Epic throw, catch keeps 49ers' season alive


Epic throw, catch keeps 49ers' season alive


SAN FRANCISCO -- During the week leading to the NFC divisional playoff, 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst had an idea.He presented it to 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, whose reaction was, "Yeah!"And when the 49ers needed their biggest play in a decade, that's what they called upon.Quarterback Alex Smith hit tight end Vernon Davis on a post-pattern in front of New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper for a 14-yard touchdown pass with :09 remaining to provide the winning points in a remarkable 36-32 victory at Candlestick Park on Saturday.The victory moves the 49ers into the NFC championship game for the first time since the 1997 season. The 49ers will either play at Green Bay or at home against the New York Giants.
Smith's performance in the final 4 minutes was monumental for the 49ers. He ran around the left side for a 28-yard touchdown to give the 49ers a 29-24 lead with 2:11 remaining.Then, when it appeared as if the Saints had won the game with Jimmy Graham's 66-yard touchdown reception from Drew Brees with 1:37 left, Smith led the 49ers 85 yards in seven plays.The 49ers went to a play that Chryst developed from his time as an assistant with the Carolina Panthers -- a team that faced the Saints twice a year in the NFC South."He knew there was a red-zone tendency that he felt really strongly about," Roman said. "And it really paid off. . . . It was very specific for the Saints."The epic nature of Smith's pass to Davis conjured memories of Dwight Clark's "The Catch," the play that led the 49ers to their first Super Bowl. It also had a striking resemblance to Terrell Owens' playoff touchdown catch from Steve Young against the Green Bay Packers."We live and we move on and we move on in spectacular fashion," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I know there was 'The Catch.' I don't know what you're going to call this one, 'The Throw and the Catch.'"Smith completed 24 of 42 passes for 299 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the most passing yards he's ever had in a victory. Davis caught seven passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. It was the most receiving yards by a tight end in NFL playoff history.

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

The 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension through the 2021 season, the team announced late Friday.

The deal is worth $35 million, including $16 million in guaranteed money, ESPN reported. The actual contract terms and amount of fully guaranteed money is expected to be less than the reported figures.

McDonald ranks third on the 49ers with 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. He has touchdown receptions this season of 75 and 65 yards.

"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”

McDonald is in the final season of his original four-year, $3.99 million contract he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2013.

In McDonald’s three previous seasons, he caught just 40 passes for 475 yards and three touchdowns.

McDonald spoke last week about the greater chances he's gotten to prove himself since the 49ers traded Vernon Davis last season.

“I just always look back at the opportunity when Vernon went to (Denver),” McDonald said. “Just being able to have the trust and the opportunity to start games and play every down.”

Said 49ers coach Chip Kelly, "He’s one of our weapons on the offensive side of the ball and he runs better than most tight ends in this league. So really depends on week to week what people have available at the safety spot to kind of match up with him. But he’s certainly someone that I think people defensively have to game plan for.”



Injury report: Staley's streak of 92 consecutive starts in serious jeopardy

Injury report: Staley's streak of 92 consecutive starts in serious jeopardy

Five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury, the 49ers announced on Friday.

Staley has the third-longest active streak among offensive tackles with 92 consecutive starts. Only Cleveland's Joe Thomas (156) and Oakland's Donald Penn (153) rank ahead of him on the list. Staley has not missed a game since the beginning of the 2011 season.

Coach Chip Kelly said Friday morning on his weekly show on KNBR that the 49ers have two more days of training “and then we’ll see what Joe’s status is going into the game on Sunday.”

Kelly added, “That’s kind of what we normally do with everybody. The best thing to say with Joe is he’s day-to-day. We’re hopeful, but we have two more days out on the field.”

With Staley not expected to play, the 49ers will likely shift left guard Zane Beadles to left tackle. Andrew Tiller, who started the first five games of the season at right guard, would likely start at left guard.

The 49ers expect outside linebacker Aaron Lynch to return to action on Sunday after missing five games with a high-ankle sprain, Kelly said on KNBR. Lynch is listed as questionable, along with defensive tackle Quinton Dial, who has a left elbow injury

The Jets will be without at least one starter. Right tackle Breno Giacomini was ruled out due to injuries. Brent Qvale, a third-year player from Nebraska, is scheduled to make his fifth NFL start.

Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.

T Joe Staley (hamstring)
DT Quinton Dial (elbow)
LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)

RB Khiry Robinson (lower leg)
DT Steve McLendon (hamstring)
T Breno Giacomini (back, calf, shoulder)
LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle)
S Antonio Allen (concussion)
WR Jalin Marshall (concussion)
DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)