Feb. 21, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comCoach Jim Harbaugh expects competition for the 49ers' starting quarterback job in 2011. And whether Alex Smith will be part of that competition remains to be seen.When free agency begins (no sooner than March 4 and only after there's a new collective bargaining agreement), Smith will get his chance to consider his options in free agency and determine where to sign.Since Smith came to the 49ers as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, the 49ers entered training camp three times with a quarterback competition. The opening-day quarterback in those seasons were Tim Rattay (2005), J.T. O'Sullivan (2008) and Shaun Hill (2009).Here is a look at the 49ers' quarterback situation over the past six seasons:2005: Smith competed against veteran incumbent Tim Rattay. After a couple exhibition games, Rattay was declared the winner to open the regular season. After four games, then-coach Mike Nolan (and coordinator Mike McCarthy) decided it was best to have Smith learn on the job. Rattay was traded to Tampa Bay, and Smith started seven of the last 12 games. Smith missed five games with a knee injury.2006: Smith was anointed the starter before training camp with Norv Turner as the coordinator. Smith became the only quarterback in franchise history to play every offensive snap over a full season.2007: Smith was the unchallenged starter heading into the season with Jim Hostler as the coordinator. After a 2-1 start, Smith sustained a separated throwing shoulder on the first series of a game against Seattle and he missed the next two starts. He returned to start three games. He was injured and ineffective and opted for season-ending surgery.2008: Smith entered offseason in competition withShaun Hill with Mike Martz as coordinator. After a couple weeks of training camp, Hill was eliminated from the competition, and Smith competed with J.T. O'Sullivan. Smith never seemed to recover from his shoulder injury of the previous season, and O'Sullivan was named the starter after the third exhibition game. In the final exhibition game, Smith took a big hit to his shoulder against San Diego. A couple days before the season opener, Smith was discovered to have a fracture to his throwing shoulder that required surgery. He spent the season on injured reserve.2009: Smith and Hill waged a competition throughout the offseason and training camp with Jimmy Raye as coordinator. Smith attempted just 16 passes in the exhibition season, as a thumb injury kept him out of the final two games. Hill was named the starter after two exhibition games, and he started the first six games. Smith replaced Hill at halftime against Houston, and he threw 18 TD passes and 12 interceptions while playing every snap for the final 10 12 games.2010: Smith again was the unchallenged starter with Raye as coordinator after the 49ers signed veteranDavid Carr and traded away Hill in the offseason. The 49ers opened the season 1-5 with Smith at quarterback. (Mike Johnson replaced Raye as coordinator after three games.) Smith sustained a separated non-throwing shoulder in the seventh game. Troy Smith took over and started five games, including three games after Alex Smith was medically cleared to play. With Troy Smith struggled, Alex Smith started two games. But then-coach Mike Singletary benched Alex Smith again for the must-win game Dec. 26 against the St. Louis Rams. Alex Smith came off the bench in the second half to replace Troy Smith in a game the 49ers lost to knock them out of the NFC West race. When Jim Tomsula took over as interim coach after Singletary was fired, the 49ers started Alex Smith in the meaningless season finale.
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 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.”