San Francisco Coach Jim Tomsula remains committed to Colin Kaepernick as his quarterback and maintains the fifth-year pro has not lost any confidence.
Kaepernick has struggled this season as the 49ers (1-3) look for ways to get the ball into the end zone. Kaepernick threw for his only two touchdown passes in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers three weeks ago. He has thrown five interceptions, four in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals, since then.
Kaepernick has been trending downward since a Thanksgiving Day loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks, a game that prompted team owner John York to tweet an apology to the fans in the closing minutes. Kaepernick's rating was a woeful 36.7. His rating against the Cardinals was 16.7.
Through his first 34 starts, Kaepernick was 24-10, including two trips to the playoffs. He has lost seven of his last nine starts, dating to the Thanksgiving loss.
Kaepernick looks to reverse that trend when the 49ers play at the New York Giants on Sunday night.
"I want a confident man; just full-bore ahead at that position," Tomsula said. "I believe it's critical and I believe in Colin Kaepernick."
Gates, Hardy back
Star San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is back from a four-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, saying it's like a fresh start and that he needs to reestablish what he can do.
Gates practiced with the Chargers for the first time since early September. His first game back will be at home Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a matchup of 2-2 teams.
He didn't shine any more light on what he tested positive for, other than to say that his testosterone levels were high.
Gates, who has 99 touchdown catches, says he's motivated in part because Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe said Gates' suspension calls into question everything he's accomplished.
"Some people — I don't want to say no names, but a former tight end for the Broncos — said I was doing something, some type of steroid — 'This ain't natural' — so it just gave me more motivation," Gates said. "Fortunately, I get the chance to go out and prove I can still play this game."
Also returning from a four-game suspension is Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, who will make his season debut against unbeaten New England. The 27-year-old defensive end was accused of choking and pushing his ex-girlfriend and throwing her on a futon that had at least four semiautomatic rifles on it.
The Giants have taken a crash course on MRSA.
Team doctors, trainer Ronnie Barnes, the head of the team's facilities and the players union spoke to the team Wednesday after tight end Daniel Fells was hospitalized with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that kills thousands a year.
"It's a very serious thing, has been that way in this league for quite a few years," Coach Tom Coughlin said. "Everyone has been very aware of it."
Coughlin said Fells hopes to get out of the hospital on Thursday, although his season is now over after being placed on injured reserve.
Doctors have not discovered how Fells contracted MRSA, Coughlin said.