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I am newer to covering the 49ers than most of my media colleagues, but I have been a fan my entire life. My first “foot in the door” gig covering the Niners was to go to Patrick Willis’ ProCamp. For those of you who don’t know, ProCamps is an organization that facilitates kids spending a day, sometimes two, with their favorite athlete. Upwards of 300 kids at a time attend camp, which is an organizational feat in itself. The kids are broken up into smaller groups, do warms ups, drills and even play in scrimmages. The campers get a chance to interact one on one with the pro athlete featured at the camp. My first ProCamp was also Patrick Willis’ first ProCamp. 


At the start of the camp the player addresses the entire group and there is usually a Q&A and trivia about the player. The campers age range is 5-12 for most camps, 5-18 for others. As a result, some of the kids know everything about the athlete and others, simply know the team they play on. What impressed me the most was Patrick’s message to the campers. He talked about how being from Bruceton, Tennessee, he had really wanted to be attend the University of Tennessee. 

"They didn’t want me, but when someone doesn't want you, that doesn't mean you give up on wanting to go to school or wanting to pursue your dream, that just means you find a way to go get it somewhere else. That worked out at Ole Miss, they gave me a full ride and that's where I went, and here I am years later." 

Willis also talked to the Campers about thanking the people that brought them to the camp, and what a great opportunity it is to be able to go to a program like ProCamps. He touched on his childhood a little bit and thanked everyone in the crowd himself. 

Patrick Willis is an anomaly. He is humble and grateful while being incredibly talented. He had every opportunity to take the wrong path during his challenging childhood (link to his E:60 piece), but did not. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet with Patrick and wish him the best in his retirement. He will be missed. 
 
 
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No one on the 49ers team or staff made any excuses that injuries were a part of the loss to the Denver Broncos but even Peyton Manning acknowledged that they were a factor. Manning after the game: "They have some injuries that I think put some pressure on their defense and we were able to take advantage of that." 

The resounding theme amongst Harbaugh and the players was the 'Next Man Up' mantra regarding how "Players need to be ready whenever their number is called," Antoine Bethea

Patrick Willis: "It's been a season of injury but we make no excuses. When one man goes down it's another man's opportunity to step up. Our guys have done a great job at that." 

Vernon Davis: "It's been tough for us but we can't blame it on the injuries. We still have to play. We have guys that can back certain guys up and we believe in them." 

Eric Reid on what the game would have been the outcome with all of the starters playing:  "That's something we can't worry about. It's a hypothetical situation that isn't real right now. No matter what the situation is, we got to go out there and play."

I think Ahmad Brooks summed it up the best saying about the injuries "It probably caught up with us today. We have a lot of key guys out." 

 
 
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It was a questionable start for the Niners letting the Rams get a 14 point jump on them in the first quarter. 24 unanswered points and a pick six for rookie Dontae Johsnon sealed the win. Unfortunately for the 49ers, this win came at a cost. 

Patrick Willis left the game with a toe injury due to the turf and was seen later on the sidelines in a walking boot. More will be known once the team returns to the bay area. 

Jimmie Ward injured his quad. 

Mike Iupati left the game with a concussion. 

Stevie Johnson took a direct hit by a knee to his hip and left the game but per the 49ers twitter account, it isn't serious. 

The Niners are already without key players: Navorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Anthony Davis and Tramaine Brock so the Next Man Up motto has already been in full effect. Expect to see much more from Dontae Johnson and Chris Borland this Sunday when the 49ers face the Denver Broncos. 

 
 
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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
For the third week in a row the 49ers played heavily penalized football. The stats are startling. 

vs. Cowboys 11 penalties for 78 yards

vs. Bears 16 for 118 yards

vs. Cardinals 9 for 107 yards

Luckily in week one, the offense was able to out-play the penalties, and/or the Dallas defense was that bad. Losses in the last two weeks, however, are already trying the nerves of the players and coaches and the resulting tension is boiling over on the field. 

At the risk of sounding cliche, I do believe that players need to play at a level where bad calls cannot determine the results of the game. Unfortunately, it's becoming nearly impossible to do that. Although I believe that some of the calls have been legitimate, many have been superfluous and unnecessary and the flow of the game is being interrupted.

Leaning on the side of safety, there have been more calls for late hits and targeting, which is understandable, but under review, even Mike Pereira has admitted to some blown calls. The problem with this is that the path of the game is being altered without the chance for a review or correction. If the NFL is so determined to get it right and keep players safe, why not get it completely right and make those calls reviewable?


Deep in the 3rd quarter, Patrick Willis came up the middle as the pocket was closing on Drew Stanton, he put his head to the side of Stanton's chest as he wrapped his arms around him and took to the ground, clean tackle. Flags were thrown for roughing the passer, resulting in a first down.

After the game Willis said that the team needed to watch film and see where they can do better. He also included, "
I never go out there with any bad intent. I'm just going to play football the way I know how. I'm just going to go out there and be physical and tough."