Vikings take it to 49ers in Moss' homecoming


Vikings take it to 49ers in Moss' homecoming


MINNEAPOLIS -- When receiver Randy Moss' name was announced Sunday as part of the 49ers' starting lineup, it elicited a huge reaction from the Minnesota fans.Moss was showered mostly with cheers.That was the highlight of Moss' day, as the 49ers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 24-13 loss at the Metrodome."I want to thank the fans for the love," Moss said. "I really appreciate the love that they give."Moss, whose career began with seven seasons with the Vikings, had some opportunities to elicit more reaction from the fans in his first game in the dome as a visiting player.But quarterback Alex Smith misfired on a couple of throws, including one that could've resulted in an 18-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Smith's first attempt to Moss was a high throw that skipped through his hands."Those two plays early to Randy, he and I got to connect," Smith said. "I got to throw a better ball on both of those occasions because those are key plays. When I let both of them go, it felt good. I just didn't connect. They both came out high."He stayed positive the whole game. I got to hit those. Those opportunities don't happen often. You don't know how many you're going to get, especially in a game like this. You're just kicking yourself for not hitting that."Smith targeted six throws toward Moss, who played approximately 20 of the 49ers' 58 offensive plays. Moss finished with three catches for 27 yards. When asked about his play time afterward, Moss answered, "Next question."After convincing wins against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions -- two NFC North teams that made the playoffs a year ago -- the 49ers came crashing down with a loss to the Vikings, who finished 3-13 last season."I know the Vikings have always play teams tough, especially when they're an underdog," Moss said. "That's one thing that's Minnesota football. So we just going back at it and have practice this week and the Jets coming back. So we'll go ahead and watch the film and correct our mistakes."The 49ers (2-1) departed Minnesota on Sunday afternoon for a continuation of a 10-day road trip. The 49ers will practice this week in Youngstown, Ohio, before traveling to New Jersey to take on the New York Jets next week.The 49ers made plenty of mistakes in all phases of the game to begin this road trip on a sour note.Vikings second-year quarterback Christian Ponder sliced up the 49ers' defense on the opening drive, and converted a fourth-and-goal pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph to give Minnesota an early lead. The Vikings never trailed.Smith's streak of consecutive pass attempts without an interception ended at 249 attempts when cornerback Josh Robinson picked him off late in the game. The 49ers committed three turnovers in the game, and scored just one touchdown on three trips into the red zone.And when the Vikings made mistakes in the fourth quarter, the 49ers could not take advantage. Safety Donte Whitner dropped a potential touchdown opportunity midway through the fourth quarter when he could not hold onto an easy interception."I dropped it. It was just a drop on my part, a play that I have to make," Whitner said. "That play right there could've changed the whole momentum of the football game."The 49ers did an acceptable job on running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed 25 times for 86 yards (3.4 average). But the Vikings converted 7 of 14 third-down opportunities.Offensively, the 49ers tried to rely on their passing attack. Smith completed 24 of 35 pass attempts for 204 yards with one touchdown -- a 1-yard toss to tight end Vernon Davis -- and one interception.Running back Frank Gore had 63 yards on just 12 rushing attempts. When asked why the 49ers get Gore more touches through the course of the game, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh responded, "I don't have an answer for you."The 49ers scored a touchdown on just one of their three trips inside the red zone. David Akers kicked two field goals, and another was blocked when Leonard Davis allowed penetration over left guard."The Vikings did a better job than we did all the way around," Harbaugh said. "We didn't get it done. There are a lot of reasons for that."There's going to be good. There's going to be bad. Today was a bad day, and we can't sulk abut it, can't complain, point fingers. You just have to suck it up. And I know we'll do that."

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

In Kyle Shanahan’s first breath after being introduced as 49ers head coach on Feb. 9, he mentioned Jim Harbaugh, along with Bill Walsh, George Seifert and Steve Mariucci.

The head coach of Michigan was listening, and he appreciated the gesture.

“It was very flattering that he said nice things about us at his news conference, and I appreciated that,” Harbaugh said on "The TK Show," a podcast from Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.

“Now, I don’t think I was there long enough to be compared with Bill Walsh or Coach Seifert, etc. But I think did – and correct me if I’m wrong – I think we did set a record for coaching there the longest under the present ownership, if I’m not wrong.”

That is correct.

Since John and Denise York took over control of the 49ers in 2000 from Denise’s brother, Eddie DeBartolo, the 49ers have employed eight head coaches. Mike Nolan was fired after seven games of his fourth season. The two coaches who followed Harbaugh -- Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly -- were fired after 5-11 and 2-14 seasons, respectively.

Harbaugh’s teams advanced to the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance. He and the 49ers “mutually parted ways,” the club announced, immediately after the team finished with an 8-8 record in 2014.

“I take pride in that,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe there should be an endurance medal, a courage medal, for that.”

Shanahan mentioned Harbaugh during his opening remarks at the introductory press conference earlier this month:

“I’ve got to start out thanking Jed and the whole York family. Giving me this opportunity is, it’s a dream come true and it’s not just an opportunity to be a head coach, but to be a head coach at a place like this where you talk about Bill Walsh, you talk about George Seifert, Steve Mariucci, Jim Harbaugh and you can go down the line with the coaches.”

Said Harbaugh, “Just appreciated it. Appreciated it, and not just for me personally, but appreciated that for all the wonderful players we had and the wonderful coaches and the effort that was put in. People poured their hearts and souls into those years. It’s just appreciated that Kyle would make that comment.”

Harbaugh said he has deep respect for Shanahan and new 49ers general manager John Lynch, whom Harbaugh asked to speak to his Stanford teams during his four-year tenure as head coach.

“Yeah, I would’ve loved to have worked for John Lynch,” Harbaugh said. “He reminds me a lot of the athletic director we have here Warde Manuel, who’s also a former player and a teammate of mine. Common sense guys who are team guys, just the way they go about their business always speaks volumes.

“I thought John took note when they were going through the process. e didn’t want his name mentioned and I think that’s . . . I don’t know if a lot of people noticed that, but I think that’s a profound thing. I think that speaks volumes for who he is as a person. He wants to do a good job and it’s for the right reasons. He’s a competitor at the highest level, so I have great respect for that.”

Kawakami also asked Harbaugh about whether he believes quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still capable of being an NFL starter.

“There’s no doubt he can be an NFL starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said.

“I’m sure Kyle, the coaching staff there and John will meet on it, they’ll think about it, they’ll watch, much like we did when we got in there in 2011. And they’ll make the best decision they can for the team and the organization and it’ll play out the way it’s going to play out.”

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

During the month the 49ers had no general manager or head coach, Tom Gamble was the next-highest-ranking football official and was charge of the personnel department on an interim basis.

But CEO Jed York made it clear from the beginning Gamble, whom Trent Baalke promoted to assistant general manager just prior to the start of training camp last summer, would not be considered for a promotion to general manager.

John Lynch, with no front-office experience, was hired over Arizona’s Terry McDonough and Minnesota’s George Paton. Before Lynch’s introductory press conference, he hired two top lieutenants in the personnel department to usurp Gamble on the organization's power structure.

On Wednesday, the 49ers announced what had become inevitable: Gamble was leaving the organization.

“I must thank Jed, the York family and the entire 49ers organization for the wonderful memories they provided me and my family, but it is time I move on,” Gamble said in a statement. “This past month, I have had the pleasure of working alongside John Lynch and the talented staff he has assembled. The team is in capable hands and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Lynch’s first move as general manager was to hire Adam Peters away from the Denver Broncos to serve as 49ers vice president of player personnel.

Lynch worked alongside Peters when Lynch took part in Broncos meetings and prospect evaluations, which included a trip to the NFL scouting combine, prior to the 2013 draft.

“That month, month-and-a-half, I actually sat next to Adam every day,” Lynch told “Those are long meetings. I’d listen to him and we’d talk in between about players. I just saw way back then, he’s a guy who’s highly respected in the league. I firmly believe in two, three years, he would’ve been a GM. He was on that track, at least.”

During Lynch’s introductory press conference a week later, he announced the hiring of Martin Mayhew as senior personnel executive. Lynch and Mayhew were teammates in the secondary for Lynch’s first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mayhew spent seven seasons as Detroit Lions general manager. Mayhew should be able to provide Lynch with valuable counsel as learns on the job after spending the past eight seasons as a TV analyst on FOX.

“Martin has sat in the seat as a general manager and his experience will play an integral role in helping us locate the type of football player we want representing this organization both on the field and in the community,” Lynch said.

Gamble recently completed his 29th NFL season and his 10th with the 49ers in two stints. After he was fired as Philadelphia Eagles vice president of personnel late in the 2014 season, and came back to the 49ers in the 2015 offseason.

While with the Eagles, Gamble was one of the few individuals in the front office who worked well with Chip Kelly. Gamble played an important role in speaking up for Kelly and bringing him to the 49ers last offseason.

Kelly and Baalke were fired after the 49ers' 2-14 season, and the 49ers promoted the ability to create a fresh start when a new coach and general manager. While the 49ers were expecting Gamble to remain with the organization through the draft, his spot with the organization was going to be tenuous with a new regime.

“He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him,” Lynch said in a statement. “After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities.”