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Tony Avelar/ The Associated Press
The 49ers encourage Colin Kaepernick to run, and one observer wonders if that strategy hurts his pocket passing.
Paul Kitagaki Jr./ The Bee
Colin Kaepernick has insisted he didn’t say anything to prompt an $11,000 fine for inappropriate language.

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Who kidnapped Jim Harbaugh and brainwashed Greg Roman?

The 49ers, who have been as run-oriented, old-school and stodgy as any team in the league in the Harbaugh era, rolled out a slick new look against Arizona in the first half.

The 49ers rarely had used even three receivers over the previous three seasons. But presumably due to a lack of healthy tight ends, the team used five wide receivers on multiple occasions, including on five straight plays on the opening possession. The receiver-heavy look did not feature a running back and the 49ers ran it without a huddle.

It was successful.

Tony Avelar/ The Associated Press
The 49ers encourage Colin Kaepernick to run, and one observer wonders if that strategy hurts his pocket passing.
Paul Kitagaki Jr./ The Bee
Colin Kaepernick has insisted he didn’t say anything to prompt an $11,000 fine for inappropriate language.

GLENDALE, ARIZ. -- Colin Kaepernick was fined more than $11,000 last week because of a racial slur he said following an interception to the Bears, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, who cited “refs” as his source in a tweet today.

Kaepernick was penalized for “inappropriate language” at the time. He has insisted he didn’t say anything and that he will appeal the fine levied by the NFL this week. Video of the episode shows Kaepernick saying something to Bears defensive lineman Lamarr Houston. He does not appear to use a slur, although it is difficult to say exactly what was uttered.

Houston told The Chicago Tribune he didn’t hear Kaepernick say anything.

Jim Harbaugh said he didn’t hear anything from his spot on the sideline and that he believes Kaepernick. “Colin’s always been truthful 100 percent of the time,” he said.

Hector Amezcua/ The Bee
Tight end Vernon Davis will sit out today’s game against the Cardinals

Both Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald are inactive for today’s game against the Cardinals, which will give Derek Carrier, who had his first-ever NFL catch last week, his first-ever NFL start this week.

Carrier and Asante Cleveland, who was brought up from the practice squad Saturday, are the 49ers’ only healthy tight ends. That likely means a bigger role for fullback Bruce Miller and for the 49ers’ extra offensive linemen, who could be brought in to play tight end in blocking situations.

Long-snapper Kyle Nelson also could be tapped to play the position if the 49ers suffer further injuries.

In two meetings against the Cardinals last year, Davis had 11 catches for 225 yards and three touchdowns.

Tony Avelar/ The Associated Press
The 49ers encourage Colin Kaepernick to run, and one observer wonders if that strategy hurts his pocket passing.

If your offense includes designed runs by the quarterback, you may have to live with an ugly-interception game every now and then.

That was the take of NFL Films’ Greg Cosell after he watched Colin Kaepernick’s performance against the Chicago Bears last week. Cosell said he didn’t think Kaepernick played all that poorly. But he wondered whether a quarterback who is encouraged to run as much as Kaepernick ever will be able to throw from the pocket as well as the top passers in the league.

After two games, Kaepernick’s 14 rushing attempts trail only the New York Jets’ Geno Smith among quarterbacks. The 49ers have at least partially built their running game around Kaepernick’s read-option scampers. Touchdown runs by Carlos Hyde and Frank Gore, for example, have come on read-option plays on which the quarterback was a threat to run.

“Look at Michael Vick,” Cosell said. “Coaches marveled at his athleticism, which was superhuman, and every year what did people say? ‘Boy, he’s just got to improve as a pocket quarterback and he’ll be great.’ Well, 13 years into his career and he’s still a very spotty pocket quarterback.”

Saturday, September 20 2014
49ers game plan vs. Arizona


•  Opponent: at Arizona

•  Time: 1:05 p.m.

•  Line: 49ers by 3

file/ file
Tight end Aante Cleveland (No. 45) is mobbed by teammates after scoring a touchdown in the 49ers’ preseason finale.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- In a move that suggests at least one of their injured right ends won't play on Sunday, the 49ers today promoted tight end Asante Cleveland from their practice squad to the 53-man roster.

To make room, the team cut quarterback Josh Johnson. He had been serving as the team’s No. 3 quarterback and was inactive the first two games.

Cleveland (Christian Brothers High) is needed because both Vernon Davis (ankle) and Vance McDonald (knee) are questionable to play against the Cardinals. Both were able to do some light running Friday, but neither practiced during the week.

That leaves Derek Carrier, Cleveland and long snapper Kyle Nelson as the only healthy tight ends on the active roster. Carrier finished second on the team in receiving yards in Week 2 with three catches for 41 yards. The 49ers would rather not risk Nelson to injury. Their backup longsnappers are McDonald and Daniel Kilgore.

Paul Kitagaki/ The Bee
Vernon Davis is listed as questionable on the 49ers’ injury report with a a sore ankle and likely will be a game-time decision against the Cardinals.

The 49ers’ injured tight ends, Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald, were able to do some light running Friday, but both missed their third day of practice and are question marks for Sunday’s game in Arizona.

Davis, who led the 49ers in touchdown catches last season, is dealing with a badly bruised right ankle. He was still walking with a limp Friday but said he’s been making steady progress throughout the week, which included running and catching passes from the JUGGs machine while teammates practiced.

That was corroborated by McDonald, who is dealing with a knee injury.

“He looked really good,” McDonald said of Davis. “It was like night and day from (Thursday).”

Check out today's chat with The Bee's Matt Barrows as he assesses the 49ers' fortunes as they prepare for their upcoming game following last week's stunning defeat.

Access the live chat from mobile devices here.

Live chat: 49ers look to regroup, 10 a.m. Sept. 19

Friday, September 19 2014
Kaepernick lands on 49ers’ injury report
Paul Kitagaki Jr./ The Bee
Colin Kaepernick absorbed several big hits Sunday, including this one from Jared Allen.

SANTA CLARA The 49ers added quarterback Colin Kaepernick to their practice participation report Thursday with a back injury. Kaepernick was not listed on Wednesday’s report and went through Thursday’s practice in full, signaling that the issue is unlikely to cause him to miss any of Sunday’s game.

But it was the second straight year the 49ers quarterback has landed on the injury report following a Week 2 loss. Last year, he suffered a foot injury in Seattle. That issue, which Kaepernick recently revealed was a chipped bone on his forefoot and a ruptured capsule in the ball of his foot, prompted the 49ers to curtail his running while the injury healed.

It’s unknown what caused the current injury. Kaepernick took several shots, including a big one from behind by Bears defensive end Jared Allen, during Sunday’s loss. He also was in on a tackle following one of his interceptions. Kaepernick was observed doing back exercises with a medicine ball prior to Thursday’s practice.

Kaepernick, running back Carlos Hyde (calf), defensive end Justin Smith (not injury related) and tackle Joe Staley (knee) all practiced in full.

Derek Carrier entered last Sunday’s game against Chicago without an NFL catch. The 49ers’ young tight end finished it with three for 41 yards and seems to have a good chance of adding to his tally this Sunday in Arizona.

That’s because the 49ers’ top two tight ends, Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald, missed their second consecutive day of practice Thursday, putting their availability for the game against the Cardinals in doubt.

Davis twice walked through the locker room with an exaggerated limp. He suffered a deep bruise on his right ankle in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game and, until Thursday, has been using crutches to get around.

That, combined with McDonald’s knee injury, points to a bigger role for Carrier, a wide receiver-turned-tight end who spent most of last season on the 49ers’ practice squad.

file/ file
Police visited Ray McDonald’s home in May

Three months before they arrested Ray McDonald at his home, San Jose police responded to an incident involving a woman brandishing a handgun at the same house.

Police on Thursday released details of the incident on May 25 at approximately 8:09 p.m. According to the brief report, following an argument, a “female subject became upset, grabbed a firearm (handgun) registered to the male subject, and held it at her side.”

When the man called 911, the woman put the gun away and fled without incident. The report says the woman “did not make any threats or point the firearm at the male subject.” There were no arrests or criminal charges in the May incident.

The report identifies the two as “an engaged couple,” but sources said the incident involved McDonald and his fiancée and that it happened in the backyard of the same home on Bentley Ridge Drive in San Jose where McDonald was arrested Aug. 31.

Hector Amezcua/ The Bee
Vernon Davis is likely to miss his second straight practice with an ankle injury, and his availability Sunday is in doubt.

**UPDATE** Neither Vernon Davis nor Vance McDonald were on hand for the start of practice. Anthony Davis (hamstring) and Tramaine Brock (toe) also were not present.

SANTA CLARA -- Either Vernon Davis has a severe ankle injury or his acting skills have been honed to perfection from his stint as Captain Torpedo.

The 49ers' top tight end twice walked through the locker room today with an exaggerated limp. Davis injured his ankle in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game and, until today, has been using crutches to get around. He didn't practice Wednesday and seems very unlikely to practice today.

That combined with Vance McDonald's knee injury points to a bigger role for wide receiver-turned-tight end Derek Carrier, who finished with three catches for 41 yards, good for second on the 49ers behind Michael Crabtree Sunday.

For 49ers blog posts before May 2014, go to the blog archives


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

49ers Blog Archives

Note: The 49ers blog switched blog platforms in May 2014. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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