Monday Morning Mailbag: 49ers loss raises questions

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Monday Morning Mailbag: 49ers loss raises questions

The 49ers' discouraging overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday certainly opened the door for a lot of questions.So let's open the 49ers Mailbag to address some of the issues that most concerned followers on Twitter:We saw Kaep still has some growing pains to do. What areas do you see need the most work? (@MattReustle)
The Rams did a good job of putting pressure on him by sending extra pass rushers. The Rams got pressure on Kaepernick and did not give him time to throw. Thus, they took away the deep throws that Kaepernick does so well.Kaepernick needs to improve with his touch on his underneath throws. Also, there was the issue of decision-making. The game-changing turnover was a bad play call, no doubt. But Kaepernick admittedly should not have attempted the pitch to Ted Ginn. But even then, that pitch is something he has executed hundreds of times as a quarterback running the pistol offense at Nevada.He also has to learn the game management portion of the job. His decision to run out of bounds before David Akers' go-ahead field goal with 1:34 remaining was a costly mistake. It stopped the clock. The Rams did not have to use a timeout, and they ended up getting the necessary yardage for the tying field goal at the end of regulation.MAIOCCO: 49ers miscues lead to overtime loss to Rams
At this point why not give James and Jenkins a shot? (@DTNCA)
It is perplexing.I completely understand that first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins is not better than Michael Crabtree. I completely understand how he might not be better than Mario Manningham or Randy Moss.What I do not understand is how Jenkins can't get on the field ahead of Ted Ginn when the 49ers go with three wideouts. Obviously, the 49ers believe Ginn is a better receiver than Jenkins. And that's a problem.
Jenkins worked in the offseason to increase his strength. Apparently, he is still not ready. It's inexcusable that they have a first-round draft pick who is healthy but he is not even a factor. Even when Manningham went down in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury, Jenkins did not play.As for James, the 49ers believe he is not ready, either. He does not have the full knowledge of the system, especially in blitz pickup. Nor is he strong enough to make a living running between the tackles.But James comes from the Oregon spread, and he's very familiar with those zone-read plays. It seems he could get on the field for five snaps a game as the zone-read running back. He and Kaepernick showed in the exhibition season that they can work well together. Yes, it would be predictable, but the combination of Kaepernick and James would put a great deal of pressure on the defense. And it could pick up the slack for an element that the 49ers are missing now that Kendall Hunter is out for the season.
Is Frank Gore hurt? Did Gore get tired without Hunter there? (@neekoh)
Gore is not injured, but he does take a pounding because he runs so hard. There is no doubt the 49ers lost a great deal with Hunter's absence. Brandon Jacobs takes over as Gore's backup.Three weeks ago in the overtime game against the Rams, Hunter played 11 of the 49ers' 66 snaps (17 percent). On Sunday, Jacobs played eight of 76 snaps (11 percent).Jacobs had just 6 yards rushing on four carries. Gore had 58 yards on 23 attempts. The Rams made it extremely difficult on the 49ers' run game. They stacked the box, and the Rams completely out-schemed the 49ers by outnumbering them at the line of scrimmage.The Rams had a very good game plan against Kaepernick and the 49ers. Expect the upcoming teams on the 49ers' schedule to follow the same blueprint.Is Akers' job safe? (@AlskidJudy)
No.The 49ers have asked the question internally, "Are better options available?" And that's where it gets a little tricky.Last week, the 49ers brought in veterans Nate Kaeding and Billy Cundiff for tryouts. Kaeding is the most accurate kicker in league history. But the 49ers are hesitant to make any move with Kaeding and Cundiff because both kickers have backgrounds that include poor playoff performances. QB uncertainty, loss of Hunter & Williams limiting "O" play-calling and lack of clutch kicker. Do you foresee missing playoffs? (@MonteleoneJohn)
No.At 8-3-1, the 49ers are an overwhelming favorite to win a spot in the NFC playoffs. And with a 1 12-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers are still the team most likely to win the West.But there are two very difficult road games remaining in the regular season. The 49ers travel to New England and Seattle, and those are games the 49ers can easily lose. The other two games -- at Candlestick against Miami and Arizona -- should be victories.If you're a 49ers fan, there's no need to panic. But you'd be well within your rights to be a little concerned at this point.

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”