49ers focused on sustained success

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49ers focused on sustained success

If the early portion of this NFL offseason has proven anything to 49ers fans, it's that the organization is in it for the long haul.General manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh do not view the 2012 season as the team's one chance to win a Super Bowl.That's why the 49ers signed veteran receiver Randy Moss to a contract that, essentially, is a six-month tryout before the start of the regular season. If the 49ers decide any time between now and the final cuts that Moss does not fit with the team, they can move on without ever paying him a penny.
And it also explains the reasonable contracts to retain cornerback Carlos Rogers and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, as well as why the 49ers allowed Joshua Morgan to sign with the Washington Redskins and why they didn't pay big money to lure a receiver through the first three days of free agency.After all, Laurent Robinson secured a reported five-year, 32.5 million deal with 13.6 million guaranteed from the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will be his fourth NFL team in six seasons. That's the kind of market that the 49ers refused to enter when teams eagerly paid big money to fill holes.
"I think it's going to be: Who fits us? What are we looking for? What do we need?" CEO Jed York said this week of the 49ers' approach to free agency. "I have full confidence in Jim and Trent to go out and get that done."We want to build through the draft and supplement through free agency."Although the short-term satisfaction might be low, the fans ultimately benefit from this approach. On Thursday, the 49ers announced that all available 2012 season tickets have been sold.A release announcing the news stated: "Team officials say fans have seized the opportunity to buy tickets following a successful 2011 season, and those fans have apparently recognized a new benefit to holding ticket packages at Candlestick: They will be one of the first-in-line for seats at the new stadium in Santa Clara."The 49ers expect to play the 2014 season in the new stadium, and the 49ers want to make sure that the organization is in good shape when the 49ers move to the South Bay, as well as into the future.The organization is not mortgaging the future in hopes of breaking through in 2012. Thus far, the 49ers' approach to free agency has not been flashy -- though the addition of Moss was national news before the opening of full-fledged free agency.When the season ended, it seemed unrealistic that the 49ers would be able to retain Dashon Goldson, Brooks and Rogers to essentially keep their dominant defense of 2011 intact for another season. But chief negotiator Paraag Marathe made the pieces of the puzzle fit.
Through the first few days of free agency a year ago, fans and media seemed to get restless, waiting for high-profile additions to the roster. Eventually, the 49ers acquired such players as Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers and Jonathan Goodwin while welcoming back Goldson.
With fewer holes to fill this season, the 49ers are maintaining the same approach. And it worked pretty well a year ago.

49ers specialists get drenched in preparations for inclement weather

49ers specialists get drenched in preparations for inclement weather

CHICAGO – The 49ers trained for the expected low-30s temperature and snow at Soldier Field with a week of workouts in the 80-degree heat of Florida.

However, the team’s specialists got some practice handling wet footballs during the 49ers’ final practice in Orlando, Fla.

Special-teams coordinator Derius Swinton and his assistant, Michael Clay, made a game of it. Long-snapper Kyle Nelson had to execute 10 perfect snaps to holder Bradley Pinion for field goals. Then, Pinion moved back to punt formation, where another 10 in a row were required.

But they had to be perfect while Swinton and Clay squirted water on the ball and at the hands of Nelson and Pinion, who also received a blast of water in his ear hole at one point.

“We always look up to see if there’s a chance of rain or snow, and we go, ‘Wet-ball drill,’ ” Nelson said. “They (Swinton and Clay) get to have fun, squirting water on us and use the water bottles.

“They make it as bad as possible.”

Nelson and Pinion teamed up to execute perfectly on all 20 field goals and punts.

“If I can do this, in a game it’s going to be even easier,” Nelson said. “They make it a lot harder in practice than it is in a game, so when we get to a game, everything is not as fast.”

The weather conditions on Sunday against the Chicago Bears will likely challenge Nelson, Pinion and kicker Phil Dawson as much as anyone. Dawson has been tracking the weather forecasts for more than a week to get mentally prepared for what he might face.

“Soldier Field is notorious for being a tough place to kick because of the wind and the field itself,” Dawson said this week on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “The footing is pretty poor. So when you add snow and moisture to the equation, it’s going to be one of those days.

“You need to have conversations with your coaches and let them know – be honest with them – about the difficulty. But you have to do that without it affecting your confidence to go out and get the job done.”

Said Nelson, “It takes more focus in bad weather. The snaps have to be a little more perfect. Bradley has to focus more on catching the ball, and Phil has to concentrate on the approach and be more cautious.”

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."