49ers camp report (82): Focus on running game

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49ers camp report (82): Focus on running game

August 2, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Practice No. 4
Summary: Running back Frank Gore ended a holdout and returned to the practice field, and the 49ers shifted their attention to the run game. At one point, the 49ers had 20 consecutive run plays as part of their 11-on-11 work. Gore got a big share of the load, too. Coach Jim Harbaugh explained that the focus shifted more toward the ground game when the team was allowed to work in full pads. "Taking advantage of us having our armor on and thudding it up a bit, and you can hear it when it's good, you don't even really need to see the play, you can hear it," Harbaugh said.
RELATED: Gore takes care of business on the field
Offensive Plays of the day: Rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick and tight end Vernon Davis hooked up repeatedly on intermediate and deep passes. Davis exploited a mismatch against rookie Aldon Smith on a crossing route for a big play, and then he gave Smith an earful all the way back to the huddle.Defensive Plays of the day: Safety Reggie Smith appears to be solidifying his starting spot with a good showing in practices. He intercepted two passes, both on plays in which Kaepernick escaped the pocket. Defensive end Will Tukuafu had good pressure on Kaepernick, who tried to force a 25-yard pass into Davis. Reggie Smith jumped the route for the interception.Injury report: CB Shawntae Spencer (left hamstring) and LB Patrick Willis (foot) sat out the entire practice after leaving practice early Sunday evening. . . . LB Ahmad Brooks, WR Ronald Johnson, CB Phillip Adams (left hamstring) were removed from practice after sustaining slight injuries . . . . NT Isaac Sopoaga (hamstring) missed his fourth practice. LB Alex Joseph did not practice for the third day in a row. WR Michael Crabtree (left foot), WR Dominique Zeigler (left knee) and FB Bruce Miller (shoulder) are on physically-unable-to-perform list. . . . TE Nate Byham (torn left ACL), WR Dontavia Bogan (torn right ACL) and CB Curtis Holcomb (ruptured left Achilles tendon) are out for the season.The replacements: With all three starters on the defensive line unavailable for practice, the team's first unit consisted of Tukuafu at left end, Ian Williams at nose tackle and Ricky Jean Francois at right end. Starting defensive end Justin Smith was excused from practice for a personal reason.
RELATED: 49ers lining up free-agent visits
Eye on reps: Brooks has been working with the first team at left outside linebacker. With him out of action, Parys Haralson moved to the left side. That opened up the right side for Aldon Smith, the No. 7 overall pick in the draft.
High praise: Left tackle Joe Staley has his hands full against Aldon Smith every day in practice. "Aldon, man, he has impressed me," Staley said. "He's multi-dimensional as a pass-rusher. He has real long arms, is explosive and naturally strong. I can see why we drafted him where we did."On the sideline: Veteran center Jonathan Goodwin, who has started for the New Orleans Saints the past three seasons, paid a free-agent visit to the 49ers. He watched the team's entire practice from the sideline in street clothes.Next practice: The 49ers return to practice Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. for a scheduled three-hour practice. The club will also have an hourlong walk-through in the morning.

Rodgers, Packers headed to NFC championship after thriller with Cowboys

Rodgers, Packers headed to NFC championship after thriller with Cowboys

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Texas -- This time it was a catch, and another win for the Green Bay Packers.

Call it a "Half Mary" from Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers threw a 36-yard pass to a toe-dragging Jared Cook on the sideline, and Mason Crosby kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired, sending the Packers to the NFC championship game with their eighth straight win while thwarting a huge Dallas rally in a 34-31 victory in the divisional round of the playoffs Sunday.

The throw on the run from Rodgers to Cook on third-and-20 with 12 seconds left - confirmed on review - wasn't nearly as debatable as Dez Bryant's famous catch that wasn't in the Cowboys' divisional round loss to Green Bay (12-6) two years ago.

Cook, who led Green Bay with 104 yards receiving, kept both feet inbounds with a knee just above the ground out of bounds.

And it came after the Cowboys tied the game twice in the final 5 minutes behind rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in their playoff debut.

It was the third field goal of more than 50 yards in the final 1:33 - two from Crosby and one from Dallas' Dan Bailey. And Crosby had to make the winner twice after Dallas coach Jason Garrett called timeout before the first attempt.

Rodgers, who sparked last week's wild-card win over the New York Giants with another Hail Mary before halftime, is headed to an MVP showdown with Atlanta's Matt Ryan next Sunday. It will be his third NFC title game - all on the road.

"Unbelievable effort. I mean, what a game, what a game," said Rodgers, who threw for 356 yards with two touchdowns. "We're going to celebrate this and move on to Atlanta. We're just going to enjoy this right now."

Green Bay's win was the first by a road team after 12 straight home victories in the playoffs dating to last season. The Packers were the previous road team to win - over Washington in last season's wild-card round.

The Cowboys (13-4) almost became the third team in the Super Bowl era to win in the playoffs after trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter. The first was Dallas in 1972, when "Captain Comeback", Roger Staubach, rallied the Cowboys for a 30-28 win over San Francisco.

Instead, top-seeded Dallas ended up with its fifth straight loss in the divisional round and a 21-year drought in trips to the NFC championship game.

Prescott, whose 11-game winning streak during the regular season sent Tony Romo to the bench when he was ready to return from a back injury, rallied the Cowboys in a way that probably made Dallas' 10-year starter proud.

The fourth-round pick, who was supposed to be the No. 3 quarterback before injuries changed everything, got Dallas' rally going with a 40-yard touchdown toss in the first half to Bryant, the first playoff TD for the star receiver.

Then he set the stage for the first tying score on a 6-yarder to Jason Witten, also the first postseason touchdown for the 14th-year tight end.

Rodgers led the Packers to a go-ahead 56-yard field goal from Crosby with a big boost on a pass interference penalty against rookie Anthony Brown that wiped out an interception from Jeff Heath, whose pick earlier in the game helped Dallas rally.

The Cowboys answered with a 52-yarder from Bailey.

Prescott threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and Elliott had 125 yards rushing.

Rodgers didn't seem to miss receiver Jordy Nelson, out with a rib injury sustained in the win over the Giants.

Rodgers found six different receivers, including a 34-yard touchdown to Richard Rodgers that was his longest since catching one of three successful Hail Mary passes from Aaron Rodgers in the past 13 months.

SAY AGAIN?

The Cowboys had a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that doesn't happen often. Dallas had a first down wiped out by the penalty against receiver Brice Butler, who wasn't even part of the play. And that was actually the issue.

Referee Tony Corrente threw the flag immediately after the snap. After Terrance Williams made a catch the referee announced that Butler was penalized for going into the offensive huddle and then leaving the field.

There was even more confusion when the penalty was initially marked off only 5 yards. After Packers coach Mike McCarthy pointed it out, Corrente announced the correction and the ball was moved back another 10 yards. The Cowboys punted soon after.

UP NEXT

Packers: At Atlanta in the NFC championship game next Sunday.

Report: Jags interviewed Chip Kelly 'very quietly' before hiring Marrone

Report: Jags interviewed Chip Kelly 'very quietly' before hiring Marrone

The 49ers fired Chip Kelly on January 1. But it didn't take long for Kelly to get a job interview.

Between January 1 and January 9, when the Jaguars hired Doug Marrone, Jacksonville reportedly interviewed Kelly for the job.

The interview happened "very quietly" according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Jaguars had interviewed six known candidates: Marrone, Tom Coughlin, Harold Goodwin, Mike Smith, Kyle Shanahan and Josh McDaniels.

While the Jaguars hired Marrone and most other teams filled their head coaching vacancy, the 49ers are the lone team remaining without a head coach.

The leading candidates for the 49ers’ job appear to be McDaniels and Shanahan. The 49ers interviewed Shanahan and McDaniels on Friday and Saturday, respectively, as their teams earned first-round playoff byes.

The 49ers are also scheduled to interview Seattle offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable on Sunday.

Three days after he was fired by the 49ers, Kelly addressed his next possible career move with CSNBayArea.com.

“I’m not going to close the door on any opportunity, but I have to be very smart in what I do next,” he said. “I don’t have to take anything, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. I need to make sure that I’m in the right situation.

“I don’t know what the future holds. I’ll do my due diligence. I’m not going to coach just to coach.”