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.

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.”