49ers feel good about their three QBs


49ers feel good about their three QBs

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Jim Harbaugh admits to some sleepless nights as his starting quarterback remains unsigned less than three weeks before the beginning of NFL's free-agent signing period."Yeah, Alex (Smith) is our guy," Harbaugh said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine. "He had a tremendous season. Definitely, as a coach you worry about a lot of things. And when a quarterback is not signed and he is a free agent that leads to some lost sleep."When -- not if -- the 49ers sign Smith to an extension, the organization will feel good about their quarterback depth chart, general manager Trent Baalke said. Behind Smith last season were rookies Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien.Baalke said he does not consider it a priority to strengthen the team's quarterback position this offseason."Is it a focus of need right now? No," Baalke said. "We're very comfortable with the younger guys and it remains to be seen what we'll be able to get done with Alex, but we feel very comfortable there as well."It's not something that Jim and I or anybody else in the organization are real stressed out about."A year ago, Harbaugh watched Kaepernick and Tolzien at the scouting combine. The 49ers traded up to select Kaepernick in the second round. He saw extended play time during the exhibition season. The 49ers added Tolzien, who went undrafted, off the waiver wire after the San Diego Chargers released him at the end of training camp.
Once the regular season began, Kaepernick attempted just five passes and Tolzien never suited up for a game. Harbaugh said he was pleased with the progress of the rookie quarterbacks behind the scenes."Both of those youngsters did as good a job or better as I've ever seen young quarterbacks approach the game," Harbaugh said. "Both of them were just sponges, in terms of picking up as much as they possibly can. That was the most impressive thing."(I) also liked the way they competed in practice, before practice, after practice and the way they physically played. They belong. And an offseason is going to benefit both of those youngsters very much."I've always felt that the most improvement you can make is from Year 1 to Year 2."When asked specifically about Kaepernick's progress, Baalke said the second-round pick was "wired" the right way. He said Kaepernick came to work early every day and stayed late. Kaepernick took snaps out of the "pistol" formation at Nevada, so learning how to work under center was an adjustment."It's important to him," Baalke said. "He really started to grasp being under center and taking snaps under center, the footwork that goes along with it, (and) the eye progression that goes along with the offense, which is much different than the offense that he came out of."

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich had a strong indication he would be fired as Oregon’s head coach. And he said he told Chip Kelly recently he would have no hard feelings if Kelly left the 49ers to return to coach the Ducks.

Kelly this week said he is not interested in abandoning his job with the 49ers to coach in the college ranks. Helfrich suggested during a radio interview on Friday that Kelly told him the same thing privately.

When it was suggested that Kelly hated to recruit, Helfrich did not disagree.

"That's a fact," Helfrich said in an interview on ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell. "I don't know hated recruiting. . . a dislike. A strong dislike. But I think Chip has that challenge in his mind right now to make it right in the NFL.

"I had some of those conversations with him a couple weeks ago when it looked like this was going south. That was a very awkward converation, but (I) just wanted to let him know that to take our personal relationship out of it in every way, shape or form if he wanted to consider this.

"But, me, reading between the lines, I think he wants to make it right in the NFL. I think he wants to win at that level. He's had a rough go of it this year, but he'll get it right."

Kelly compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons in Eugene, Ore. He left after the 2012 season to accept the head-coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly was fired late last season and took the 49ers job two weeks later.

In Kelly’s first season with the 49ers, the club is 1-10. The 49ers are on a franchise-long 10-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Helfrich was 37-16 in his four seasons at Oregon after his promotion from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kelly said he spoke with Helfrich the morning after he was fired.

“I just felt bad for Mark. I love him like a brother,” Kelly said. “He’s a tremendous person. He’s a hell of a football coach, but he’s an even better person. Just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It’s an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession. We all know about it when we sign up, but when it happens you’re still taken aback by it.”

Kelly said he hoped his denial of any interest in the Oregon job would end all speculation about his future. When asked if intends to remain with the 49ers, Kelly said on Wednesday, “Yep. So we're all done with that, I hope."

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Defensive lineman Quinton Dial, who sat out last week’s game with knee and neck issues, will return to action Sunday for the 49ers at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

Dial was not listed on the team’s injury report after going through two limited practices this week. The 49ers had only a walk-through Friday in Orlando, Fla., but Dial was cleared to return to full activity, the team announced.

Wide receiver Quinton Patton (concussion) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (ankle) were both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Patton appears to be on pace to be cleared in the NFL’s return-to-play concussion protocol. He has returned to non-contact football activity after sustaining a head injury last week against the Miami Dolphins.

Lynch has already missed four consecutive games with a high-ankle sprain. Lynch has appeared in only three games this season. He sat out the first four games of the year while serving a four-game suspension for violating the leageu’s policy of substances of abuse.

The Bears listed six players as questionable for the game, including outside linebackers Willie Young and rookie Leonard Floyd. Young leads Chicago with 6.5 sacks, while Floyd is second with five sacks.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. Matt Barkley will make his second career start.

LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)
WR Quinton Patton (concussion)

QB Jay Cutler (right shoulder)
LB Willie Young (knee)
S Adrian Amos (foot)
WR Eddie Royal (toe)
LB Leonard Floyd (concussion)
CB Deiondre' Hall (ankle)
G Josh Sitton (ankle)