Sports

Stanford, 49ers on same page when it comes to chasing titles

Jim Harbaugh, David Shaw, Shayne Skov and A.J. Tarpley shared the same stadium for a few hours Wednesday. All of them share the same goal.

While Harbaugh, Skov and fellow Stanford grads Chase Thomas and Jonathan Martin were practicing with the San Francisco 49ers on one side of Levi's Stadium, Shaw, Tarpley and senior receiver Ty Montgomery were on the other side participating in the Bay Area college football media day.

The 49ers are looking for a Super Bowl championship. The Cardinal is looking for a BCS championship. They both have players committed enough to work toward those goals.

Stanford opens its training camp on Monday, with its first game less than a month away. The 49ers have been training for a week or so and are beginning preparations for their first exhibition game next weekend.

"Shayne is doing an excellent job," Harbaugh said. "He and Chase Thomas are acquitting themselves very well. All the linebackers are vying for starting spots in the lineup."

Tarpley, who played next to Skov the past few years, has a starting spot sewn up for Stanford.

"Tarpley has been overshadowed somewhat by Shayne Skov," said Shaw, in his fourth season as Cardinal head coach. "He's going to be one of the best linebackers in the nation."

That assessment is shared by Skov, who spoke just outside the Niners locker room between morning and afternoon practices.

"He's the most underrated athlete in the nation," Skov said. "He's fast, he makes plays and he's smart."

Smart enough to learn from players like Skov and Thomas.

"Playing next to Shayne was awesome," Tarpley said. "I think we complemented each other well. We always had fun and shared great success. I know with Bay Area roots he's happy about the opportunity he has. He's as hard working as anyone."

On Thomas, Tarpley said: "He's another guy who works hard. He can use his hands like nobody else and in ways that no one can learn. I know he's hungry and has a great attitude."

Skov said having Thomas and Martin in the same locker room gives him a sense of comfort. "Having a couple of friends making the same adjustments makes it a nicer locker room."

Skov, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the 49ers, remains undaunted about his ability to play in the NFL. It's the next step of a journey.

"I know what I can do and I know what I want to accomplish," Skov said. "I'm just trying to get a grip on the play book and do what is expected."

Tarpley, meanwhile, thinks Stanford will be just fine in the linebacker corps.

"We're going to be younger than ever before but we have guys who are among the best in the country," he said. "We have guys like James Vaughters, Kevin Anderson, Joe Hemschoot and Blake Martinez who are ready to step up."

Stanford returns 14 starters, seven on defense. Shaw is confident the Cardinal, picked to finish second behind Oregon in the Pac-12 North Division, will be as competitive as it has been since Harbaugh coached the team to an 11-win season in 2010.

"We look forward to what we can accomplish," Shaw said. "We have a lot of budding stars and veterans on the team."

Defensive end Henry Anderson, cornerback Alex Carter, strong safety Jordan Richards and Tarpley are all on both the Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch lists, which recognize the top defensive players in the nation.

Anderson is also on the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch lists while Tarpley also appears on the Butkus Award and Lombardi Award lists.

Richards finds himself on the Lott IMPACT Trophy and Jim Thorpe Award watch lists, which honor defensive performance excellence.

Montgomery, along with quarterback Kevin Hogan, is on the Maxwell Award watch list, which is designed to honor the Player of the Year. Montgomery, who is recovering from shoulder surgery in February, also appears on the Walter Camp Award list, with offensive lineman Andrus Peat, and the Biletnikoff Award list for the top receiver in the nation.

Hogan's name also shows up on the Davey O'Brien Award and Johnny Unitas Trophy lists, which honor top quarterbacks.

Other watch list candidates include Graham Sculer (Rimington Award), Jordan Williamson (Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award), Wayne Lyons (Lott IMPACT), Vaughters (Butkus Award), and Kelsey Young (Doak Walker Award).

Stanford should be fun to watch, opening with three home games. UC Davis visits Aug. 30 in a 1 p.m. contest, followed by USC on Sept. 6 at 12:30 p.m. and Army on Sept. 13 at 2 p.m.

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