Smith, Westbrook help 49ers beat Cards in finale

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Smith, Westbrook help 49ers beat Cards in finale

Jan. 2, 201149ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOBOX SCORE NFL SCOREBOARDSAN FRANCISCO (AP) In his likely last hurrah for San Francisco, Alex Smith made his case for a starting job elsewhere.Smith threw a 59-yard touchdown passto Vernon Davis in what likely was the quarterback's final game withthe 49ers, and San Francisco beat Arizona 38-7 on Sunday in a matchupfor last place in the awful NFC West.Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draftpick who becomes a free agent, passed for 276 yards and two TDs overalland the Niners (6-10) made interim coach Jim Tomsula a winner in whatwill probably be his only game coaching the team. Tomsula was promotedfrom his defensive line duties after Mike Singletary was firedfollowing a loss last week.Larry Fitzgerald had a 10-yard TDreception from John Skelton among his 11 catches for Arizona (5-11),which failed to win back-to-back games all year.Brian Westbrook had a pair of 6-yard TD runs in the third quarter for San Francisco.The game affected both teams' top-10 picks in April's draft - exact positioning still to be determined.The teams went 1-2 in the division ayear ago and had high hopes entering 2010, with the 49ers favored towin the West. Instead, they began 0-5 and couldn't produce thefranchise's first winning season since its last trip to the postseasonin 2002.Davis finished the year with seven TDreceptions, six fewer than a year ago when he tied Antonio Gates'record by a tight end with 13. Tarell Brown added a late 62-yardinterception return for a touchdown in San Francisco's second-highestscoring output of the season.Westbrook - clobbered on anaround-the-neck tackle by safety Adrian Wilson late in the first half -had his second big game of the year against the Cardinals. He ran for136 yards and a score in a 27-6 Monday night victory on Nov. 29 afterFrank Gore went down with a season-ending fractured right hip. OnSunday, Westbrook became the only active player and one of four overallwith 40 career rushing touchdowns and 30 TDs receiving.Smith hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a 37-yardtouchdown pass to the right corner of the end zone to put San Franciscoahead 7-0 late in the first quarter.Smith was sacked times in hisprevious start, a 34-7 loss at San Diego on Dec. 16. Singletary turnedback to Troy Smith in last Sunday's loss at St. Louis, then Tomsulanamed Alex Smith his starter for the season finale.Alex Smith completed his first sixpasses before throwing an incompletion late in the first quarter totackle Adam Snyder, who reported eligible.The Niners were 1-for-7 on thirddowns in the first half and Smith was sacked twice but San Franciscoput together a solid second half for a commanding victory - though notmany fans stuck around to see it. It was a dismal crowd at CandlestickPark on a cool, overcast afternoon after heavy rain fell over night.The 49ers won their fourth straightin the series despite Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt being determinedto finish strong and make a statement after the embarrassment on MondayNight Football in late November. Arizona managed only eight first downsin that game, getting 11 rushes for 13 yards.The 49ers are set to make changes.Club president Jed York plans to hire a general manager soon, then havethat person pick the new coach. San Francisco will surely make a run atStanford's Jim Harbaugh after his team plays in the Orange Bowl onMonday night.San Francisco's defense missedfour-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who sat out anddidn't start for the first time in his career. Willis underwent asecond surgical procedure on his broken right hand early last week.

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”