NFC West: San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers were flagged for 16 penalties -- a single-game high under fourth-year coach Jim Harbaugh and tied for the second most in the NFL since 2011 -- during Sunday night's 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears.

The flag that had the 49ers scratching their heads the most, though, was the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on quarterback Colin Kaepernick for "inappropriate language" after a run-in with Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston .

"I didn't say anything," Kaepernick said after the game, in which he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.

Coach Jim Harbaugh reiterated in his Monday media conference that he did not receive an explanation about the penalty, which fueled speculation that a racial ephithet was heard, and said he still wants clarification from the league on the call.

"Yeah, we'd like that," Harbaugh said. "Find out about that."
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh stood his ground Monday when asked about California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s released statement of a day earlier that criticized the team for playing defensive lineman Ray McDonald in the wake of his arrest Aug. 31 for domestic violence.

“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,” Harbaugh said in his weekly news conference. “Our response would be, we have two principles at play here and one is respect for due process and we’re not going to flinch based on public speculation.”

The other principle, as Harbaugh, general manager Trent Baalke and CEO Jed York have said is that the 49ers have a zero tolerance for domestic violence. And with McDonald yet to be formally charged, the 49ers continue to allow the starting defensive lineman to play.

Harbaugh, though, acknowledged that he had not seen the specifics of Newsom’s statement.

Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco, called for the 49ers to sit McDonald in the release with his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

“The 49ers’ continued insistence on playing Ray McDonald during his ongoing criminal investigation is a painful affront to every victim of domestic violence and sends a troubling message to our community and especially our children that ‘zero tolerance’ are empty words, not real actions. In light of the increased public awareness of this issue in the wake of the horrific Ray Rice assault and today’s decision by the Carolina Panthers to deactivate Greg Hardy, we strongly urge the 49er organization we grew up revering to do the right thing -- right now -- and bench Ray McDonald, pending the outcome of his felony domestic violence by San Jose law enforcement.”

The Film Don’t Lie: 49ers

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
A weekly look at what the 49ers must fix:

A hallmark of coach Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers teams has been smart, disciplined play since he came to the NFL from Stanford in 2011.

But after Sunday night's epic fourth-quarter meltdown against Chicago -- an early 17-0 lead and a 20-7 fourth-quarter advantage morphed into a 28-20 defeat -- put a damper on the christening of Levi's Stadium, the 49ers need to reduce their penalties if they want to avoid a similar fate against the surprising 2-0 Arizona Cardinals.

The 16 penalties Sunday night are the most by a Harbaugh-coached Niners team, eclipsing the 15 times San Francisco was flagged in Week 6 of the 2011 season against the Lions in Detroit. The Niners won that game, though.

Asked what he would attribute the inordinate number of flags thrown against his team in the home opener, Harbaugh said: "Don't know, exactly."

It has to be curbed, though, heading into a key early-season divisional matchup.

Kaepernick: 'I didn't say anything'

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Observed and heard in the locker room after the San Francisco 49ers’ 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears at Levi’s Stadium:
  • Quarterback Colin Kaepernick insisted he said nothing to Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston to warrant an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for inappropriate language, which fueled speculation he used a racial slur. “I didn’t say anything,” he said. Asked if he was “shocked” when the penalty was explained, he said he was. Coach Jim Harbaugh also said the penalty was not explained. Asked to assess his overall performance, after throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble, Kaepernick said, “Terrible.”
  • Tight end Vernon Davis, who left the game with an ankle injury after catching three passes for 39 yards, was seen leaving the locker room on crutches. Harbaugh had no update on Davis.
  • Receiver Anquan Boldin was incredulous at the holding penalty called on him that negated a 54-yard Frank Gore touchdown run in the second quarter. “They must have seen another [No. 81] out there,” he said.

Rapid Reaction: San Francisco 49ers

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A few thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears:

What it means: A lot of penalties (16) and losing the turnover battle by a margin of four does not help when you’re trying to open a new stadium with success. The 49ers are great at taking advantage of opportunities given to them. A week ago, the Dallas Cowboys gift-wrapped a 28-3 halftime lead with four first-half turnovers. This week, the Chicago Bears obliged the official christening of Levi’s Stadium by getting their first punt blocked, the 49ers recovered on the Bears’ 8-yard line and cashed in with a touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree. But Kaepernick fell apart in the second half and with him went the Niners’ chances at opening their new digs with a win.

Stock watch: Falling -- Kaepernick. Remember his first NFL start, against these same Bears on national television two years ago? The first half seemed like more of the same. Then came the Bears defensive pressure. Kaepernick threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, even as he was having early success with the read option. Midway through the third quarter, when the 49ers led 20-7, he was outrushing the Bears by himself. He was also had a costly penalty for “inappropriate language” in the fourth quarter after a pick as he got in Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston’s face.

Baptism by fire: Rookie defensive back Jimmie Ward drew the assignment of defending Brandon Marshall. Ward is 5-foot-11, 193 pounds and Marshall, a five-time Pro Bowler, is 6-4. Marshall caught three touchdown passes against Ward, his one-handed grab while turning the opposite way one for the highlight reel.

Game ball: Since the 49ers got off to a quick start, let’s go with the rookie. It was Aaron Lynch who burst through the line at the end of the game’s opening possession to block Patrick O'Donnell’s punt. The 49ers recovered and, three plays later, the Niners scored the first touchdown in the history of Levi's Stadium. Lynch also nearly had a scoop and score inside the Bears’ 10-yard line but could not corral the ball. Instead, the Bears recovered.

What's next: The 49ers (1-1) travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals, the only 2-0 team in the NFC West. Arizona forced four turnovers in New Jersey to upend the New York Giants, 25-14, on Sunday, without injured starting quarterback Carson Palmer. The 49ers have won nine of the Past 10 meetings between the teams. The Cardinals’ victory in that time frame came on Dec. 11, 2011, in Arizona.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – While both of the San Francisco 49ers’ starting cornerbacks were listed as questionable to play in the team’s home opener Sunday night against the Chicago Bears, Chris Culliver is ahead of Tramaine Brock on the comeback trail.

Culliver, who suffered a concussion and stinger at Dallas, has been going through the league’s concussion protocol, practicing the past two days wearing a blue noncontact jersey, and is one step away from being cleared to play.

“Should be good to go,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of Culliver on Friday.

Culliver, it should be noted, was limited in practice for the second consecutive day, while Brock, who sprained a big toe in the opener, missed his third straight practice.

Perrish Cox would be in line to start in Brock’s place.

The Bears, meanwhile, listed center Roberto Garza (ankle) and guard Matt Slauson (ankle) out with receiver Josh Morgan (groin) doubtful and receivers Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and Brandon Marshall (ankle) questionable to play.

Following is the 49ers’ status report for Sunday:

Out: C Marcus Martin (knee)

Questionable: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), CB Chris Culliver (concussion, stinger), RT Anthony Davis (hamstring)

Probable: P Andy Lee (right knee), DT Justin Smith (not injury related)

49ers vs. Bears preview

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
Colin Kaepernick's first career NFL start came against the Chicago Bears, on "Monday Night Football" on Nov. 19, 2012. He lit up the Bears that night and while circumstances have the quarterback and his San Francisco 49ers teammates opening their new home against that same team, Kaepernick is anything but sentimental about the career arc. Besides, it's been almost two years and many things have changed.

NFL Nation reporters Paul Gutierrez, who covers the 49ers, and Michael C. Wright, who covers the Bears, break down the Week 2 matchup:

Gutierrez: Michael, the Bears obviously have a high-powered, pass-happy offense with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery & Co. And with the 49ers' secondary beat up, particularly at the cornerback position (starting corners Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver are injured, as well as nickelback Jimmie Ward), do you expect the Bears to attack the Niners through the air even more than usual?

Wright: Paul, I really think that would be a huge mistake, especially when considering there's some concern as to whether the Bears will have center Roberto Garza and left guard Matt Slauson in the fold. The Bears generated 427 yards of offense in the opener, but the pass-run ratio (49 passes, 18 runs) was atrocious. What's worse is the Bears weren't playing catch-up against the Bills, and Matt Forte was averaging 4.8 yards per attempt. Yet the ground game was virtually ignored. Bad move. My guess is the Bears reviewed tape of the opener and realized they've got to get Forte involved more. Besides that, DeMarco Murray had some success last week running the ball against the 49ers. From my vantage point, Forte is a better player than Murray. You also have to consider Chicago's situation at receiver. Jeffery left last week's game due to a hamstring injury, and Marshall was in and out of the lineup due to an ankle injury.

Given San Francisco's issues on the back end, throwing the ball would make sense, sure. But the Bears need to control the ball in this game, which in turn would keep their struggling defense off the field.

Sore subject, I know. But with all that's gone on with this Ray Rice situation, how much backlash has the organization gotten from the fan base by letting Ray McDonald -- who was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence -- play in the season opener against the Cowboys, and how much of a distraction has it all been in the 49ers' locker room?

Gutierrez: It's strange, because if you use social media as a barometer (which I do not recommend, by the way), then the fans are just fine, thank you very much, with letting him play until he is either formally charged with a crime or he is not charged with anything, even with the alarming nature of the arrest. Everyone associated with the 49ers from CEO Jed York to general manager Trent Baalke to coach Jim Harbaugh, who even harkened the Constitution and the Fifth Amendment for the media, are taking the “due process” route. As far as it being a distraction in the locker room, I can't say that it is, other than reporters asking players about it in media access periods.

Speaking of distractions, real or imagined, has Cutler finally won over the masses in Chicago?

Wright: That's an interesting question. Let me say this: the fans in Chicago absolutely want to love Cutler. But I'd say the fan base is split about 50-50 on him. Cutler seemed to be turning the corner last season as a quarterback and as a person, and that played a major role in the team deciding to invest in the quarterback long term. But then in the opener against the Bills, you saw the same old Cutler; the guy who reverts to shoddy fundamentals, and makes questionable decisions with the ball that get you beat. Obviously, one game isn't enough to truly gauge Cutler's progress. But everyone expected to see Cutler show a lot more command in Year 2 of operating Marc Trestman's system. He flashed that at times in the opener, but also tossed a pair of interceptions that led to Bills points. Then, in the aftermath, Cutler was petulant about his role in the defeat. So I wouldn't say Cutler has won over the masses. More and more people are beginning to believe Cutler might not be the answer long term.

The Bears gave up 193 yards on the ground against the Bills last week, so stopping the run is absolutely paramount this week. What would you say are the main differences between Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde in terms of their running styles, and in what situations would the 49ers be more likely to utilize each back?

Gutierrez: Well, for one, Gore is a 10-year vet and Hyde a rookie. For another, the 31-year-old Gore is built like a bowling ball at 5-foot-9, 215 pounds and has a lot of mileage on him after becoming the 29th member of the 10,000-yard rushing club, while Hyde, who turns 24 on Sept. 20, is 6-foot and 230 pounds. Gore is the bell-cow back who bounces off tacklers while Hyde prefers to try to run over opponents. Gore is the every-down guy, while Hyde is more of a short-yardage specialist. Too generic? Maybe, but it is interesting that while Gore led the Niners with 63 rushing yards at Dallas last weekend, Hyde averaged an eye-popping 7.1 yards per carry, and he popped it in from 4 yards out for his first career touchdown. Also keep this in mind: with the Niners releasing LaMichael James this week, they have only two tailbacks on the roster. You might see a return of the read-option by Kaepernick or even rookie receiver Bruce Ellington lining up as a running back in certain packages. And if so, I would not want to see him as a blocking back.

Which brings us to pass-rusher extraordinaire Jared Allen. How much does he have left in the tank?

Wright: Hate to go off just one game here, but he sure appeared to be running on fumes against the Buffalo Bills. The official statistics say he contributed only one tackle. Then, after the coaches reviewed the tape, they credited Allen with two stops. To me, the best defensive end for the Chicago Bears last week was Willie Young (seven tackles and a sack), and he doesn't even start. So my guess would be moving forward the Bears will likely start to give Young more time, while making Allen more of a pass-rushing specialist. Again, it was only one game. But Allen was a non-factor against the Bills against the run and as a pass-rusher. I truly don't think that performance was indicative of Allen's ability. Based on what I saw at training camp, Allen appears to still be one of the NFL's premier players. But he certainly needs to step up his game this week at San Francisco.

San Francisco has a couple of injuries in the secondary, but seems to have some decent replacements waiting in the wings. What's the status of Brock, Culliver and Ward, and if they're still ailing what types of things -- such as blitzes and coverages -- would San Francisco likely do to compensate for the situation in the secondary?

Gutierrez: Neither Brock, who sprained a big toe in Dallas, nor Culliver, who suffered a concussion and a stinger, practiced on Wednesday, which would seemingly be a bad omen when it comes to them suiting up on Sunday. Ward, meanwhile, did practice after a concussion was ruled out by doctors. If Culliver and Brock cannot go, then Perrish Cox, who picked off Tony Romo last week, and rookie Dontae Johnson will be the starting cornerbacks, and Chris Cook, who was not activated for the opener, will dress for the Bears. As far as schemes, the 49ers don't like to dial up too many blitzes or get too cute because their whole game plan is for their front seven to disrupt the quarterback enough to give their secondary time to adjust in coverage.

Boone or Looney? Looney or Boone?

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As a phalanx of media members and cameras surrounded him Wednesday afternoon, San Francisco 49ers right guard Alex Boone laughed.

“You know something I don’t know?” he wondered.

The question was an obvious one: After ending his holdout six days before the Niners’ season opener and playing sparingly at the Dallas Cowboys, would he regain his starting position for the christening of Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium?

Boone smiled and shook his head.

“Honestly,” he said, “I don’t know. It’s really up to the coaches. I just go out and practice and continue to learn every day and get better. It just comes down to how they feel.”

In Dallas, Joe Looney started at right guard, as he did throughout the preseason in Boone’s absence, and earned an overall grade of just -2.3 from Pro Football Focus.

Plus, PFF had Boone playing only four offensive snaps against the Cowboys, all as an extra lineman.

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh would not tip his hand on which player would get the start against the Chicago Bears this Sunday.

“We’ll make that decision,” Harbaugh said. “Both (are) fine players and we’ll make that decision as the week goes on. And we might have already made it.

“But again, we wouldn’t need to give that information out.”

Fair enough. But also chew on this possibility: As right tackle Anthony Davis, whose 64-game playing streak came to an end in the opener, missed practice Wednesday with a hamstring strain, might the 49ers flip Boone, who started every game the previous two years at right guard, to right tackle?

Jonathan Martin, who has been playing in place of Davis, had a relatively decent PFF grade of +0.8 against the Cowboys to go with left tackle Joe Staley (-1.2 overall, -3.2 in pass protection, +1.8 run blocking), left guard Mike Iupati (-1.8 overall) and center Daniel Kilgore (+1.1).

Per PFF, 18 of the 25 runs by 49ers running backs were outside the tackles, picking up 4.1 yards per carry.

Last week, Boone and his new two-year, $6 million contract got in work on the scout team, preparing the defensive starters for a skill set more closely resembling what they would face against Dallas than what a regular scout teamer would offer.

“It was awesome,” Boone said. “Practicing against Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Patrick Willis? It’s always fun to play with them. Whatever I can do to help the team get better.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh broke out his thesaurus on Wednesday when talking about 12th-year receiver Anquan Boldin.

"Stalwart," Harbaugh offered.

Wait, what?

Yes, Boldin, who has come back from a fractured face on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Eric Smith in 2008, is considered one of the toughest pass catchers in the game today. And you could say he has become quarterback Colin Kaepernick's most dependable target.

In the 49ers' 28-17 season-opening victory at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Boldin caught eight of the nine passes thrown his way by Kaepernick, for 99 yards.

So how, again, did Harbaugh come up with "stalwart" to describe Boldin?

"Strong," Harbaugh said. "Brave. I know there are a lot of definitions. It's a medieval term, but I like all of the definitions. I like all of the words that define ‘stalwart.'"

Indeed, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound second-round draft pick out of Florida State in 2003, thrives in the slot as he begins his second year with the 49ers after spending the previous three seasons with Harbaugh's brother John in Baltimore.

And Kaepernick by the way, was more succinct in describing Boldin.

"Great," he said. And that was it.

But Boldin had his own thoughts on how the 49ers offense in general performed last week after an offseason of drama.

"It felt really good to get back to what we love to do and just play the game of football," he said after the game. "We played OK. We didn't play our best football. But that's part of it when you have a lot of different pieces in for guys that are injured and a lot of new faces."

Maybe that's what Harbaugh meant when he pulled the "stalwart" card.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- There seems to be an issue as to the exact time Colin Kaepernick found out he would be replacing Alex Smith as the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback.

Coach Jim Harbaugh says he told the two early in the week before the Niners played host to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 19, 2012.

Kaepernick said he was told the night before.

Whatever the case, this much is certain: Kaepernick is not feeling all nostalgic about facing those same Bears less than two years later as the 49ers christen Levi’s Stadium on Sunday.

“Two and 0 benchmark is what we’re looking for,” he said Wednesday, referring to the 49ers trying to improve their record in Week 2.

Still, playing the team he first faced as an NFL starting quarterback is time for reflection, a chance to acknowledge what he did in that first start.

Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards that day and threw a pair of touchdown passes, a 3-yarder to Vernon Davis and a 10-yarder to Michael Crabtree, without an interception in the Niners’ 32-7 victory at Candlestick Park.

“We had to support Coach Harbaugh,” Davis said of the decision to go with Kaepernick over Smith, despite the 49ers sitting at 7-2-1 at the time.

“(Colin) was making plays," Davis added. "He hit me on a corner route. We were like, 'This guy can play.'”

The 49ers went to the Super Bowl that season, returned to the NFC title game last season and are the favorites in many corners to break through and claim the franchise’s sixth Lombardi Trophy this season.

Kaepernick, meanwhile, has shown growth as a pocket passer, going through his progressions rather than simply locking on to his intended target.

“It’s dictated by the defense,” he said. “That will determine where we’re going.”

Against Dallas last week, he looked much more comfortable in the pocket, even if his most eye-popping play came courtesy of his athleticism. Flushed to his right, Kaepernick ran out of the grasp of defensive end Jeremy Mincey before firing, off-balance, an absolute bullet to Davis. The ball was thrown so hard it bounced briefly off Davis' chest before he corralled it for a 29-yard touchdown.

“In my estimation, there’s only two people that could make those plays,” Harbaugh said. “One is Colin Kaepernick, and the other has an ‘S’ on his chest.”

Timelines don’t really matter, then.
San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore joined an elite club in Sunday's 28-17 season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

Yes, we already know he became the 29th member of the 10,000-yard rushing club. But more than that, Gore is just the 10th player to rush for that many yards while playing at least 10 seasons with one team.

[+] EnlargeFrank Gore
AP Photo/Joe RobbinsIn his 10th season -- all with the San Francisco 49ers -- running back Frank Gore is on pace to add to his more than 10,000 career rushing yards.
The others?

Try Emmitt Smith (Dallas Cowboys), Walter Payton (Chicago Bears), Barry Sanders (Detroit Lions), Tony Dorsett (Cowboys), Franco Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers), Thurman Thomas (Buffalo Bills), Fred Taylor (Jacksonville Jaguars), Jerome Bettis (Steelers) and Tiki Barber (New York Giants).

All but Taylor, Bettis and Barber are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though Bettis is a four-time finalist for enshrinement in Canton. So it begs the question -- is Gore worthy of Hall of Fame discussion?

Or is it too soon to bring up the topic?

Consider: Bettis, who rushed for 13,662 yards in his career as a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, went out on top with a Super Bowl ring while Barber was a three-time Pro Bowler, and one-time All-Pro and Taylor went to one Pro Bowl.

Gore, a five-time Pro Bowler with 10,033 career rushing yards who has been to the playoffs the past three seasons after being shut out the first six years of his career, has yet to win a rushing title, or be part of a Super Bowl championship team. Besides, a more hearty Canton case for a 49ers running back might first be made for Roger Craig.

Plus, Gore is 31 years old and his best days may be behind him, but he still has some run left in him.

"There's no shelf life for football players," said coach Jim Harbaugh. "And that's something I learned at an early age from my mom -- never to believe in expiration dates. She taught us that very early -- pay no attention to the expiration date on that can or that milk or that bread.

"Now, maybe she was just trying to get things at a lesser cost. Learned that very well. There is no expiration date. Even if the bread had a little mold on it, brush it off or cut it off and eat the other part, but we're not throwing it away. We're not throwing away good food or drink."

Or football players that can still contribute and, presumably, continue to build a case for Canton while helping a team that's been to three straight NFC title games finally break through to get the franchise's first Lombardi Trophy in 20 years.

Because with the 49ers currently having just two tailbacks on the roster in Gore and rookie Carlos Hyde -- LaMichael James went through waivers unclaimed on Tuesday, a day after requesting and being granted his release from the Niners while unhappy about a lack of playing time -- it's obvious San Francisco still has faith in Gore.

And that's just fine with him. After all, it was his 5-yard pickup off right tackle on third-and-3 that sealed the 49ers' victory over the Cowboys.

"That's me; I'm a very smart runner," he said, unapologetically. "I've got good feet and great vision. I know my alignments. You see different movement on the defensive line, and you know where they're going.

"That's just me being me."

NFL Nation TV has a new look

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
Join us today at 1 p.m. ET for ESPN’s NFL Nation TV’s Spreecast episode No. 22 as we unveil a new format. Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter), co-host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and new regular Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) are joined by guests Scott Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers reporter), Ben Goessling (Minnesota Vikings reporter), Todd Archer (Dallas Cowboys reporter) and Tania Ganguli (Houston Texans reporter) to discuss current events from Antonio Brown’s Karate kick to the Jet Sweep to J.J. Watt's dynamic performance to wondering if the Cowboys are still America’s Team. Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.

An MRI taken of Tramaine Brock's foot showed that he suffered a sprained big toe, according to multiple media reports, early in the San Francisco 49ers’ season-opening win at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. That puts his availablility for Sunday’s home opener against the pass-happy Chicago Bears in question.

Brock was not the only defensive back to get injured in Dallas, though, as fellow starting cornerback Chris Culliver suffered a concussion and rookie DB Jimmie Ward was examined for a head injury, though the exact diagnosis was never revealed by the team.

Brock returned late in the game when Ward left.

Perrish Cox, who had an interception of Tony Romo, and rookie Dontae Johnson stepped in and played admirably for Brock and Culliver.

“I thought there was some very good play,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “As I said, Perrish Cox, Dontae Johnson did some outstanding things in critical situations, stopping drives or getting the big interception. So, very excited, very excited and excited to coach up and to make improvements. I think that’s fundamental and good for our football team.”
San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young took a strong stand on how his former team has handled the Ray McDonald arrest for domestic violence and allowed him to play in the season opener.

Young, speaking on the set of ESPN’s "Monday Night Countdown," disagreed with how the 49ers have handled McDonald in the course of discussing Ray Rice being cut by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL in the wake of a video of him punching his then-fiancée in the face being released by TMZ.

“Then Ray McDonald gets arrested, and has visible bruising on his wife, felony domestic abuse, violence,” Young said. “Any company in this country, any big company, if that happens, they send you home. They might pay you, but you don’t play. You don’t come to work until we figure this out.

“You take an affirmative position on it. You’ve got to have no tolerance about it and mean it and then say, 'Look, if something happened and if it’s faulty, it’s a fraudulent assertion, then we’ll work it out in a few days or weeks and miss a couple of games, OK?'

“But we have got to have a policy that, if you get arrested for this, until we figure it out, we’ll call you when we figure it out. We’re going to call you from home. It just has to be that way or you’re not serious about it.”

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, general manager Trent Baalke and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have all said they wanted to let due process play out, while CEO Jed York has not yet commented.

“I understand due process; that goes on,” Young said. “Every owner can decide this for themselves.”

Can the 49ers get healthy at CB?

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
An examination of what the San Francisco 49ers must do after their win over the Cowboys:

Sure, a 28-17 victory that did not feel that close should do wonders for a team’s confidence going forward. But there were some warning signs along the way, ones the Niners have to address heading into this coming weekend’s home opener at Levi’s Stadium against the Chicago Bears.

For one, and this might actually be out of their control, the 49ers have to get as healthy as possible at cornerback before facing Bears QB Jay Cutler, who passed for 349 yards and two TDs in Chicago’s 23-20 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills.

The 49ers lost both starting corners on Sunday as Tramaine Brock (toe) and Chris Culliver (concussion) went down against the Cowboys. Plus, rookie DB Jimmie Ward left late and was being examined for a “head injury,” though no official diagnosis was revealed. Brock returned when Ward came out, so that bodes well for the immediate future.

As does the play of Perrish Cox and rookie Dontae Johnson. Cox had an interception, the second of his career and the first since his rookie season of 2010 with the Denver Broncos, and three tackles. Johnson had two tackles and a pass defensed.

“We all work together,” Cox said. “We are all tight in the back end. We have a great rotation going with each other. All of us can play. One man goes down, the next man has to step up."

They might have to do it again Sunday night in Santa Clara.

“Just being able to come in and help, contribute to the main goal here, and that is just winning," Johnson said. "That is the standard here. To come in and play hard, and all the rookies tried to do that -- just play to the best of our abilities.”

Expect the 49ers to activate an extra DB next week in Chris Cook, who was among the seven inactives against the Cowboys.

Also, the 49ers have to shore up the run defense after allowing DeMarco Murray to rush for 118 yards on 22 carries. Surely Bears running back Matt Forte, who went for 82 yards on 17 attempts against Buffalo, noticed a somewhat soft defense up the gut against Dallas.