Freeman whiffed on blitz pickup, which would have provided Ryan with enough time to target Robinson deep.

Ryan’s explanation does not appear applicable on this play, though. In watching the replay, the Falcons broke the huddle with more than 25 seconds remaining on the play clock and the snap occurred with :15 to spare.

The other questionable sequence came after the Falcons – leading by eight points -- got to the New England 22-yard line with less than five minutes to play. The Falcons lost 1 yard on a run play on first down.

On second down, Ryan was sacked for a 12-yard loss. Before that play, the Falcons broke the huddle with :19 on the play clock. The snap occurred with :04 remaining. The game clock was running, so the Falcons had reason to attempt to burn as much clock as possible.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons never seemed rushed to get off a play. The closest they came to delay-of-game penalties were when they snapped the ball with :04 on the one play and :03 another time. The majority of their snaps occurred with :10 or more seconds to spare.

If the Falcons were guilty of anything when it came to the play clock, it was that the offense did not waste more time. After New England pulled to within 28-9 late in the third quarter, the Falcons ran only six offensive plays while the game clock was running.

On those six plays, the Falcons snapped the ball with :13, :09, :14, :20, :13 and :04 remaining on the play clock. If they’d snapped the ball with one second remaining each time, they could have shortened the game by 1 minute, 7 seconds. The Patriots scored the game-tying touchdown with :57 remaining in regulation.

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Until now, Kyle Shanahan’s hiring by the San Fracisco 49ers looked great because of his two-and-a-half predecessors – the last days of Jim Harbaugh, the misplaced concept of Jim Tomsula and the couldn’t-make-chicken-marsala-out-of-old-Kleenex problems surrounding Chip Kelly.

But now, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has told us all that Shanahan has a gift we in the Bay Area know all too well. Specifically, that Shanahan took too long to call plays to the Super Bowl the Falcons vomited up to the New England Patriots.

Now who does that remind you of, over and over again?

Yes, some things are evergreen, and too many options in this overly technological age seems to be one of them. Data in is helpful, but command going out is what bells the cow. Ryan said Shanahan was, well, almost Harbaugh-tastic in his timing.

“Kyle’s play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Bleacher Report. “As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, ‘There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.’ You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

“With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”

And the reason this matters is because the Atlanta Shanahan had multiple good options on every play. In San Francsco, at least in the short term, he’ll be dealing with minimal options. That could speed up his choices, as in “What the hell, we don’t have Julio Jones.” But it could also mean more delays, as in, “Okay, him . . . no, maybe not . . . no, he just screwed up that play last series . . . oh, damn it, time out!”

In short, it’s growing pains season here, children. On the field, on the sidelines, and maybe even in Kyle Shanahan’s head.