Smith and Montana names in same sentence


Smith and Montana names in same sentence

After an uneven first half, the 49ers' passing game got going in the second half Saturday in a 19-17 victory over the host Seattle Seahawks.And in the process, quarterback Alex Smith was credited with his fifth come-from-behind victory of the season -- and his fourth on the road. Smith tied Joe Montana for the most fourth-quarter comebacks in a single season in franchise history. Montana led four road comebacks in 1989.Smith completed just 5 of 16 first-half pass attempts for 43 yards in the first half. And he didn't get much help with a couple of dropped passes along the way.
But Smith, and the 49ers' offense as a whole, rallied in the second half. He finished with 14 completions on 26 attempts for 179 yards with no touchdown and no interceptions.Afterward, Smith met the media. Here is what he said:On the offense's production in the third quarter.
"They were playing us tough on the outside, a lot of man-to-man and press. It really felt like, especially that two-minute drive at the end of the half, it really felt like as we were playing I had a lot of backs turned to me and it felt like I could have moved the chains better at the end of the half and we took advantage of it in the second half. I kind of had it in my head. If they were going to play that way I was going to try to use my legs."On if the game felt like a playoff-type atmosphere.
"Yeah, absolutely. We know what was on the line. You hear all the talk coming out here all week. They were playing for their playoff lives and as you can see they threw everything at us. This is about as hostile an environment as it gets, I think. It's a tough place to play. I don't think we've won here for a few years. It's always going to be tough, especially when there's something on the line for both teams."On what was going through his mind after the Seahawks took the lead on Marshawn Lynch's TD run following the blocked punt by Heath Farwell.
"Obviously there was a little shift in momentum there with the punt block and then the score. But we got good field position. We had a decent amount of time on the clock. I'll tell you the truth, I don't know what that call was. I don't know how you throw the ball out of bounds to somebody and get offensive pass interference, it seemed like a pretty phantom call to me, but you deal with it. We had been talking about it all day we hadn't taken a shot. They were playing us aggressive and we knew they were trying to stop us before we took a shot. Michael (Crabtree) made a great play and got us in field goal position to win us the game."On making the decision to take a shot down field.
"We were just talking about it on the sideline and we knew at some point we were going to have to go after them and take that shot. We made the play when it counted."On if the fourth-and-2 play-call was originally for Vernon Davis.
"We ended up getting the holding call on that as well and we declined it. We came back to Vernon he wasn't the primary. He made a great play"On Delanie Walker and Kyle Williams getting hurt.
"I hope those guys get back healthy as soon as possible. I don't anything about the details of it."On if he saw Delanie Walker after the game.
"I haven't seen him yet, but obviously he does quite a bit for us run and pass."On the deep pass to Crabtree that set up the game-winning field goal.
"This all the way was Crabtree. With the look we got -- I had Vernon (Davis) on my right with a corner on him and had the matchup on the left with Crabtree that we liked and took the shot and he made a great play."(Transcription provided by the Seattle Seahawks public relations department.)

Vance McDonald makes push to be part of 49ers' future

Vance McDonald makes push to be part of 49ers' future

ORLANDO, Fla. – It has taken tight end Vance McDonald a while, but he has become a legitimate threat in the 49ers’ passing game.

McDonald, a second-round draft pick in 2013, recorded just 10 receptions in his first two seasons. He started to see more action last season after the 49ers dealt Vernon Davis to the Denver Broncos at the trade deadline. He has started 20 games the past two seasons, including all nine games in which he has appeared this year.

“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.”

Through three seasons, McDonald had not produced and given few indications that he warranted a contract extension. But as a player who is scheduled for unrestricted free agency in the offseason, McDonald is making a convincing argument to become a priority for the 49ers to re-sign.

McDonald ranks third on the 49ers with 22 receptions and second behind Jeremy Kerley with 382 receiving yards. McDonald has a team-leading four touchdown catches, including scoring plays of 75 and 65 yards.

“He’s one of our weapons on the offensive side of the ball and he runs better than most tight ends in this league,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. “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.”

Even the 49ers’ designated deep threat, wide receiver Torrey Smith, has not been able to shake free for as many big gains as McDonald, who is listed at 267 pounds.

“Vance has done a great job,” Smith said. “I’m very happy for him, especially knowing how hard he’s been fighting over the years. He’s finally getting a chance to show what he can do. And he’s done a great job. He’s very fast. That’s what helps him out a lot. It’s not often you can get a tight end and take it to the house, running past everyone.”

McDonald said he believes Kelly’s system allows him a greater opportunity to be part of the team’s passing attack.

“It provides the tight end an opportunity to be a big playmaker,” McDonald said. “I’ve welcomed that idea and embraced that role this year. It’s been a lot of fun.

“As an offense, I like looking at a bigger picture, and we have to be more consistent. I can help with that and I’m trying my best.”


Ahead of 49ers bout, Bears make call on Cutler's season


Ahead of 49ers bout, Bears make call on Cutler's season

Jay Cutler's season is over and his time in Chicago might be, too.

Coach John Fox announced Thursday that the veteran quarterback will have season-ending surgery on his right shoulder, the latest blow in a lost year for the Bears.

The operation to repair the labrum will take place on Saturday.

"I talked to him earlier today. He's in good spirits," Fox said. "It wasn't like it was never going to be an option. You try to avoid it, especially for a quarterback on your throwing shoulder. But he talked to many capable doctors, like he should. So that's been the determination at this point."

Matt Barkley figures to start his second straight game when the Bears (2-9) host San Francisco (1-10) in a matchup between struggling teams on Sunday.

Cutler injured his shoulder during a loss to the New York Giants on Nov. 20 but finished the game. Fox initially insisted the injury was not season-ending. But after working through treatment options, Cutler won't play again this season. If he has thrown his last pass for Chicago, Fox was not about to confirm it.

"You know, offseason is the offseason," Fox said. "We're not there yet."

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains had strong praise for Cutler.

"I just know my relationship with him and I know how the QB room feels about him and his teammates voted him a captain for a reason," he said. "I know how much Matt Barkley appreciates the input. I know how much Brian Hoyer appreciates his input as well. And I know how much I appreciate the things he's done to this point."

Loggains mentioned Cutler's toughness and "how much the team means to him."

"That's been incredible to watch," he said. "There's a perception and there's a reality of that. Just, it's been really fun the last two years getting to coach him and I've enjoyed every minute of it."

Cutler no longer has a high salary-cap figure, so it becomes more likely he could be traded or cut in the offseason. The problem for the Bears is they have no obvious replacement on the roster. Chicago has not drafted a quarterback in Ryan Pace's two years as general manager.

If they part with Cutler and don't trade for a quarterback, they could try to go with Hoyer as a stopgap or with Barkley.

Hoyer made five starts while Cutler was sidelined by a sprained right thumb and threw for more than 300 yards in four straight games before breaking his left arm at Green Bay on Oct. 20. Cutler was cleared to return in the days after that game. Whether he would have regained the starting job had Hoyer stayed healthy is not certain.

Cutler made five starts this season and completed 81 of 137 passes for 1,059 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions.

He came to Chicago in a blockbuster trade with Denver before the 2009 season and holds just about every major all-time franchise passing record. He is the Bears' leader in attempts (3,271), completions (2,020), yards (23,443) and touchdowns (154).

But the Bears are missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 years since the 2006 team reached the Super Bowl. The 2010 team beat Seattle in the playoffs before losing to Green Bay in the NFC title game, with Cutler sitting out most of the second half because of a knee injury.

Cutler at times has clashed with coaches and teammates since his arrival. He has also been hampered by poor offensive lines and a lack of talent around him. Throw in a penchant for turnovers at inopportune moments as well as a series of injuries and it's added up to a rocky tenure in Chicago.

"I know he's extremely competitive," Fox said. "I think he's been very tough-minded when he's had to deal with things, even in our tenure here, different surgeries, the hamstring, the thumb and now the shoulder. I think he's handled that as well as most guys I've ever been associated with."