Fantasy: Vernon Davis

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19


Christopher Harris analyzes Vernon Davis' value for Week 3.
Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis missed his third consecutive practice Friday with left ankle and knee injuries and was officially listed by the San Francisco 49ers as being questionable to play Sunday at the Arizona Cardinals.

Backup tight end Vance McDonald, who is nursing a right knee injury, is also questionable, keeping the spotlight on third-stringer Derek Carrier.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who appeared on the injury report Thursday for the first time with a back issue but was a full participant then, was again a full participant Friday. He is listed as probable.

Following is the 49ers' status report for Sunday:

OUT: C Marcus Martin (knee)

QUESTIONABLE: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), RT Anthony Davis (hamstring), TE Vernon Davis (ankle/knee), TE Vance McDonald (knee)

PROBABLE: RB Carlos Hyde (calf), QB Colin Kaepernick (back), DL Justin Smith (not injury related), LT Joe Staley (knee)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Rookie nickelback Jimmie Ward, all 5-feet-11, 193 pounds of him, had his NFL baptism by fire at the hands, and feet, of the Chicago Bears' 6-4, 229-pound Brandon Marshall last Sunday.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
AP Photo/Tony AvelarSan Francisco rookie Jimmie Ward went up against a bigger body last Sunday in Chicago's Brandon Marshall and goes up against a similar player next in Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald.
The San Francisco 49ers' first-round draft pick was victimized for all three of Marshall's touchdown receptions, from 17, 5 and 3 yards, in the Bears' 28-20 comeback win at Levi's Stadium.

"It's only going to get me better," Ward said after the game.

"I was challenging him ... I was trying to press him and [get] in his face, but he made some great catches. He's good with his body."

And now, after enduring a -1.6 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus, Ward figures to get a healthy dose of another physical wideout in the Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald, who is 6-3, 225 pounds and has lined up in the slot 36.7 percent of the time in two games.

So how can Ward improve in that potential matchup, especially in the red zone?

"Play a little firmer," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "Know that the body that he's going against is bigger than his and get him some help. He's just got to play a little better. He was trying to do things right the other night, but just weren't good enough.

"It's not a major overhaul or panic button, he's just got to be a little bit better."

Fangio as well as other players have talked with Ward this week to keep his confidence up after a rough outing.

"He's a confident competitor, but yet accountable," Fangio said. "He knows if a play isn't good enough, he knows that. He doesn't start to look for excuses or point the finger. He just looks at himself. But, yeah, he's a confident guy."

As is the eight-time Pro Bowler Fitzgerald.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Their confidence a bit shaken after the meltdown against Chicago, the 49ers might start slowly in Arizona before regrouping late. Regardless of who is under center for the Cardinals -- Carson Palmer? Drew Stanton? -- the Niners must apply pressure to help out a secondary that is also still trying to right itself as opponents have actually averaged more passing yards per game than the 49ers (212.5-212.0) through two weeks. A small sample size, sure. But rookie DB Jimmie Ward endured an NFL baptism by fire at the hands of Brandon Marshall in the slot and you can be sure Larry Fitzgerald, who has lined up in the slot 36.7 percent of the time this season, will find his way there to confront Ward. Also, Niners QB Colin Kaepernick must spread the ball around to pass-catchers beyond Michael Crabtree, who has torched the Cardinals in his career (41 receptions, his most against any opponent, for 618 yards and six TDs), and not lock onto a receiver in trying for the home-run ball as much if the Niners are trailing. A late Phil Dawson field goal should do the trick.

My prediction: 49ers 24, Cardinals 23
If Vernon Davis is unable to play in the San Francisco 49ers’ NFC West divisional matchup at the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday due to injuries to his left knee and ankle, quarterback Colin Kaepernick will have not only lost his security blanket at tight end, but his primary scoring threat.

Consider this: Since the start of last season, only three different 49ers receivers have caught a touchdown pass from Kaepernick -- Davis (15 TDs on 91 targets), Anquan Boldin (7 on 142 targets) and Michael Crabtree (2 on 44 targets), per ESPN Stats & Info.

And in that same time frame, every other team in the 32-team NFL has had at least six different players with a TD catch.

Earlier in the week, coach Jim Harbaugh said he thought the 49ers “dodged a bullet” with Davis’ injury, which occurred when he was rolled up on by Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic after being tackled on an 8-yard reception with about 10 minutes to play in the 49ers’ 28-20 loss on Sunday night.

But Davis has not practiced this week and was limping badly around the locker room on Thursday, days after he needed crutches to get around.

Asked Wednesday if he thought Davis would play this weekend, Kaepernick shrugged.

“I’m not going to talk on another man’s injury,” Kaepernick said.

Then let the stats do the talking, because the last wideout to catch a Kaepernick TD pass other than Boldin or Crabtree was Randy Moss in Week 15 of the 2012 season.

Kaepernick has thrown 177 passes to players other than Davis, Boldin and Crabtree over the past two seasons without connecting for a TD.

No names mentioned in May report

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19

San Jose police said Thursday they responded to a 911 call in May at the home of San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, after a man called and said a woman grabbed a gun during a dispute between the engaged couple.

No names were mentioned in the report, and there were no arrests as police said the weapon was never pointed and no threats were made.

The home belongs to McDonald.

According to the police report, the woman held a handgun "at her side" during the dispute but put it down and fled after the man said he was going to call 911. The gun was registered to the man.

The call occurred at the same address where McDonald was arrested on felony domestic assault charges on Aug. 31. The court date for that incident was postponed Monday and rescheduled for Sept. 29.

Police have told multiple media outlets that follow-up investigations are still ongoing. Police also told the San Jose Mercury News that the May case has no bearing on the August incident that involves McDonald.

San Jose police have released few details surrounding McDonald's arrest in August, saying only that officers at the scene saw the accuser, who was pregnant, with "visible injuries."

The 49ers have maintained that they will let due process play out, even in the face of calls from the likes of California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to deactivate McDonald, who has started both of the 49ers' games this season.

(Read full post)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was added to the San Francisco 49ers’ injury report Thursday with a back issue, though he was a full participant in practice.

Also, left tackle Joe Staley was upgraded to full participation a day after being limited with a knee injury.

Tight ends Vernon Davis (left ankle/knee) and Vance McDonald (right knee) were out again, as was cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), right tackle Anthony Davis (left hamstring) and center Marcus Martin (knee).

Running back Carlos Hyde (calf) and defensive lineman Justin Smith (not injury related) were also full participants.

ESPN Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss discusses Arizona's quarterback situation, as well as what the Cardinals need to do to get past the 49ers on Sunday.
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- With both Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald still hobbling around -- Davis' left ankle, McDonald's right knee -- might the San Francisco 49ers' tight end spotlight turn to a third-string, converted basketball player?

Derek Carrier, who played small forward at Beloit College in Wisconsin until his junior year despite averaging 8.3 points while starting 21 games for the Buccaneers, could be in line to start at tight end for the the Niners in Sunday’s road game against the Arizona Cardinals.

"I just try to focus on what I need to do individually to help the team the most," Carrier said Thursday. "That’s just go out there and execute and do my job."

He was rushed into service late in Sunday’s 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears, two of his three catches coming after Davis and McDonald were hurt. For the game, Carrier had three receptions, the first of his career, for 41 yards, including a clutch 22-yard pickup.

"He plays fearless," said 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. "He goes out, he’s going to give you everything he has, and he’s willing to go and make a play. I think he showed that on Sunday."

If he has to show it again this Sunday in Arizona, the 49ers will be short-handed in terms of bodies and experience between Kaepernick and Carrier, but not confidence.

"It’s something that comes with time, comes with reps," Carrier said. "And that’s why I think the last game against Chicago was valuable for myself, getting that time with Kap to work.

"For me, I think it was a great learning experience being there at crunch time and being able to get some reps in there. Unfortunately we got the loss, but for me I thought it was a great learning experience."

The NFL Live crew make their picks for San Francisco at Arizona.

Jerry Rice: Bench Ray McDonald

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Jerry Rice has joined former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Steve Young in suggesting that the San Francisco 49ers bench defensive lineman Ray McDonald while the criminal investigation in the wake of his Aug. 31 arrest for domestic violence continues.

Rice told Sports Illustrated he shares the feelings of his former quarterback, who offered the same opinion on ESPN's "Monday Night Countdown" last week.

"I would have totally just taken him off the field until it was resolved," Rice said Thursday, "but they have decided to let him play, and it's just unfortunate. But I feel when you have something that's weighing you down like that, and because it's a very important topic and it's very sensitive, I just feel he should have been taken off the field."

The 49ers have maintained their stance several times -- that they will let due process play out, even in the face of calls from the likes of California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to deactivate McDonald, who has started both of the 49ers' games.

"You've seen there's been a lot of public speculation and people weighing in with their opinion, whether it's a public figure or people through social media," coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday. "Our response would be, we have two principles at play here. One is respect for due process, and we're not going to flinch based on public speculation."

McDonald has not been charged. San Jose police continue their investigation before sending their findings to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office for consideration of charges.

(Read full post)

Inside Edge: 49ers-Cardinals

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18


ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando delivers stats to help you make a pick for San Francisco at Arizona.

49ers waiting on Anthony Davis at RT

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Anthony Davis, who started every game of his first four years at right tackle for the San Francisco 49ers until missing the first two of this season with a left hamstring issue, has yet to practice this week.

Jonathan Martin, acquired this offseason, had been doing a serviceable job on the right side ... until having a rough go of it in Sunday night’s 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Martin allowed two fourth-quarter sacks in the Bears’ comeback win, along with four pressures overall, to post a -1.2 grade, per Pro Football Focus.

"I thought I played well for a lot of the game," he said at the time. "That last drive is obviously not up to par. So, it’s frustrating. It’s something to improve on. Got to do better next time, next game."

Among other 49ers offensive linemen, right guard Alex Boone allowed two hurries and had a grade of -0.7 in his first start after holding out for a new contract all summer, and left guard Mike Iupati had a good game with a +1.8 grade.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, though, would not comment specifically on the job done by Martin.

"We could talk about a lot of guys," Harbaugh said. "There’s some really good things and things that we’ll look to improve on. We all kind of fall into that category right now after this game. We all feel like we have fingerprints on it.

"Some really good things were done by Jonathan Martin, by our offense, by our defense, by our special teams. Other things we need to improve on."

Kaepernick excels vs. the blitz

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Sure, the San Francisco 49ers want Colin Kaepernick to be more adept as a pure pocket passer, but not at the expense of utilizing his legs to keep defenses honest.

But in the 49ers’ 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday night, in which Kaepernick threw three interceptions and lost a fumble while the Niners blew leads of 17-0 and 20-7, Kaepernick excelled when facing undue pressure but struggled mightily when he had time to look downfield, so to speak.

And yet ...

“I don’t see the difference in his play,” insisted coach Jim Harbaugh, “whether he’s blitzed or not blitzed.”

Then it’s in the results.

Consider: On 11 dropbacks in which he was blitzed by the Bears, Kaepernick had a passer rating of 117.7 in completing 5 of 8 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown, per Pro Football Focus. And when he was not blitzed? Kaepernick’s rating was just 46.2 on those 31 dropbacks with all three of his picks coming in those situations as he completed 16-of-26 for 202 yards.

He was also 1-for-5, a 22-yard completion, with two INTs on throws at least 20 yards downfield.

Kaepernick’s take?

“I guess that’s really dictated by what the defense was doing,” he said.

“We just look at plays as far as whether they’re good or bad.”

Might the Bears have taken a page from the Seattle Seahawks’ playbook and provided the Arizona Cardinals with a blueprint on how to flummox Kaepernick – flood the line, seal the edge and stay away from the blitz?

Or was it simply an anomaly on Sunday?
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis was one of six San Francisco 49ers players to miss practice on Wednesday as he was listed as dealing with ankle and knee issues, even as coach Jim Harbaugh said earlier in the day he thought the Niners “dodged a bullet” with the injury.

The others to sit out practice as San Francisco geared up for Sunday’s divisional matchup at the Arizona Cardinals: cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), right tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring), center Marcus Martin (knee), tight end Vance McDonald (knee) and defensive lineman Justin Smith (not injury related).

Left tackle Joe Staley (knee) was limited while rookie running back Carlos Hyde (calf) was a full participant.