49ers key matchup No. 1: Goldson vs. Wilson


49ers key matchup No. 1: Goldson vs. Wilson

This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Seahawks matchups to watch Thursday, 5:20 p.m. (NFL NetworkKGO-TV, Ch. 7), at Candlestick Park.
Matchup 3 -- Patrick Willis vs. Marshawn LynchMatchup 2 -- 49ers coverage unit vs. Washington
49ers FS Dashon Goldson vs. Seahawks QB Russell WilsonTale of the tape
Goldson (38): 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, sixth season, Washington
Wilson (3): 5-foot-11, 206 pounds, rookie, WisconsinThe 49ers will be facing a rookie quarterback Thursday evening who has every reason to feel confident.Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes in the final eight minutes Sunday to pull off a 24-23 upset victory over the New England Patriots.The 49ers will try to confuse Wilson, and make the rookie look like, well, a rookie. But Wilson is certainly no typical youngster.He played three seasons at North Carolina State. Coach Tom O'Brien did not welcome him back for his senior season when Wilson decided to juggle football with baseball after signing with the Colorado Rockies as a fourth-round draft pick.Wisconsin was more than happy to accept Wilson to its program last season to replace Scott Tolzien, the 49ers' third-string quarterback the past two years.Wilson's one season with the Badgers was memorable. He broke Colt Brennan's (Hawaii, 2006) NCAA record for passing efficiency. In his career, he started 50 games and set another record with 379 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.Despite mixed NFL draft evaluations, due mostly to his under-6-foot height, Wilson decided to end his quest to become a major league second baseman after two rough seasons in the minors.Now, Wilson's sole focus is on being great on the football field. He said he studied a lot of quarterbacks through the years, including 49ers Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young, to attempt to figure out the dynamics of his position."If you look at the great quarterbacks in the National Football League and Hall of Fame quarterbacks, they have tremendous leadership and unbelievable attention to detail and the competitive nature is relentless," he said. "That's what I try to bring to Sundays and every day in practice."And in his first year, it's clear he is not in awe of his surroundings."I've been impressed with him," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "I think he'll be their quarterback for a long time and credit to them for seeing through his height and picking him."Said Tolzien, "It's funny, because everyone gave him a hard time in the draft process that he was too small. He's a confident, humble guy and a good leader."The Seahawks figured they got their starter of the future in free agency when they signed former Green Bay backup Matt Flynn to a three-year, 19.5 million contract.It ended up that they got their starter in the third round of the draft."We loved what Matt brought us and we needed to see if we could upgrade the position, and then we got to the draft and Russell was available, we saw the same thing there, too," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.The Seahawks' offense is geared around the running of Marshawn Lynch. But Wilson is adept at using play-action pass to get the ball deep. He has five touchdown passes on throws of 20 yards or more down the field.The 49ers own the No. 2 pass defense in the NFL. They did not give up a pass play for a touchdown of more than 10 yards in the first six games.Pro Bowl free safety Dashon Goldson will have tough duty Thursday. Goldson often lines up between 10 and 15 yards off the line of scrimmage. With Lynch providing a huge threat in the run game, Goldson will aggressively attack the line of scrimmage to instigate huge collisions with Lynch.But if Goldson bites too hard on run support, the 49ers' defense will be susceptible to big plays over the top. The Seahawks feature a deep receiving corps that features Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Braylon Edwards.Goldson is known for making big plays in the secondary. Over the past 52 games, Goldson has intercepted 12 passes and forced five fumbles and recovered three fumbles.The 49ers are 4-0 in games in which they've intercepted a pass this season. They're 0-2 when they have not picked off the opposing quarterback. Wilson is completing 62.5 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and six interceptions.

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)