49ers Mailbag: Early morning edition

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49ers Mailbag: Early morning edition

Programming note: Log on today at 1 p.m. when we live stream today's 49ers press conference featuring head coach Jim Harbaugh, TE Delanie Walker and safety Dashon Goldson, live from Santa Clara.

I'm up for a couple hours early this morning to watch some live Olympics basketball action. So I figured it is a perfect opportunity to do a little multi-tasking.So every 30 minutes or so before I go back to bed, I'll answer a question from the 49ers Mailbag . . . Q: I personally think @pcox16 is better then @RealTB25, do u see Cox moving up to the number 2 spot eventually? (@thirddarchie)
The best cornerback in training camp through seven practices has been Tarell Brown. Veteran Carlos Rogers has also performed well. Those two are the starters. And Chris Culliver appears to be solid as the third cornerback.So, now, we're talking about the fourth cornerback. Although Tramaine Brock is ahead of Cox on the current depth chart at cornerback, Cox is ahead of Brock at the nickel back position.Cox's versatility is his strength. He can play outside, inside and he can also return punts. Brock began last season as the third corner and he intercepted passes in the 49ers' first two games. But when Brock missed several weeks after hand surgery, Culliver took advantage of the opening to take over for the rest of the season.Rogers still has several seasons ahead of him as the starter. Brown is a solid player whose best seasons are ahead of him. Culliver figures to be a starter at some point, too.So, unless there are injuries, it's difficult to see Cox becoming a starter any time in the near future with the 49ers. UPDATED: 1:40 a.m.
Q: In your opinion, whos pulling away with the second string QB position? (@mattyb0y)
That's easy: Nobody.Colin Kaepernick entered camp as the No. 2 quarterback, and I believe he'll replace Smith at some point early in Friday's exhibition opener against the Minnesota Vikings.Up to this point, though, he is certainly not pulling away from reserves Josh Johnson or Scott Tolzien.During practices, Kaepernick has seemingly been reluctant to throw the ball. His accuracy has been inconsistent. And he has seemed much more comfortable running with the football.My feeling is that Kaepernick is one of those players who will be a lot more effective in games when he'll be able to make some big plays with his legs. He is still in position to win the backup job because neither Johnson nor Tolzien has taken control, either. UPDATED: 2:05 a.m.Q: Is TO's try out with the seahawks a sign of desperation on their part at wide receiver (@ sbpatt)
Over the weekend, the Seahawks released former 49ers player Antonio Bryant. Last week, the club signed former 49ers receiver Braylon Edwards.Their other notable receivers in camp are:Doug Baldwin
Golden Tate
Sidney Rice
Deon Butler
Kris Durham
Ben ObomanuThings certainly got a lot more interesting when the Seahawks confirmed they will bring in former 49ers receiver Terrell Owens, 38, for a workout.Like Randy Moss, he did not play last season. But, unlike Moss, who retired for a year, Owens was unable to play last season after tearing his ACL. But, unlike Moss, the last time Owens played, he was productive. He caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine TDs with the Cincinnati Bengals.Seeing Owens face the 49ers twice a year in the NFC West would be a great storyline. However, the bigger concern for the Seahawks is finding a quarterback to emerge from a three-way competition that involves Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson.
UPDATED: 2:40 a.m.Q: What position are you most interested in watching in preseason games? (@chilifritos)
This is a good question to end on because I can touch on a few hot topics.
The one player I'm most curious to watch is LaMichael James. I'm very interested to see how his style translates to the NFL. I don't expect the 49ers to disclose any specialty packages for James -- that'll have to wait until the regular season. But I want to see how his quickness looks at this level.
James will be fighting for a regular role, along with every running back behind Frank Gore. Kendall Hunter will be on the team? But will he lose all his playing time to James? I think the 49ers have to find a way to get the ball into James' hands at least a half-dozen times a game.
James has also been getting a lot of work to hone his skills catching punts. Ted Ginn still has to be the team's primary return man, but James will have a chance to show if he can be a reliable option, too.Running back as a whole has good competition. Through seven practices, Brandon Jacobs looks to be in good shape for, not only a roster spot, but a significant backup role. Anthony Dixon has not gotten much action at fullback, which is not a surprise. That's not his style. He has been keeping his pad level down when he's running, and that's a good sign. But it'll be difficult for him to make this team after being a seldom-used No. 3 back last season.
Wide receiver is another position of interest.I believe Michael Crabtree is still the team's best receiver. He has yet to practice since the opening day due to a right leg injury. It remains to be seen whether Crabtree will be on the field Friday for the first time with the 49ers in the exhibition season.Veteran Randy Moss does not figure to see much action in the exhibition season. But the rest of the receiving corps should provide some interesting viewing.I expect the 49ers to keep six receivers -- Crabtree, Moss, Mario Manningham, Ginn, Kyle Williams and A.J. Jenkins -- on the 53-man roster.Nathan Palmer has been the most impressive undrafted rookie in camp -- and one of the more impressive rookies, period. It would not surprise me if the 49ers try to hide him during the exhibition games so they can bring him back to the practice squad. Chris Owusu is in a similar position. At a crowded receiver position, the undrafted rookies appear to be battling for spots on the eight-player practice squad.
OK, former Saint Mary's basketball player Patty Mills just hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lead the Aussie Boomers to an 82-80 victory over previously unbeaten Russia. And I'm going back to bed.The 49ers return to the practice field from 10:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday.If you have more questions, I'll answer them in the comments section below a little later.

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.”