Smith to Crabtree: Offense beats defense

792440.jpg

Smith to Crabtree: Offense beats defense

SANTA CLARA -- Near the end of the 49ers' 2 12-hour practice Wednesday, the starters on offense and defense lined up against each other for a last-play-of-the-game scenario.Quarterback Alex Smith last season hit tight end Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis on game-winning touchdowns in the closing seconds of victories against Detroit and New Orleans.MAIOCCO: Davis predicts Super Bowl, or does he?
This time, Smith's strike to Michael Crabtree was on the mark for a 10-yard touchdown between the coverage of cornerback Chris Culliver and safety Donte Whitner.This round went to the offense.The second-team offense was not as successful, as quarterback Colin Kaepernick's attempt to a well-covered Joe Hastings sailed out the back of the end zone.Here are some notes from Wednesday:--Linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were excused from practice. Willis returned home Tuesday on a personal matter, the team said. Bowman, an expectant father of twins, is with his girlfriend in the Washington area.
--Others who did not practice due to injuries: Receiver Ted Ginn, guard Joe Looney, and linebackers Joe Holland, Darius Fleming and Cam Johnson.MAIOCCO: Will full-time role impact Aldon Smith's stats?
--Safety Dashon Goldson remains unsigned as the 49ers' franchise player. And running back LaMichael James is finishing school at Oregon.--Cornerback Tramaine Brock had a solid day with a couple of interceptions, including a pick of a Kaepernick pass that sailed over Randy Moss' head at the left sideline. He also had an interception of Josh Johnson in a one-on-one drill.
--Undrafted rookie cornerback Anthony Mosley intercepted a Johnson pass intended for rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins.--Receiver Mario Manningham had an active day with at least three receptions during the 11-on-11 session.--Kyle Williams, Kendall Hunter, Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox got work as the deep men on kickoff returns. Brandon Jacobs and Will Tukuafu were among the players who were working as blockers on the return team.
--Undrafted rookie Nathan Palmer made a nice catch at the sideline of a low Johnson pass during a 7-on-7 red-zone drill. He also made a one-handed catch of a Johnson pass against the coverage of Whitner.--Quarterback Scott Tolzien got a lot of action for the second day in a row and threw the ball with accuracy while also appearing to show improved arm strength.--The 49ers' final practice of their mandatory three-day minicamp is Thursday.

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Michael Wilhoite has spent his whole five-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.

But now the free agent inside linebacker is reportedly switching sides in the NFC West rivalry. Wilhoite is set to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. 

Terms of the deal are unknown at this time. 

Wilhoite, 30, played in all 16 games last season for the 49ers, starting in only six. In 2016 he recorded 55 tackles, 30 less than 2015 in four less games, and forced one fumble. 

After earning a promotion from the 49ers' practice squad in 2012, Wilhoite's career in the Bay Area comes to an end with 268 tackles and three interceptions in 65 games. 

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.

In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.

The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."

Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.

"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.

Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.

"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."

As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.

The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."

"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.

McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.

During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.

"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."

Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."