Kaepernick has chance to make case as the 'hot hand'


Kaepernick has chance to make case as the 'hot hand'

Programming note: After the final gun at tonight's Bears-49ers game at Candlestick Park, change the channel to 49ers Postgame Live for analysis and interviews, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

So this is why the 49ers traded up in the second round to select ultra-intriguing quarterback Colin Kaepernick.His time has come as the team's starting quarterback.And it has come for Kaepernick without a full week of first-team practice repetitions to prepare for a game against the No. 5 defense in the league.And it's a game that could ultimately determine whether the 49ers get a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. The 49ers are 6-2-1, while the Chicago Bears are 7-2.The 49ers have not announced Alex Smith is out of Monday night's game against the Bears, but one source confirmed the ESPN report that Alex Smith did not receive final clearance to return to action after sustaining a concussion Nov. 11 against the St. Louis Rams.RELATED: Report -- Alex Smith not cleared to play vs. Bears
Smith returned to practice Wednesday and handled about the same number of practice snaps that he would on a normal week, according to 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and others.This game could have huge implications on the future of the franchise. Coach Jim Harbaugh believes in sticking with the "hot hand." And for most of this season, that hand has belonged to Smith.With Smith starting and finishing games, the 49ers are 20-6 since the beginning of last season, including a 1-1 record in the playoffs.Smith, 28, is having his best NFL season with a passer rating of 104.1, which ranks third behind Aaron Rodgers (107.3) and Peyton Manning (106.2).RELATED: Alex Smith career stats 2012 game logs Splits
Surprisingly, Smith is also third in the NFL in average per pass attempt at 7.97 yards. That also ranks third in the NFL behind Manning (8.0) and Cam Newton (7.98). Smith has improved nearly a full yard per attempt from a year ago.But where Smith ranks at the bottom of the league is yards passing. His 1,731 yards is No. 29 in the NFL, and 217 pass attempts is 31st among all quarterbacks.Kaepernick, 25, has made no secret of his mindset that he wants to be the starter. On Monday, he will apparently get his chance to prove he is a better option for the 49ers than Smith.RELATED: Colin Kaepernick career stats 2012 game logs
Kaepernick saw his most extensive NFL playing time last week against the St. Louis Rams. He entered in the second quarter with the 49ers trailing 14-7. Kaepernick overcame a slow start to complete 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards. He rushed for 66 yards on eight carries -- five of which came on scrambles."There were just a couple reads I wish I could have back, opportunities for big plays," Kaepernick said.Said Roman, "There's definitely some plays in there that he could have played better on. He knows it. There's some really good plays that he made, off the cuff, that you can't coach. He did a good job. I thought he was very poised. He was very prepared mentally, physically and emotionally."If Smith had remained healthy and kept performing at the same level, Kaepernick would not have received the opportunity he is expected to get Monday night.But at some point before his initial contract expired, Kaepernick would have been given an extended look. Kaepernick and Smith are both signed to the 49ers through the 2014 season.Now, that look comes under the stress of a game that could be viewed as a playoff-simulator as the 49ers and Bears jockey for position in the postseason.
Smith signed a three-year, 24 million contract with the 49ers in the offseason. The structure of the contract makes is easy for the 49ers to make a quarterback switch without taking much of a financial hit.Smith's second-year base salary of 7.5 million is fully guaranteed only if Smith remains on the 49ers' roster on April 1, 2013. Smith received no signing bonus, and only 1 million of his 2013 salary is full guaranteed.In essence, that means nothing is guaranteed for Smith or Kaepernick.

49ers release Ian Williams

49ers release Ian Williams

The 49ers on Thursday released nose tackle Ian Williams off the reserve/non-football injury list with an injury settlement.

The move, which was disclosed on the NFL, daily transaction report, is a procedural move, according to sources. It allows the 49ers to provide Williams with more compensation than he would have received if he had remained on reserve/non-football injury for the entire season. The move does not preclude the 49ers from re-signing Williams in the future.

The 49ers originally agreed to a five-year contract extension with Williams in the offseason. However, the contract was amended to a one-year deal after he underwent a team physical after undergoing surgery on his left leg.

Williams, 26, is a five-year NFL veteran. He originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame in 2011.

He played his first 16-game season in 2015. He ranked third on the 49ers with 85 total tackles, according to the stats compiled by the coaching staff.

Williams took over as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle in 2013 after the free-agent departure of Isaac Sopoaga.

But he started just 10 games over the next two seasons due to two fractures of his lower leg.

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly's offense with the 49ers is his slowest-paced version of his four NFL seasons.


“I think that’s what fits with this group of guys we have on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said this week.

Kelly did not expound on that thought. But it could be safe to assume his thinking is the same reason why it does not make sense to enter a Ford Pinto to race against pro stock dragsters.

The 49ers’ offense is running more plays this season. The 49ers snap the ball every 24.4 seconds on offense. That’s down from 26.1 seconds last season, and 29.7 seconds in Jim Harbaugh’s final season in 2014.

Last season in Philadelphia, Kelly’s team snapped the ball every 22.6 seconds. In Kelly’s final season at Oregon in 2012, the Ducks snapped the ball every 20.5 seconds.

“I don’t think we’re playing fast right now,” Kelly said. “So if someone said, ‘How are you playing offensively?’ I don’t think we’re playing fast offensively. I think we’re just not going back (to huddle). We’re saving seven yards of run time for our offensive line because they don’t have to run back in the huddle, get a play called and then do it.

“We’re just calling it at the line of scrimmage. So I think it’s a lot of what Denver used to do when Peyton (Manning) was there. But there’s a lot of times that we’re under 15 seconds when we’re snapping the ball and getting the play off. So we’re not playing fast and we’re not calling tempo-type plays in those situations. We’re just calling plays.”

Kelly said part of the problem is that the 49ers are not converting third downs. The team has a 36.3 percent success rate on third downs, which is actually an improvement over the 30.5 percent success of last season.

But the 49ers’ overall lack of offensive success this season cannot be camouflaged.

The 49ers are averaging just 4.5 yards per play. The 49ers have not averaged fewer than 5 yards per play since 2007, when Alex Smith sustained a shoulder injury and was replaced by Trent Dilfer.

While the 49ers are running more offensive plays than it has in the past, so is the opposition. The 49ers have averaged 64.3 plays per game. The 49ers have defended 69.9 plays per game – only 2.3 more plays than last season but 8.1 more plays than in 2014.

The biggest problem for the offense has been its run defense. The league’s worst run defense has surrendered 185.1 yards per game and is on pace to give up 2,962 yards this season, which would be the most in the NFL since the 1980 New Orleans Saints yielded 3,106 rushing yards.