49ers

Next step in Smith's mastering of offense: Limiting sacks ... really

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Next step in Smith's mastering of offense: Limiting sacks ... really

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers play the Denver Broncos on Sunday, which means San Francisco's offseason interest in Peyton Manning is sure to be dissected yet again.Whatever anyone believes regarding Jim Harbaugh's intentions with Manning, Smith says his relationship with his head coach is just fine."No awkwardness. I think anyone who's been around Coach Harbaugh for a while realizes, I think it's a great thing about him, he's going to tell you what he thinks. Good or bad," Smith said."He's going to give you his honest opinion and you appreciate that as someone who's been around a long time and been around coaches. You appreciate a guy telling you the truth and being honest with you even if it's not what you want to hear."Smith also appreciates Harbaugh's detailed coaching style and feels he is improved fundamentally because of it. As Smith enters his second year in the same system, the praise by his coaches and teammates this preseason is not over better footwork, but his mastery of the offense."(He) totally understands the offense now," said offensive coordinator Greg Roman emphatically. "He can recite things. He can fix things. Understands where people are. When you go back and look at our first early games last season, just getting through a straight progression was a work in progress relative to where it was late in the season relative to what it is now."He's getting through his reads quicker. He's eliminating reads earlier. Really just taking ownership of our offense. He understands all the different things that we do. He's really, really, really intelligent, bright football player. Really intelligent. He is super smart. Savant like at times."Dropping "really" four times to describe Smith's mental acumen may seem a bit much, but his teammates believe it's accurate."He's always learning. Always does a good job of just knowing completely everything," left tackle Joe Staley said. "He sits in our meeting sometimes and when we're going over our calls and stuff, just to get a better idea of what we're trying to do so he can be on the same page as us. His recall and his overall knowledge of the offense and what everyone is doing on every single play is amazing."Smith remains low key on his progress. His says his comfort level has allowed him to work at a quicker pace in training camp, and he has seen the benefits in the first two exhibition games. "We've ran the ball really well this preseason," Smith said. "Kept ourselves in better situations. We've been ahead of the chains. A lot of positive plays."The one area Roman would like to see Smith improve is his sack numbers. Opponents sacked Smith a league leading 44 times last season. Part of that was Smith taking what Roman called the "smart sack." In doing so, Smith threw a league-low five interceptions."The one thing that Alex did through all that, a historically great job of protecting the football," Roman said. Smith has yet to throw an interception this preseason though he was sacked twice in the two drives he led in the loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday.A point of emphasis is for the entire offense, from improved blocking to the receiver's gaining better separation, to reduce that sack number.Really, really, really, really reduce it.

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

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AP

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

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AP

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.