York: 'There's a long way for us to go'

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York: 'There's a long way for us to go'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Team owner John York was among a group that included quarterback Alex Smith and tight end Vernon Davis who donned "49ers NFC West Championship" hats in the winning locker room.And several team employees were seen wearing T-shirts to celebrate the organization's return to the top of the division."It feels great," 49ers team presidentCEO Jed York said. "I don't know that it's sunk in for everybody, yet. But I (said to) the guys today, 'You know this isn't the last hat and T-shirt that I want.' There's a long way for us to go and there's a lot of work that we need to do if we want to get there."The last time there was this kind of interest to speak with York in the locker room following a game, he answered questions after the 49ers were officially eliminated from the playoff picture with one game remaining.York stood in the locker room after a loss to the St. Louis Rams. Just hours later, he would fire Mike Singletary as head coach. He would eventually hire Jim Harbaugh to a five-year, 25 million contract.York, who was a junior at Notre Dame the last time the 49ers won the NFC West, said he and Harbaugh did not discuss when he believed the 49ers would be able to turn the 6-10 team from a year ago into a playoff squad."When you start setting timelines and things like that, I don't believe that's a healthy relationship and a healthy form for success," York said. "What we wanted to do was to make sure that our general manager (Trent Baalke) and our head coach were on the same page and make sure that trickles down. I think that's where we are right now."But, again, there's a long way for us to go."One of the major offseason decisions was the club's willingness to bring back quarterback Alex Smith for a seventh season. Smith had his career-best passer rating of 142.3 on the day in which the 49ers clinched the division with a 10-2 record."When you have coach Harbaugh here and somebody believes in your quarterback, I support our coach," York said. "And he's been working with Alex like a coach should -- supporting his player and making sure he has every opportunity to be successful."York echoed the sentiment of several players, saying the division-clinching victory was not the end of the journey for this season's team."We won (with) a nice score today," York said. "There's still a lot of plays that we missed out there. There's still a lot of things that we need to do to get better, and that's what we have to instill in our guys."We haven't won anything, yet. We're two games behind the conference leader (Green Bay Packers) right now. There's a long way to go if you want to be the No. 1 seed. There are a lot of great teams in the NFC, and you have to keep your head down and keep working every day or else this doesn't mean anything."

Bills sign two former 49ers

Bills sign two former 49ers

The Buffalo Bills have signed two 49ers free agents within the past two days.

After signing wide receiver Rod Streater on Wednesday, the Bills announced the signing of linebacker Gerald Hodges on Thursday.

The 49ers acquired Hodges in a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick. Hodges started 12 games last season and ranked second on the team with 92 tackles.

Hodges left the 49ers shorthanded for a late-season game against the Atlanta Falcons when he violated team rules. Then-coach Chip Kelly did not disclose the nature of Hodges infraction. Hodges offered no explanation or apology.

The 49ers entered the game against the high-powered Falcons with just two healthy inside linebackers due to Hodges’ deactivation. Starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game, and the 49ers were forced to use safeties Antoine Bethea and Vinnie Sunseri, and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks at various points of the game.

The 49ers showed no interest in re-signing Hodges as a free agent.

Streater, a five-year NFL veteran, saw action in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in September. He caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

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.