Must win for 49ers against Rams?


Must win for 49ers against Rams?

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers can finish the job of winning the NFC West on Sunday against the lowly St. Louis Rams.But they will still have a lot of work to accomplish before the playoffs begin."There's a lot of football left, a lot of opportunities for us to get better," 49ers guard Adam Snyder said. "It would benefit us more to focus on that, rather than getting into the playoffs. I'm sure if we win, I'll celebrate a little. But you celebrate every win."There could be twice the reasons for 49ers running back Frank Gore to celebrate. He is just 22 yards away from surpassing Joe "The Jet" Perry on the official 49ers rushing list.RELATED: Gore on brink of franchise record
"The bigger picture is us winning the game and doing something we've haven't done in a while, and that's getting to the playoffs," Gore said."But I'd be happy if I do it this week. It would be a blessing. I would like to do it in front of the fans, who have been with us for a while and been behind us 100 percent. It would be a time to win and get the record. That would be great."In a lot of ways, this might be a must-win game for the 49ers because of the NFC playoff race. After all, the 49ers are currently in command of the No. 2 seed with a 9-2 record. The game against the Rams at Candlestick would appear to be their easiest remaining game. (The 49ers are 13-point favorites.)The 49ers finish the season at Arizona (Dec. 11), at home in a Monday night game against Pittsburgh (Dec. 19), and with road games at Seattle (Dec. 24) and St. Louis (Jan. 1).It seems unlikely the 49ers (9-2) can catch the Green Bay Packers (11-0) for the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. But the 49ers, essentially, have a two-game lead over the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys for the No. 2 spot, which includes a first-round bye and a home game in the divisional round of the playoffs.The 49ers own a one-game lead over the Saints (8-3), but the 49ers would win any tie-breaker based on a better record within the conference. The 49ers have a two-game lead over the Cowboys, but the Cowboys would win a tie-breaker based on their head-to-head overtime victory against the 49ers in Week 2.If the 49ers were to slip to the No. 3 slot in the playoffs, they would still get a home playoff game in the wild-card round. But if the 49ers win that game, they would be forced to play on the road in the divisional round.Today's key games
St. Louis at 49ers, 1:15 p.m.
Green Bay at N.Y. Giants, 1:15 p.m.
Dallas at Arizona, 1:15 p.m.
Detroit at New Orleans, 5:20 p.m. Here is a look at the complete NFC playoff picture (entering Sunday's games):Division leaders
1. Green Bay (North) 11-0. (NFC record: 9-0)
2. 49ers (West) 9-2. (NFC record: 7-1)
3. New Orleans (South) 8-3. (NFC record: 5-3)
4. Dallas (East) 7-4. (NFC record: 5-2)Wild card
5. Chicago (North) 7-4. (NFC record: 6-3)
6. Atlanta (South) 7-4. (NFC record: 5-4)
Next in line
7. Detroit (North) 7-4. (NFC record: 5-4)8. N.Y. Giants (East) 6-5. (NFC record: 3-5)
9. Seattle (West) 5-7. (NFC record: 4-4)
10. Washington (East) 4-7. (NFC record: 4-5)
11. Arizona (West) 4-7. (NFC record: 4-5)
12. Tampa Bay (South) 4-7. (NFC record: 3-5)
13. Philadelphia (East) 4-8. (NFC record: 4-6)
14. Carolina (South) 3-8. (NFC record: 1-7)
15. Minnesota (North) 2-9. (NFC record: 2-6)
16. St. Louis (West) 2-9. (NFC record: 1-8)Tie-breakers
Head-to-head, if applicable.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
Strength of victory.
Strength of schedule.

49ers announce more hires to Shanahan's staff

49ers announce more hires to Shanahan's staff

Kyle Shanahan put together some of the final pieces of his coaching staff on Tuesday.

The 49ers announced the hirings of seven coaches, including confirmation of John Benton as offensive line coach.

The team hired former NFL standout linebacker DeMeco Ryans as defensive quality control coach. He was a second-round selection of the Houston Texans in 2006 and spent 10 seasons in the league. He finished his career playing four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 49ers also hired Daniel Bullocks as assistant defensive backs coach, Stan Kwan as assistant special teams, Vince Oghobaase as assistant defensive line, Adam Stenavich as assistant offensive line, and Michael Clay as strength and conditioning assistant.

Benton, 53, was hired away from the Broncos after being on the job for approximately a month. Benton served as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach last season. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).

Benton and Shanahan worked together for four seasons with the Houston Texans.

Bullocks worked in the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Jaguars' linebackers coach last season, Robert Saleh, is the 49ers' new defensive coodinator. Bullocks appeared in 31 games in three NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and '08.

John Lynch: 49ers will be up-front with Kaepernick

John Lynch: 49ers will be up-front with Kaepernick

The only promises new 49ers general manager John Lynch made quarterback Colin Kaepernick for this offseason are open communication and honesty.

Kaepernick has spent all six of his NFL seasons with the 49ers after being a second-round draft pick in 2011. He has started 58 of the 49ers’ past 71 regular-season games.

Kaepernick has the contractual ability to opt out of his contract in March. If he does not, it seems likely the 49ers would release him – even if they want him back – to avoid being on the hook for his scheduled $14.9 million pay for the 2017 season.

“The one thing we will do very well with Kap is we’ll communicate,” Lynch said Tuesday on 95.7 The Game. “And I think that’s very important for both sides. Like everything else, that process is well in the works. We’ll continue to do that and we’ll be very up-front with him, in terms of what we’re thinking and we’ll want to know what he’s thinking, as well.”

Lynch said he developed trust and a good rapport with Kaepernick during the time when the 49ers were among the top teams in the NFL. Lynch was a broadcaster for FOX-TV and had occasion to meet with Kaepernick multiple times during production meetings.

“Every time we talk about Kap, I think of the guy who was in the Super Bowl not too (long ago),” Lynch said. “Things happen in guys’ careers. Injuries happen. Different things happen.”

Kaepernick began last season as the backup to Blaine Gabbert. After regaining his starting role in Week 6, Kaepernick put together his best season since 2013 – his first full season as a starter.

Kaepernick completed 59.2 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 90.7, and he added 468 yards rushing.

Lynch said he and coach Kyle Shanahan have been evaluating the players on the 49ers’ roster. The other three quarterbacks on the roster – Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis – are not under contract for next season.

“Like we said we would – and like we told Kap we would – we’re assessing everything,” Lynch said. “Both Kyle and I believe wholeheartedly that position is the most-important position in football.

“From every side of this thing, we’re evaluating. And we’re continuing to watch the film. We’ll continue to work toward that until we have made a decision.”