From Comcast SportsNetSANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Jim Harbaugh watched how Colin Kaepernick handled himself when things didn't go right for the San Francisco 49ers, and that told the coach plenty more about his second-year quarterback with all of three NFL starts to his name.Enough that Harbaugh is sticking with Kaepernick under center -- for now, anyway -- as his team gears up for Sunday's home game against the Miami Dolphins at Candlestick Park."Just a winning quarterback performance in tough circumstances," Harbaugh said Monday. "In the evaluation, I thought Colin played well, did a lot of really good things, made some good decisions. ... I thought some real positives to take away from his performance."Yet Alex Smith isn't out of this mix yet, either. Another sub-par performance by Kaepernick could have Harbaugh going back to the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick for the final December push toward the playoffs. The reigning NFL coach of the year is leaving every option open down the stretch.A day after a 16-13 overtime loss at St. Louis, Harbaugh accepted the blame for the fourth-quarter pitch that was fumbled by Kaepernick and led to Janoris Jenkins' 2-yard fumble return for a touchdown and ensuing 2-point conversion that tied the game. Harbaugh didn't call the play, but relayed it through the headset to Kaepernick."Responsibility-taking starts with me on that option play that resulted in the nightmare scenario," Harbaugh said. "Position of the game that where I should not let that play be called. So I take responsibility for that."At 8-3-1, the Niners are prepared for a challenge from the Seahawks (7-5) in the NFC West after Seattle won in overtime at Chicago on Sunday. The teams play at Seattle in the second-to-last game on Dec. 23.Everybody around San Francisco is looking for a strong finish by a team that has set its sights on the Super Bowl since moments after last year's near miss: a 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual champion New York Giants in the NFC title game."You're mad to the point where you don't really feel anything right now," linebacker Patrick Willis said Sunday in St. Louis.After this week's home game with Miami (5-7), San Francisco also must travel to New England in another daunting road task. The 49ers are certainly frustrated with the way their two games against the Rams wound up after a 24-24 tie on Nov. 11."We expect to execute," left tackle Joe Staley said. "We didn't execute. Late in the season we shouldn't be having games like this."David Akers missed another key field goal in what has been a difficult stretch for the kicker. His 51-yard attempt with 4:16 remaining in overtime went wide right, only three weeks after he missed left on a 41-yard try also in overtime against the Rams.While Akers was listed on last week's injury report with a pelvis issue, he looked fine during practice from as far out as 50 yards. Harbaugh expects him to play against the Dolphins -- even after the team brought in a couple of backup options for tryouts last Tuesday.Akers, who set an NFL single-season record with 44 field goals in 2011, has made only 15 of his last 24 attempts."We'll see what his health status is this week, but all indications are he's working through something," Harbaugh said. "He's kicked well in practice. He's kicked well in games. I thought the one that he hit in the ball game that was missed was well hit. It just didn't go in."Harbaugh will call on all of his players to improve during practice this week and challenge each other, saying "we don't lay it on anybody's particular doorstep.""It's a tough loss," he said. "It's one you wake up this morning, and that gut-wrenching feeling is still there. The positive things are we still have a quarter of the season to play. Four games, we're in position to control our own destiny and bounce back. Certainly a bit of an edge, I would expect, because we all take responsibility we didn't get it done this week."Notes: Harbaugh said he met with defensive end and special teams regular Demarcus Dobbs regarding his arrest Friday morning -- on his 25th birthday -- for suspicion of driving under the influence and marijuana possession. Harbaugh said Dobbs is expected to be available for Sunday's game after he didn't travel for the Rams game. "That's a situation we're handling internally," Harbaugh said. ... Harbaugh said he had no update on the shoulder injury sustained by WR Mario Manningham.
With their 109-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, the Sacramento Kings sit 10 games under .500 at 17-27. In almost any other season, that would mean that they were dead in the water in the Western Conference playoff race. But this it the 2016-17 season where anything is possible at the bottom.
Following Sacramento’s win at the Palace at Auburn Hills, DeMarcus Cousins was asked about the playoff picture.
“It’s my only goal this season,” Cousins told reporters following the game. “My only goal.”
When pushed on the subject, he gave a more complete answer.
“Oh man, it’s eating me alive - every loss or every time another team wins that’s battling for the eighth spot, it’s eating me alive,” Cousins added. “Our only goal is to be in the playoffs this season.”
The Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with the win over the Pistons and they came into the evening just 2-10 over their previous 12 games.
Once they get through their current eight game road trip, they spend the entire month of February in the Pacific time zone and play 11 over their next 13 games at Golden 1 Center.
“The one thing I can give credit to this team about is us staying together and being a positive locker room through the ups and downs,” Cousins said. “I’m still confident and I still believe we’re going to make that push for the playoffs.”
Despite the rough patch, the Kings remain just a game and a half out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. No one is running away with that last playoff spot, at least not yet.
Everyone must contribute. With Rudy Gay gone for the season, Sacramento needs a team effort each night out if they are going to have a chance of turning things around. Balancing the roster on the fly is never easy, but it’s the hand that the Kings were dealt when their second leading scorer tore his Achilles last week.
Needing a win in the worst way, the Kings walked into the Palace at Auburn Hills and came away with a huge 109-104 victory. Demarcus Cousins put up numbers, but it was the supporting cast that found a way to rise to the occasion and snap the team’s five-game losing streak.
“We’re going to need everybody on this team,” Cousins told reporters following the game. “At some point, everyone on the bench is going to win a game for us. Tonight, it was Ty (Lawson), it was Willie (Cauley-Stein) and it was Malachi (Richardson).”
Lawson was a magician with the ball. He entered the game with the Kings down just one with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter, but the Pistons caught fire around that time and pushed the lead to 11 with 20 seconds remaining in the quarter.
It looked like Sacramento might fall behind big once again, but then Lawson and the bench unit took over.
“Ty Lawson, Malachi Richardson and Willie Cauley-Stein had a great energy when we were down 11 in the first half,” Joerger told reporters. “Obviously, probably the best Willie’s played all year. Same for Malachi. He got some run, he got a little burn in the second half, felt pretty good.”
Powered by Lawson, the offense instantly opened up in the second quarter as the Kings tracked down the Pistons on their home floor. Sacramento outscored Detroit 37-24 in the frame to take a three point lead into the intermission. Lawson posted nine points and handed out four assists in the quarter.
“When our offense gets sticky, he’s able to create shots for guys by getting kickouts and getting in the lane,” Joerger said.
The 5-foot-11 point guard didn’t let up in the second half, finishing the night with 19 points and six assists in 23 minutes of action.
“Chico just goes and plays, man, that’s Chico,” Cousins said of Lawson. “If there’s anyone with a green light to just go and play, it’s him. We love what he does with this team. He’s a spark off the bench for us. He gets us going when there’s a slump. We love the little guy.”
Lawson has become a catalyst off the bench for coach Jeorger. The 29-year-old speedster signed a one-year deal with the Kings late in the offseason and he’s quickly found his niche with the team.
“You play with Ty, you can’t help by want to run, because he will pitch it to you and that’s the best motivation - everybody wants to score,” said Joerger.
Cousins and Lawson didn’t do it alone. Cauley-Stein had one of his games of the season, finishing the night with 12 points and five rebounds. Darren Collison added 12 points, Garrett Temple chipped in 11 points and veteran Matt Barnes added 10 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s a big, bounce back win,” Cousins said. “We were kind of heartbroken about the last lost. We felt we did everything needed to pull a win and it just didn’t go that way for us. We kind of showed our character and showed we could overcome some type of adversity with the win tonight.”
The Kings are back at it on Wednesday in Cleveland when they hit game four of their season-long eight-game road trip. They’ll face LeBron James and the championship Cavs for the second time this month.
“It’s huge, we had a little stretch where we lost like eight of nine games, something like that,” Lawson told CSN’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “Getting a win going into Cleveland, it makes us feel a little bit better. Now we’ve got to go in and get a tough one.”
A tough one indeed. Cleveland sits at 31-13 on the season, but they are coming off back-to-back losses against the Spurs and Pelicans.