Harbaugh: QB spot will be earned

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Harbaugh: QB spot will be earned

SANTA CLARA -- The day after the 49ers' season came to an abrupt conclusion, coach Jim Harbaugh said he wants to keep things intact as much as possible for the 2012 season.
"It's a well-coached team, and a team that plays its hearts out," Harbaugh said on Monday, the day follwoing the 49ers' 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game."(I) want to keep the band together."But that will be easier said than done. The 49ers have 15 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency, a list that includes Pro Bowl defensive backs Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson, along with quarterback Alex Smith, outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, guard Adam Snyder, and receivers Ted Ginn and Joshua Morgan."If a player could just make significantly more money going to another team than we would be willing or able to pay them, I'd be happy for those players," Harbaugh said. "But we're going to compete for the guys that played 16 games, were consummate team guys. That's what I told them and that's what we'll do."The grass isn't always greener, and our players have built up a lot of equity here with me, with these coaches, with our organization. And they'll make the best decision for their families and themselves."Smith is expected to be back with the 49ers next season. But Harbaugh has remained consistent in his approach that every starting job must be earned. It would be no different next season, he said, as Colin Kaepernick will have an offseason and training camp to prove if he's capable of taking over.RELATED: Alex Smith: "I'd love to stay here"
"Everything is earned, everything is competed for," Harbaugh said. "And that was the beauty of Alex Smith and this past offseason. Many people have written how we told him the job was his. We never said that. We said that we'd get the best quarterbacks in here and throw out the balls. That's a position that's earned."It's never an anointed position. We've always been very exact in the way we said that. Not just the way we say it, the way we do it."The 49ers attempted to sign veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck last summer after the lockout lifted. Hasselbeck decided to sign with the Tennessee Titans. Then, Smith won a quarterback competition with Kaepernick, whom the 49ers traded up to select in the second round of the draft.

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Michael Wilhoite has spent his whole five-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.

But now the free agent inside linebacker is reportedly switching sides in the NFC West rivalry. Wilhoite is set to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. 

Terms of the deal are unknown at this time. 

Wilhoite, 30, played in all 16 games last season for the 49ers, starting in only six. In 2016 he recorded 55 tackles, 30 less than 2015 in four less games, and forced one fumble. 

After earning a promotion from the 49ers' practice squad in 2012, Wilhoite's career in the Bay Area comes to an end with 268 tackles and three interceptions in 65 games. 

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.

In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.

The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."

Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.

"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.

Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.

"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."

As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.

The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."

"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.

McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.

During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.

"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."

Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."