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Best player you’ve never heard of
Offensive tackle Joe Staley. A steady player throughout his career, Staley has earned more recognition this season and held Carolina’s Greg Hardy without a sack.
Wednesday’s column is the first in a series previewing Sunday’s NFL championship game contestants. Wednesday » the San Francisco 49ers.
East High School product Will Tukuafu is now strictly a fullback, after originally joining the 49ers as a defensive lineman.
Tukuafu injured his knee after catching a pass against Carolina and is being evaluated this week. Chuck Jacobs, a former Utah State receiver, is on the 49ers’ practice squad. Tracy Smith, an assistant special teams coach, and Mark Uyeyama, the strength and conditioning coach, worked at USU.
Reasons to cheer for them
The 49ers have enjoyed a strong Utah following, because of geography and the ties to former quarterbacks Steve Young and Alex Smith. Playing in a third straight NFC championship game, San Francisco is making the kind of steady ascent that rarely occurs in the NFL. Coach Jim Harbaugh and Kaepernick are demonstrative, dynamic and fun to watch in their roles.
Reasons to cheer against them
Any compliment to the brash, unrestrained natures of Harbaugh and Kaepernick also can be used against them.
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