Smith gets big plays in passing game

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Smith gets big plays in passing game

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers have been ranked near the bottom of the NFL in passing yards all season. Big plays have been rare.But the 49ers had success through the air Sunday against the St. Louis Rams in their 26-0 NFC West-clinching victory at Candlestick Park.Quarterback Alex Smith had his two longest pass plays of the season and both went for touchdowns. And Smith made another perfect deep pass on a ball tight end Vernon Davis dropped in the end zone.
After settling for three David Akers field goals in the first half, the 49ers broke through early in the third quarter.Michael Crabtree used a stutter move against cornerback Justin King on a deep post and caught Smith's perfectly thrown pass for a 52-yard touchdown."I just had to go get the ball," said Crabtree, who is tied with Davis for the team-lead with 48 receptions. "Alex made a great throw and I ran up right under it."Second-year receiver Kyle Williams showed his 4.43 speed in the 40-yard dash early in the fourth quarter to provide another long touchdown.The Rams brought a six-man blitz, and Smith threw an 8-yard hitch to Williams, who cut inside of right cornerback Josh Gordy and outran everybody to the end zone for a 56-yard score."(I) certainly didn't expect him to house-call it, but he slipped inside, broke a tackle and that was it," Smith said.Smith had the best passer rating of his career (142.3), as he completed 17 of 23 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns. One of Smith's six incomplete passes could've easily been a 40-yard touchdown.Davis got several steps behind Rams safeties Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell, but he simply dropped the second-quarter pass in the end zone. Davis said he got "over-excited because I'd pretty much killed the guy and I was in the end zone.""I've never had that happen to me before," Davis said. "I know all the great ones in the past, T.O. (Terrell Owens), Jerry Rice, they dropped passes. But that's not something I want to do. I want to be better than that. You always want to be better than the best. So that's something I have to get fixed."

49ers' Buckner selected to All-Rookie team

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49ers' Buckner selected to All-Rookie team

San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner on Monday was selected to the NFL's All-Rookie team in a vote of the Pro Football Writers of America.

Defensive end Joey Bosa of the Chargers was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. Running back Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys was named Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Buckner, the 49ers’ No. 7 overall pick from Oregon, started all 15 games in which he appeared. He ranked second among all NFL defensive tackles with 73 tackles on the season. He finished with six sacks, ranking fourth in the NFL among rookies.

2016 PFWA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
2016 PFWA OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
2016 PFWA DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: DE Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers
 

2016 PFWA ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
Offense
QB – Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
RB – Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys; Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
WR -- Sterling Shepard, New York Giants; Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
TE – Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers
C – Cody Whitehair, Chicago Bears
G – Joe Thuney, New England Patriots; Laremy Tunsil, Miami Dolphins
T – Jack Conklin, Tennessee Titans; Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions
Defense
DL – Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers; DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers; Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs; Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville Jaguars
LB – Jatavis Brown, San Diego Chargers; Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears; Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons
CB – Vernon Hargreaves III, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars
S – Karl Joseph, Oakland Raiders; Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons
Special Teams
PK – Wil Lutz, New Orleans Saints
P – Riley Dixon, Denver Broncos
KR – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
PR – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
ST – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

49ers Mailbag: Shanahan the overwhelming favorite, if he wants it

49ers Mailbag: Shanahan the overwhelming favorite, if he wants it

The 49ers have interviewed six head coach candidates and nine prospects for the general manager position.

During the search, 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe admitted to candidates that mistakes were made and the roster is in shambles. They have also promised all the resources necessary and plenty of patience in fixing the problem, according to multiple sources.

Three of the 49ers’ six original coach possibilities – Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams), Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills) and Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers) -- have already taken jobs elsewhere. Perhaps the top candidate, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, decided against uprooting his four children from the East Coast and remain in the no-lose situation of working with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for at least another season.

That leaves Kyle Shanahan and Tom Cable as the last known candidates for the job. And this is where we go to our 49ers Mailbag to answer questions submitted on our Facebook page:

Do you think Kyle Shanahan will be our next coach?‬ (Praize Rodriguez)
I’m not able to predict how strongly Shanahan, 37, wants to become a head coach at this stage in his career. But it appears to be his job if he wants it.

The 49ers decided to wait on McDaniels and Shanahan. McDaniels announced on Monday that he has removed himself from consideration. That leaves Shanahan as the overwhelming favorite for the job. Really, he is the only legitimate candidate for the job.

Cable is regarded around the league as a good coach. In the right circumstances, maybe he will again get the opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL. But the 49ers might be the worst fit, considering what occurred when he was in the Bay Area as the Raiders coach. Cable's time with the Raiders ended with allegations he punched an assistant coach, breaking his jaw, and had a history of domestic violence.

The 49ers will be able to speak again with Shanahan after the NFC Championship. If the Atlanta Falcons lose, they can get the deal done immediately. If the Falcons advance to the Super Bowl, they must wait until after the game to make things official.

The last team to wait for a Super Bowl coach was the Atlanta Falcons, who ended up with Dan Quinn, who signed a contract in the early morning after the Seattle Seahawks’ loss to New England in Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015.

That worked out pretty well.

Who would be the best GM fit if the 49ers hire Kyle Shanahan?‬ (Brad Peltier) ‬
The 49ers were the only team with a general manager opening this offseason after firing Trent Baalke. With no competition, the 49ers compiled a strong list of interviews for the job.

Assuming Shanahan wants the coach job, he will be able to meet with the finalists for the general manager position and see which of the remaining candidates he believes is the best fit for his philosophy on building a roster.

York and Marathe set out two weeks ago to find the best pairing of coach/general manager, so their input and direction during the final phase will be pivotal, too.

Arizona’s vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough looks like a strong fit. McDonough is believed to have Shanahan ranked at the top of his list of coaches even though the men have never worked together. McDonough has experience on the pro and college scouting sides, and he has helped build one of the top defenses in the NFL with the Cardinals.

Green Bay director of football operations Brian Gutekunst also has extensive history as a college scout, and he impressed the 49ers with a strong interview on Jan. 5. There is also some buzz about Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton and Seattle co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner.

Who do you think will be the defensive coordinator if Shanahan takes the job?‬ (Ryan Cruz)
The 49ers last year received permission from the Houston Texans to interview linebackers coach Mike Vrabel for the position. Vrabel’s stock has only risen after the Texans ranked first in the NFL in total defense under coordinator Romeo Crennel. Vrabel turned down Chip Kelly's job offer.

Vrabel’s name surfaced for the first time this offseason as a head-coaching candidate, though he did not receive a formal interview. This would be a good opportunity to Vrabel to, in essence, be the head coach of the defense while Shanahan’s focus is solely on the offense. This could be a tempting situation for Vrabel because Shanahan's offense does not present the same issues and concerns that defensive coaches had working on the other side of Kelly.

Another strong candidate to join Shanahan’s staff as defensive coordinator is Falcons’ secondary/senior defensive assistant Marquand Manuel. Manuel played eight NFL seasons as a defensive back and worked with Falcons coach Dan Quinn at the University of Florida, then Seattle before moving onto Atlanta.

If Shananahan is coach, is Kap pretty much done in SF?‬ (Juan Ito Heredia)
Of course, that decision on what happens with Colin Kaepernick and the remainder of the roster will be up to the new head coach and general manager.

But one of the 49ers’ main selling points is a fresh start and a clean break from how things have happened in the past. That means the head coach will be free to choose his own staff. That means the general manager can structure the scouting department as he chooses.

That also means, of course, that the coach and general manager will have all the power to assemble the roster.

It is difficult to believe any new coach and new general manager will not want to hit the reset button and start over at the quarterback position.