2014 DRAFT GUIDE
After trio of near misses, 49ers chase Super Bowl

By JANIE McCAULEY - AP Sports Writer
    2014-08-27 12:23

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Three straight seasons of being so close have the 49ers yearning for a Super Bowl championship they believe is right within reach. So now, no more near misses.

Especially after watching the rival Seahawks win it all last season following San Francisco's six-point loss at Seattle in the NFC championship game that could have gone either way.

''It's a new year, this is a rebirth,'' coach Jim Harbaugh said. ''One of the things, we're reborn this year into some very high expectations. We welcome that. My young son, Jack, was born and put some very high expectations on him. Happy to report that he's exceeding them. And we'd like to do the same.''

In the inaugural season at new Levi's Stadium, San Francisco is striving to establish a home-field advantage much like it had during a memorable four-decade run at Candlestick Park.

There's no sugar-coating that this team will be satisfied with anything less than a championship ring.

''No. 1, looking back on it you're always happy to be in a situation to have a chance to compete for a Super Bowl,'' defensive lineman Justin Smith said. ''The mindset is, `We're there.' It's not talking about `Let's get in the playoffs' or `hopefully try to get to the NFC championship game or the Super Bowl.' Our goal is to get to the Super Bowl and win it. You can actually say it, like we've been saying it the last couple years, with a straight face. It's a good feeling to be in that situation.''

Here are some things to watch for with the 49ers:

LEVI'S STADIUM INAUGURAL SEASON: The 49ers certainly hope their preseason debut at Levi's is a far cry from how they will defend their home field in the first year at their sparkling new digs.

It was Denver 34, San Francisco 0, which sent fans for the exits midway through the third quarter Aug. 17. They bounced back to beat San Diego 21-7 last Sunday.

Their first chance in the regular season comes in prime time on Sept. 14 against the Bears.

The stadium is being sodded for a third time in four months in an effort to find the right grass and soil combination that will stay rooted for the long haul. The initial grass put down in April failed to hold and was re-sodded for last Sunday's game against the Chargers.

BIG-MONEY KAEPERNICK: Colin Kaepernick landed that big-money new contract he wanted during the offseason, and now it's time to back it up.

In June, the fourth-year QB received a $126 million, six-year extension through the 2020 season. The deal includes $61 million in guaranteed money.

Kaepernick insists it's not all about the money, and that he has come a long way in ''our players having confidence in me.''

SKINNY PLAYBOOK: Without offering specifics, San Francisco has simplified its typically thick offensive playbook. Whether that will contribute to more efficiency getting the play called in the huddle in time remains to be seen; it was an issue for the offense the past two seasons.

''Generally, we cleaned things up,'' Kaepernick said. ''Looks great to me. Took out a little bit of the indecision in some of things. I think everyone is excited with what we've done and the strides we've made.''

NO BO: Star linebacker NaVorro Bowman tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee during the NFC championship game loss at Seattle and underwent surgery.

''There's no question NaVorro has held down that position, been a big part of our defense being as good as it has been for the past few years,'' Willis said. ''To go without him the first half of the season, he's truly going to be missed.''

The 49ers also could be without Aldon Smith if he receives an NFL suspension for his offseason legal issues.

''We've just all got to step our game up and see what we can do, especially with Bo being out,'' Justin Smith said. ''We feel good about where we're at.''

RECEIVING DEPTH: Kaepernick's talented receiving corps is deeper than ever since he took over as the starter midway through the 2012 season. From Anquan Boldin and a healthy Michael Crabtree, to newcomer Stevie Johnson, returnee Brandon Lloyd, and tight end Vernon Davis, Kaepernick has ample options.

''It does make my job easier. You don't have to worry about matchups as much, necessarily whose running what part of the route,'' Kaepernick said. ''I want to get the ball in their hands and see what they can do with it because I know they're going to be competing just the way everyone else is.''

---

Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Alameda Ta'amuDec 21 07:42p

The Arizona Cardinals have declared DL Alameda Ta'amu, OG Anthony Steen, WR Brittan Golden, SS Chris D. Clemons, QB Drew Stanton, OG Jonathan Cooper, DL Kareem Martin inactive for Week 16.

Chris MatthewsDec 21 07:32p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared WR Chris Matthews, DL Demarcus Dobbs, WR Kevin Norwood, C Max Unger, OT Russell Okung, TE Tony Moeaki, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 16.

Ahmad DixonDec 21 11:52a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared SS Ahmad Dixon, LB Anthony Barr, OT Carter Bykowski, OG Charlie Johnson, TE Kyle Rudolph, CB Shaun Prater, FB Zach Line inactive for Week 16.

Devier PoseyDec 21 11:52a

The Houston Texans have declared WR DeVier Posey, TE Garrett Graham, LB Jason Ankrah, S Josh Aubrey, LB Mike Mohamed, QB Tom Savage, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo inactive for Week 16.

A.J. KleinDec 21 11:52a

The Carolina Panthers have declared LB A.J. Klein, OG Amini Silatolu, CB Carrington Byndom, OT David Foucault, RB DeAngelo Williams, DL Kyle Love, SS Robert Lester inactive for Week 16.

Charles GodfreyDec 21 11:52a

The Atlanta Falcons have declared CB Charles Godfrey, LB James Anderson, OG Jon Asamoah, CB Ricardo Allen, QB Sean Renfree, DL Stansly Maponga, LB Tyler Starr inactive for Week 16.

Jamarca SanfordDec 21 11:52a

The New Orleans Saints have declared SS Jamarca Sanford, DL Lawrence Virgil, LB Moise Fokou, WR Seantavius Jones, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, OT Terron Armstead, RB Travaris Cadet inactive for Week 16.

Justin BrownDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Clifton GeathersDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Carl BradfordDec 21 11:42a

The Green Bay Packers have declared DL Bruce Gaston, LB Carl Bradford, CB Davon House, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis, TE Justin Perillo, QB Scott Tolzien inactive for Week 16.

Chris McCainDec 21 11:42a

The Miami Dolphins have declared LB Chris McCain, OT Dallas Thomas, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Don Jones, WR Matt Hazel, OG Nate Garner, WR Rishard Matthews inactive for Week 16.

Arthur BrownDec 21 11:42a

The Baltimore Ravens have declared LB Arthur Brown, DL Casey Walker, CB Chris Greenwood, C Gino Gradkowski, WR Michael Campanaro, OG Ryan Jensen, DL Terrence Cody inactive for Week 16.

Aaron MurrayDec 21 11:42a

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared QB Aaron Murray, RB Charcandrick West, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, CB Marcus Cooper, DL Nick X. Williams inactive for Week 16.

Gary BarnidgeDec 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared OT Andrew McDonald, TE Gary Barnidge, RB Glenn Winston, CB Joe Haden, DB K'Waun Williams, WR Rodney Smith, OT Vinston Painter inactive for Week 16.

Chris ConteDec 21 11:42a

The Chicago Bears have declared FS Chris Conte, QB David Fales, OG Kyle Long, PK Robbie Gould, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott, DL Will Sutton inactive for Week 16.

Dakota DozierDec 21 11:33a

The New York Jets have declared OL Dakota Dozier, SS Jaiquawn Jarrett, QB Matt Simms, FS Rontez Miles, DL T.J. Barnes, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 16.

Alfonzo DennardDec 21 11:33a

The New England Patriots have declared CB Alfonzo Dennard, OG Dan Connolly, RB James White, OT Jordan Devey, WR Julian Edelman, CB Kyle Arrington, RB LeGarrette Blount inactive for Week 16.

Anthony CollinsDec 21 11:32a

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have declared OT Anthony Collins, FB Evan Rodriguez, CB Isaiah Frey, DL Lawrence Sidbury, RB Mike James, WR Robert Herron, WR Solomon Patton inactive for Week 16.

Kelvin BenjaminDec 21 11:22a

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin won't face Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) Sunday, Dec. 21, who is out with a shoulder injury.

Joe HadenDec 21 11:22a

Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) is out Sunday, Dec. 21.

Julio JonesDec 21 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is active Sunday, Dec. 21.

Jay CutlerDec 21 10:22a

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T Y HiltonDec 21 10:22a

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DeMarco MurrayDec 21 10:12a

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Zach ErtzDec 20 07:42p

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz had 15 catches for 115 yards Saturday, Dec. 20. Both of which are career highs.

Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 20 06:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) will be a game-time decision Sunday, Dec. 21, after not practicing all week.

Julian EdelmanDec 20 06:02p

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 16. Edelman didn't receive final clearance from the concussion protocol to play Sunday, Dec. 21.

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