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NOTEBOOK: 49ers Are High On Hartline

Posted Dec 7, 2012

Hartline to join some exclusive Dolphins receivers.



Brian Hartline may not get as much publicity as other wide receivers in the league, but the 49ers are well aware of what he can do.

Hartline goes into Sunday’s game needing 109 yards to reach 1,000 on the season for the first time in his career.

“Yeah, I don’t know why he’s under the radar,” said 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “He’s been impressive watching tape on him this week. He’s their leading receiver. Obviously the quarterback has a comfort level with him, too. He likes to throw to him. He’s deceivingly fast and quick and he’s got good hands, and a good route runner. This guy’s a good player.”

If he reaches 1,000 yards, Hartline will become the eighth receiver in franchise history to reach that plateau in a season, joining Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, Irving Fryar, Chris Chambers, O.J. McDuffie, Tony Martin and Brandon Marshall.

It’s not something Hartline is overly concerned with, though.

“It’s always been a goal of mine, but there’s so much more on our plate right now,” Hartline said Friday. “I mean, it’s there, but it’s not the top goal. I want to be there, don’t get me wrong, but it is what it is at this point.”

ALL ABOUT ‘THE U’

Two of the greatest running backs in University of Miami history will be on the field Sunday with the Dolphins’ Lamar Miller and the 49ers’ Frank Gore.

The two also were high school stars in Dade County, Miller at Killian High and Gore at Coral Gables High.

Miller said he followed all the great UM running backs before him — Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and, yes, Frank Gore.

Miller’s teammate on defense will be the ones trying to slow down Gore, who is 28 yards shy of reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth time in eight NFL seasons.

“Frank Gore is not a perimeter runner, but a slash-type runner,” said linebacker Kevin Burnett. “It’s almost like the old Denver Broncos type runners, not the same scheme but that type of runner.”

REMEMBERING ALDON

The Dolphins will be going up against the NFL sack leader Sunday in the form of outside linebacker Aldon Smith.

Smith already has 17.5 sacks on the season, following a fabulous rookie year when he finished with 14 sacks.

After he played only 17 games in college, including only four during an injury-plagued 2010 season, Smith surprised some observers by how dominant he quickly became as an NFL pass rusher.

Dolphins rookie tight end Michael Egnew played with Smith in 2009 and 2010, and isn’t surprised in the least.

“He’s got long arms,” Egnew said. “You’ll see that from the film, he’s an incredible athlete. There’s no surprise. If you’re surprised by him, then you didn’t watch his Missouri film.”

RESPECTING THE DEFENSE

San Francisco will come into the game with a defense that’s ranked first in yards per play; second in yards per game, rushing yards per carry, passing yards per game and passing yards per play; and third in rushing yards per game.

The Dolphins’ offensive players clearly are aware of the challenge that awaits them.

“Tough defense, physical defense,” said guard Richie Incognito. “Their front seven defense is among the best in the league. Their safeties are tough, physical, hard-nosed guys. They come down in the box, they make tackles. It’s probably the best-tackling group we’re going to play all year. These guys make tackles on the spot. They don’t miss tackles. Great at stopping the run and they get a ton of pressure on the passer. Fundamentally, they’re one of the best defenses we’re going to play all season.”

Center Mike Pouncey echoed those sentiments.

When he was asked whether there was any one player he particularly was looking forward to facing, he said: “Where should we start? All those players are good. It’s going to be a good game. They’ve got the best linebacking crew we’re going to go against. Obviously they have two of the best pass rushers with both of the Smith brothers (Aldon and Justin, who are not related). They’re very good. They play well together. So we’ve got to be ready very prepared for this game.”

NAME THAT TUNE

A couple of hours before the Dolphins boarded the team plane for San Francisco, one of the musical selections during the stretching portion of practice appropriately was “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Also on the musical list Friday were “It Was A Good Day” by Ice Cube and “Zero 76” by Tiesto & Hardwell.

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