Rams end 49ers' playoff hopes with 25-17 win

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Rams end 49ers' playoff hopes with 25-17 win

Dec. 26, 2010
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ST. LOUIS (AP) While Mike Singletary and Troy Smith squabbled on the sideline, rookie Sam Bradford stayed veteran calm.
NEWS: Source: Singletary will not return as head coach
The No. 1 overall draft pick helpedkeep the St. Louis Rams' playoff drive motoring along, also breakingPeyton Manning's NFL rookie record for completions in a 25-17 victoryover the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.Eclipsing Manning's 12-year-oldrecord was nice. Helping the Rams (7-8) stay on track to end afive-year playoff drought in a winner-take-all game for the NFC Westtitle next week is a much bigger deal. RELATED: NFL Standings
"I guess it's pretty cool," Bradfordsaid of the record. "I'm all fired up about the win. If you don't getexcited for a game like this, you're probably in the wrong business."The Rams' defense kept both of theSmiths on the run, sacking Troy Smith and Alex Smith two times apiece.Singletary gave Troy Smith one more series after a heated exchange latein the third quarter, then benched him after the 49ers (5-10) wentthree-and-out on their first possession of the fourth quarter.The 49ers were eliminated from playoff consideration, and haven't made it to the postseason since 2002."Troy's a passionate guy and the way he responded, that's fine," Singletary said. "He's frustrated, I'm frustrated."We're both trying to get something to happen on the field. That's all it was."The 49ers' locker room was closed forabout 20 minutes after the game before Singletary emerged, saying hehad no regrets about his quarterback choice. RELATED: 49ers notebook: In need of a QB, too
"As the head coach, the mostimportant quality for me is to be able to make a decision and be ableto live or die with it," Singletary said. "And not to turn around andblame it on somebody else."Singletary is 18-22 with two yearsto go on a four-year contract and wasn't sure if he'd be back, saying"I don't know, that's not my decision."The Rams finished 5-3 at home, thefranchise's first winning record since 2004. They were 2-22 combinedthe previous three seasons.The 49ers were 1-7 on the road,where they were outscored 200-117. They appeared to sag after missing achance to take a 17-15 lead late in the third quarter when Jeff Reedshanked a 34-yard field goal attempt.Troy Smith passed for 356 yards in the 49ers' overtime victory over the Rams last month, but did not play the last two games. REWIND: T. Smith, 49ers overcome penalties, Rams in OT
"I wouldn't say there was a lot ofdifferences, but you've got to give St. Louis credit," Smith said."Defensively, they do a lot of things to put the quarterback and teamin a not-so-comfortable situation."James Hall had 1 12 sacks for adefense that totaled four, including a safety in the first quarter whenTroy Smith fumbled a poor shotgun snap in the end zone. Troy Smith was2 for 3 for 85 yards on a second-quarter drive capped by a 60-yardtouchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, but was only 7 for 19 for 153 yardswhen Alex Smith replaced him midway through the fourth quarter.Bradford broke out of a three-gameslump of no touchdown passes and five interceptions. He was 16 for 20for 168 yards the second half, including a 3-yard pass to LaurentRobinson that made it 22-14 with 9:36 to go, and finished 28 for 37 for292 yards with no interceptions.The 49ers stuffed the run, limiting Steven Jackson to 48 yards on 24 carries.Bradford has 335 completions,topping Manning's record of 326 in 1998. He passed Chris Weinke forsecond in rookie attempts with 550, needing 26 in next week's finale toeclipse Manning.The Rams scored on their first drivefor only the second time, benefiting from an interference call on NateClements, with Jackson scoring from the 1 on the next play.Josh Brown kicked three field goalsfor St. Louis, giving him 11 the last three games, and has matched hiscareer season best with 31.The 49ers led 14-12 at the half even though they totaled three first downs and 82 yards in penalties.Ginn was untouched on the puntreturn for the 49ers' first score in the second quarter. San Franciscohad no return yards on 10 punts by Donnie Jones in the first meetingNov. 14 in San Francisco.St. Louis went up 9-0 late in thefirst quarter on the safety, but then went three-and-out on threestraight series while the 49ers caught their stride.Notes: On their opening possession,the Rams have scored two touchdowns and three field goals, along withseven punts, two lost fumbles, and a blocked field goal. ... 49ers CDavid Baas injured his left ribcage in the first quarter but returnedlate in the second quarter in time for the 49ers' lone touchdown drive.... Ginn returned two kickoffs for touchdown last year with Miami, andscored on a punt return for the Dolphins in 2007. ... 49ers backup CBPhillip Adams broke his left ankle blocking on the kickoff to open thesecond half. Adams was carted off.

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

The 49ers have graduated back to the phase of the offseason when offense-vs.-defense drills are allowed.

Because of the hiring of Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers were allowed an additional “voluntary” minicamp before the NFL draft. That meant the 49ers were permitted to skip from the two-week conditioning phase of the offseason straight to what is allowed under Phase III.

But after the three-day minicamp in late-April, the 49ers were forced to retreat back to Phase II, when on-field drills but could not include offense vs. defense.

Beginning Monday – and over the next three weeks -- the 49ers can get back to conducting the standard one-on-one, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 "non-contact" drills. The 49ers have the maximum number of 10 organized team activities scheduled. The official offseason program concludes with a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 13-15.

The real competition does not begin until the pads go on during training camp. but here’s a look at the team’s most notable offseason competitions (one position you will not find is quarterback, where the depth chart of Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard appears clearly set):

Running back: Carlos Hyde, entering the final year of his original four-year contract, has a lot of competition to hold onto his role as the featured back. He is coming off his most-productive season, finishing just 12 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark when he sustained a knee injury with one game remaining. Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner lobbied for Utah running back Joe Williams in the draft. They clearly see a fit for him within the system.

Pass-rush end: The 49ers’ pass rush was among the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. Arik Armstead will be given an opportunity to see if he can adapt to the “Leo” position. Aaron Lynch must earn the confidence of the coaching staff and front office. The 49ers added explosive, 243-pound pass Pita Taumoepenu in the sixth round.

Tight end: The 49ers confirmed Vance McDonald was available for a trade during the draft. After finding no takers, the 49ers brought back McDonald and he rejoins the competition among rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

Cornerback: Rashard Robinson is the obvious choice to start on one side. And assuming Jimmie Ward remains at free safety, the 49ers have no other player on the roster who has started a significant number of games at cornerback. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, will have a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job, as long as he displays a willingness to stick his nose into the action and play with the requisite level of physicality. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Will Redmond should also be in the mix to replace Tramaine Brock, who was released shortly after his arrest after an alleged domestic incident last month.

Center: Jeremy Zuttah, a Pro Bowl performer, was added in the offseason via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniel Kilgore has been the 49ers’ center the past three seasons but injuries have limited him to just 23 starts over that period of time. Zuttah has position flexibility. The 49ers could determine the best thing for the offensive line is to move Zuttah to one of the guard positions – to challenge Zane Beadles or Joshua Garnett -- if he is not clearly better than Kilgore.

Weakside linebacker: The 49ers signed veteran Malcolm Smith on the first day of free agency, providing him with $11.5 million of fully guaranteed money. The 49ers ranked Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster as the No. 3 overall prospect in the draft. They traded up to select him at No. 31 overall. Assuming Foster is ready to compete at the beginning of training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, it appears likely he would line up in that position and compete with Smith. The 49ers’ medical staff does not believe Foster will require any additional surgery, and Foster said he expects to be cleared for the opening of camp.

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spent last offseason working with Tom House and Adam Dedeaux on his throwing mechanics.

Ryan went on to set career-bests in completion percentage (69.9), yards passing (4,944), touchdowns (38), interceptions (7) and passer rating (117.1).

New 49ers quarterback Matt Barkley worked with House and Dedeaux for the fourth offseason in Southern California before reporting to Santa Clara for the team’s offseason program.

“Kyle (Shanhan) is on board with what House and those guys are doing – I think, really, because of the year Matt Ryan had,” Barkley said on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” on NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He’s a believer in that. He saw the benefits of what Matt did with some of his drops and the timing on routes, how he changed his feet on some things. So we’re kind of sticking with that plan. Everyone is a little different, but for the most part we’re all on the same page when it comes to what our drops are looking like, our footwork and how the ball is coming out.”

House is a former major league pitcher and pitching coach who founded the 3DQB training facility in Los Angeles. Dedeaux pitched at USC and is the grandson of USC baseball coaching legend Rod Dedeaux. Former NFL quarterback John Beck is a motion mechanics instructor.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer are among the NFL quarterbacks who have worked with 3DQB.

“I believe in those guys and what they’re doing,” Barkley said. “They’re at the top of their game, working with Brady and a bunch of other guys. They’ve helped me.

“He won’t change your throwing motion or really tweak how the ball comes out, but he’s going to try to maximize velocity and ground force production and torque -- a lot of sports science terms. But, really, just maximizing efficiency with your motion and making sure you’re sequencing is right.”

Barkley had never played for Shanahan before signing a two-year contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency. But there are two obvious connections. Barkley’s offensive coordinator last season with the Chicago Bears was Dowell Loggains, Shanahan’s quarterbacks coach in 2014 when Shanahan was the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator. The other connection is House.

"It’s kind of funny, he worked with Atlanta’s staff all of last year, helped Matt Ryan, kind of build his base from the ground up and helped him a lot and he had an MVP year," Barkley said of House.

"There may have been talks down the pipeline, who knows. I don’t think that was the deciding factor by any means, but it never hurts.”