I thought it was worth sharing that Eric Branch just announced he is leaving the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and thus will no longer be covering the 49ers. Let me clarify. He mentioned resurfacing at another publication in the near future so he might be covering the 49ers, but he hasn't specified his next stop yet. I shot him a tweet about it so we'll see what he has to say.
Branch replaced Phil Barber who had briefly replaced Matt Maiocco when MM left for CSN Bay Area. Maiocco has been the big name among 49ers beat writers but Branch did some really impressive work when he took over the beat writer/blogging work at the Press Democrat. He, Maiocco, and Barrows all have differing personalities when it comes to how they cover the team. They all do a phenomenal job so it certainly hurts to lose a quality guy.
One interesting note from Branch's final post was the quality of writers that have come through the 49ers beat at the Press Democrat. Among others, Mike Silver (Sports Illustrated, Yahoo!), Mark Fainaru-Wada (ESPN), Brian Murphy (KNBR), Kevin Lynch (San Francisco Chronicle) and Matt Maiocco (CSN Bay Area) all came through the PD. That's quite the who's who of interesting talent.
Best of luck to Eric in the future.