Category Archives: San Francisco 49ers

Richardson scores, Colts win his debut

Trent Richardson’s wild week ended with his new team going across the country and scoring an upset.

Four days after being traded by the Cleveland Browns to the Indianapolis Colts, Richardson scored his first touchdown of the season and finished with 13 carries for 35 yards as the Colts beat the San Francisco 49ers.

The Colts acquired him and played him on short notice because they needed him, so after practicing with the Browns Wednesday he had essentially two days to get caught up on the Colts playbook so that he could feel comfortable enough to play a role and the team could feel comfortable that he would be able to contribute.

“At first, everything was going fast, but the game did slow down,” Richardson told reporters after the game. “I hit the playbook real hard and got to studying. I knew the game was going to come to me and I just had to let the game come to me. Also Andrew Luck is a genius and Ahmad Bradshaw helped me out. All the guys on the offense helped me out and they were encouraging. They want to be great and I know why I am here. I am here for the long run and I am not going anywhere. We are going to be a great team.”

Asked how he liked playing with Luck, Richardson said: ” I love playing with Luck out there. He is a good person, a genius, and a rocket scientist out there. Playing beside him you must know your stuff.”

So, as all these quarterback-needy teams go through their seasons while evaluating the game’s most important position for the future, they have some criteria.

Good people. Geniuses. Rocket scientists.

Richardson scored, untouched, on his first carry as a Colt from one yard out. His arrival also sparked Bradshaw, who wasn’t really the incumbent because he’s new to the Colts and was limited by injury throughout training camp and the preseason.

Bradshaw ran 19 times for 95 yards and a touchdown and was essentially the closer as the Colts pulled away during the second half. If both stay healthy going forward the Colts could have a potent running game. Obviously the Colts think Richardson can be a much more productive runner than he was with the Browns, and plenty of people will be watching over time to see if he will.

Luck, who isn’t really a rocket scientist but is a pretty gifted young quarterback, is counting on Richardson to get comfortable with his surroundings and make more plays as the season goes along.

“I thought (Richardson) did phenomenal,” Luck said. “I can’t imagine practicing Wednesday in one city and then you get on a flight and you are practicing Thursday in another city. I think we all know he is a football player. No stage is too big for him and we hardly ever saw his eyes get big or wide like ‘Oh my gosh what do I do?’. (He) definitely has the trust and respect of all our guys because of that. To him and Bradshaw and Donald Brown, they have worked together so well I think Donald and (running backs) coach (David) Walker do such a good job of bringing him up to speed that he was able to contribute and get a touchdown. How cool was that?”

The fallout from Baltimore’s trade of Anquan Boldin

There are trades and then there are trades and then there are trades that are really something.

When the Baltimore Ravens gave up wide receiver Anquan Boldin for a sixth-round draft pick, that was a trade that ranked in the “really something” category.

The notion that Boldin would leave the Ravens was shocking in itself. There is no stronger or more physical presence at the position in the league. The guy plays, he leads and he contributes. His playoff performances as the Ravens won the Super Bowl were outstanding. In four games, he had 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He also came down with a huge third-down catch in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that set up a field goal that made Baltimore’s lead five points.

Boldin isn’t the fastest, the biggest or the most polished of receivers.

But he can block, he’s as strong as anyone and most important he shows up on Sunday.

Add him to a 49ers team that already includes Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis and Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick and … well … that’s Super Bowl caliber again.

Even if Boldin doesn’t work out, all San Francisco gave up was a sixth-round pick. Which is well worth the risk.

Meanwhile, the fallout in the AFC North is not insignificant.

The Browns won’t have to watch Boldin beat them up twice a year, nor will the Bengals. Boldin had 32 catches for 488 yards and three TDs against the Browns, and 22 for 264 yards and four TDs against the Bengals.

That mismatch has moved on.

The other fallout could affect the Browns free agent plans. Rumors and logic have the Browns interested in Ravens linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe.

Trading Boldin clears $6 million in cap space for the Ravens. Whether that’s enough to keep Ellerbe or Kruger remains to be seen, but it’s a step.

Finally, Baltimore is not as good without Boldin as it was with him. But it’s hard to think that Ozzie Newsome doesn’t have a plan ready and waiting to replace him. The Ravens are consistent winners for a reason.

From the NFL Combine: Would Alex Smith be a QB upgrade?

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Browns won’t reveal their quarterback plans until Friday when coach Rob Chudzinski addresses the media gaggle at the Scouting Combine.

And they may not reveal them then, because Chudzinski may play the “still studying” card.

But the 49ers made it plainly evident without saying it directly that the Browns (or any team) would have to give something up if they want to add Alex Smith. The 49ers plan to take full advantage of the fact they have Smith under contract.

General Manager Trent Baalke said the team has not yet decided if it will trade Smith, who lost his job to Colin Kaepernick last season, but he sure sounded like a guy ready to do so.

And he sounded like a guy who would take advantage of the fact that the draft is not strong for quarterbacks, and Smith is the best experienced option available to a team looking for one.

“Are we going to trade him for sure?” Baalke said. “No, that hasn’t been decided.”

But he also said he had dinner with Smith and his wife shortly after the Super Bowl, just to make sure all parties had an “understanding” of the situation.

He said “all options” are on the table.

And he said: “We are going to do everything in our power to make the best decision for everyone involved.”

He also called Smith “a pro’s pro.”
“I can’t say enough great things about him,” Baalke said.

And he added: “I have nothing but great respect for him.”

Sound like a guy building up a guy for a trade?

Smith is under contract for $8.5 million this season. The 49ers would like to keep free agent safety Dashon Goldson. Having Smith and Kaepernick on the roster would be a sticky situation. So the 49ers could release Smith, which he’d like, or they could trade him. Which clearly seems to be the team’s preference — though they would have to find another team to pay Smith that salary, barring a contract re-do.

Nobody knows if Smith is on the Brown radar, but owner Jimmy Haslam has said there will be competition at quarterback in ‘13. The Browns must decide if Smith is enough of an upgrade over Brandon Weeden to justify a trade. Smith is a former first overall pick, and he’s younger than Weeden.

Smith’s career rating is 79.1, his career percentage 59.3. He’s averaged 179 yards per game passing in his seven seasons.

He started well last season (rating: 104.1 with 13 TDs, five interceptions and 7.97 yards per attempt), but lost his job after being sidelined with a concussion when Kaepernick was so dynamic. Even with the high rating and 70 percent completion rate, Smith averaged just 193 yards per game in 2012. For a team that eventually went to the Super Bowl.

As a rookie, Weeden had a 72.7 rating (thanks to throwing more interceptions than touchdowns) and averaged 225.7 yards per game.

Smith is a decent NFL quarterback. He doesn’t throw as well as Kaepernick, nor does he bring a new dimension to the Browns other than experience.

At this point, if the 49ers insist on a trade, which presumably means a draft pick as compensation, it seems more logical for the Browns to stick with Weeden and give him a chance in the offense directed by Norv Turner.

Unless the Browns want to start over (again) just for the sake of starting over.