Smith gets big plays in passing game


Smith gets big plays in passing game

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers have been ranked near the bottom of the NFL in passing yards all season. Big plays have been rare.But the 49ers had success through the air Sunday against the St. Louis Rams in their 26-0 NFC West-clinching victory at Candlestick Park.Quarterback Alex Smith had his two longest pass plays of the season and both went for touchdowns. And Smith made another perfect deep pass on a ball tight end Vernon Davis dropped in the end zone.
After settling for three David Akers field goals in the first half, the 49ers broke through early in the third quarter.Michael Crabtree used a stutter move against cornerback Justin King on a deep post and caught Smith's perfectly thrown pass for a 52-yard touchdown."I just had to go get the ball," said Crabtree, who is tied with Davis for the team-lead with 48 receptions. "Alex made a great throw and I ran up right under it."Second-year receiver Kyle Williams showed his 4.43 speed in the 40-yard dash early in the fourth quarter to provide another long touchdown.The Rams brought a six-man blitz, and Smith threw an 8-yard hitch to Williams, who cut inside of right cornerback Josh Gordy and outran everybody to the end zone for a 56-yard score."(I) certainly didn't expect him to house-call it, but he slipped inside, broke a tackle and that was it," Smith said.Smith had the best passer rating of his career (142.3), as he completed 17 of 23 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns. One of Smith's six incomplete passes could've easily been a 40-yard touchdown.Davis got several steps behind Rams safeties Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell, but he simply dropped the second-quarter pass in the end zone. Davis said he got "over-excited because I'd pretty much killed the guy and I was in the end zone.""I've never had that happen to me before," Davis said. "I know all the great ones in the past, T.O. (Terrell Owens), Jerry Rice, they dropped passes. But that's not something I want to do. I want to be better than that. You always want to be better than the best. So that's something I have to get fixed."

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.


49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

SANTA CLARA -- General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan sat down with 49ers pass-rusher Aaron Lynch shortly after assuming their new roles to give him an outline of what was expected.

Aaron Lynch entered the NFL in 2014 as a fifth-round draft pick despite having the talent worthy of a much-earlier selection. There were concerns about his commitment and character.

Lynch showed plenty of promise in his first two seasons. He tied for the club lead both seasons with six and 6.5 sacks, respectively. Last year, Lynch reported to the offseason program 30 pounds overweight. He was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy of substances of abuse. Then, he missed considerable time with an ankle injury. In seven games, Lynch recorded just 1.5 sacks.

John Lynch and Shanahan told Aaron Lynch his past transgressions would not be held against him, but he had to work hard and prove himself. As Lynch enters the final year of his original four-year contract, his spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster is anything but a certainty.

“Basically, everybody on this team, no matter what has happened before you came into the league or when you’ve been in the league, they’re not holding that against you and it’s a new clean slate,” Lynch said. “So I need to do everything I can to make sure I have a clean slate with them.”

Lynch is currently working with the second unit at the “Leo” position on the 49ers’ defensive line, behind Arik Armstead.

“’Leo’ is a lot of damn fun, so, yeah, I like it a lot,” Lynch said. “You get to set the edge and go get the quarterback.”

Lynch said he is in better physical condition than he was a year ago at this time. He said his target playing weight is in the 260-270 range. He said he is currently in the 280s.

“I came in heavy, but I’ve been working my (butt) off to get down to where my coach wants me to get down to, and where I feel I would be best to give everything I can for my team and do what I can for my team,” Lynch said.

While the 49ers did not witness any improvement in Lynch's commitment at the beginning of the offseason, things seem to be turning around. Shanahan said Lynch has missed only one day of the team's voluntary offseason program -- an excused absence to deal with a situation concerning his wife.

“There’s no doubt Aaron’s going in the right direction for us," Shanahan said. "He came in in the offseason, we challenged him hard with just the way we worked and stuff. He hasn’t shied away from any of it. He’s jumped in on all of our stuff.

"So he’s gotten better each day. He’s gotten more in shape each day and I’m seeing it on the field each day.”