49ers exhibition opener goes mostly as planned


49ers exhibition opener goes mostly as planned

SANTA CLARA -- Outside linebacker Aldon Smith exited the 49ers' locker room Friday night at Candlestick Park with the assistance of two canes.It was an odd sight to see the second-year player hobble out of the stadium in unconventional fashion, but 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh offered an encouraging outlook."The preliminary report looks like we'll be all right," Harbaugh said. "We dodged a bullet there."Smith sustained a bruise hip, the 49ers announced. He sustained the injury late in the first quarter. After spending several minutes on the sideline, Smith was taken to the locker room on a cart.All in all, the 49ers' exhibition opener could not have gone much better. Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick led the team on touchdown drives the first times they took the field on a windy night at Candlestick Park in the 49ers' 17-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.RECAP: 49ers 17, Vikings 6
"Definitely pleased to have a game under our belt," Harbaugh said. "(There's) a lot of data to study. It's good to have a foundation."The gusty conditions made for a difficult assignment for the passing games. But while the Vikings struggled, the 49ers completed better than two-thirds of their passing attempts.Vikings quarterbacks Christian Ponder, Joe Webb and McLeod Bethel-Thompson combined to complete just 11-of-27 passes. The 49ers' four quarterbacks -- Smith, Kaepernick, Scott Tolzien and Josh Johnson -- teamed up for 20-of-29 passing for 170 yards and a touchdown.Smith completed all three of his pass attempts for 16 yards, including a four-yard touchdown pass to Brett Swain to cap the opening drive.Kaepernick completed 5-of-9 passes for 40 yards, but also rushed three times for 92 yards with a 78-yard touchdown run.Tolzien was the third quarterback to play, and he came through with 10 completions on 13 attempts for 84 yards. Johnson completed 2-of-4 attempts for 30 yards."All the quarterbacks really played well," Harbaugh said.The toughest task of the evening might have belonged to the punt returners. Kyle Williams, whose season ended last January in despair with two turnovers in the NFC championship game, handled three punts flawlessly."It was kind of swirling, but that's what Candlestick gives you," Williams said. "Every time you come here, you know you're going to be faced with some kind of weather. I think we did OK, as far as everyone fielding punts and kickoffs. With the overall ball flight, everybody was reading it pretty well."I couldn't wait to get back there. Ever since last year, I couldn't wait to get back there ... It was really fun to get back out there ... I was calm. I've been waiting for this for a long time. I couldn't wait to get it going."The 49ers might have given some glimpse of what to expect from their offense on the very first drive. The 49ers did not suit up running back Frank Gore or receiver Mario Manningham, decision Harbaugh said he made just prior to the game. (Defensive lineman Justin Smith also was given the night off.)On the first drive, Kendall Hunter, Rock Cartwright and Brandon Jacobs carried the ball. The 49ers rolled up 260 yards rushing on 42 attempts.The 49ers also shuttled a bunch of receivers into the game early. Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn, Randy Moss, Wiliams and Swain each saw playing time on the 49ers' game-opening drive."That's the way we've been looking at it since the start of training camp," Harbaugh said. "And then we'll find the best combinations."Crabtree, playing in his first NFL exhibition game, caught one pass for three yards. Moss played a handful of snaps but did not see any passes come his way.Jacobs had a strong debut with the 49ers, as he carried four times for 31 yards. He picked up first downs on each of his rushing attempts, including a fourth-and-one conversion on the opening drive."I run and read what I to have to read and run," Jacobs said. "Great lineman, they do what they're supposed to do, they move people out of the way, they're big strong guys."Smith's one series of action lasted 12 plays, and provided him with just about everything he wanted to accomplish in the first tune-up game."You want to get off to a good start," Smith said. "We didn't know how many plays we were going to play. You just want to put something good together. We read the ball great, made the big fourth-down conversion. Swain made a great play down there at the goal line."Two plays after Smith left the game, his replacement provided the play of the game.Working in a no-huddle offense, Kaepernick faked an inside handoff to LaMichael James out of the shotgun formation. Then, Kaepernick saw nothing but open real estate ahead of him, as Swain blocked cornerback Chris Cook on the right edge."Our offensive line did a great job of blocking the box," Kaepernick said. "Our receiver blocked the corner, and our tight end got to the safety, and that left me with a lot of green grass."I felt him (Cook) coming behind me and I wanted to make sure I didn't get caught."It was a familiar play for Kaepernick, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his final three seasons at Nevada."I felt very much at home when I saw that open up," Kaepernick said. "I had a flashback real quick."The 49ers' defense had its way throughout the game, limiting the Vikings to just 208 yards of total offense and two field goals. Reserve outside linebacker Eric Bakhtiari recorded two sacks, and cornerback Perrish Cox had an interception late in the game.The 49ers got to the Vikings' one-yard line at the two-minute warning. But Harbaugh said it was best to be prudent and avoid the possibility of getting anybody hurt when it was best to just run out the clock.

49ers snap count: Hyde's hip injury does not slow him down

49ers snap count: Hyde's hip injury does not slow him down

SANTA CLARA – Running back Carlos Hyde left the game Thursday night in the first quarter with a hip injury. At the time, the 49ers announced he was questionable to return.

But there was nothing questionable about Hyde’s effort, as he was in and out of the lineup in the first half before playing almost all of the second half. Hyde played 61 of the 49ers’ 82 offensive plays (including snaps nullified by penalties) in the team’s 41-39 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

“I knew that it was going to be tough coming into this game,” said Hyde, who gained 84 difficult yards and two touchdowns on 25 rushing attempts.

“I didn’t expect anything less from the Rams. They always play us tough, especially in the run game. I knew that it would take the extra effort to get 1 or 2 yards extra to move the chains.”

Afterward Hyde appeared to be fine though he got a lot of attention from the 49ers’ medical staff early in the game. He exited after his third rushing attempt, landing on his left side on back-to-back plays on which he gained 20 and 3 yards.

“I landed weird on my oblique,” Hyde said. “And it got sore on me. But as I kept playing, the better it felt. When I went to the sideline, that’s when I felt it. When I was in the game, I didn’t feel it at all.”

Hyde said the injury was a bruise and not any kind of muscle strain.

Four of Hyde’s teammates, however, did not return after sustaining injuries:

--Fullback Kyle Juszczyk sustained what the club initially described as a neck injury, as he appeared shaken up after back-to-back plays on which he blocked at the goal line for Hyde in the third quarter. He was later diagnosed with a concussion.

--Safety Jaquiski Tartt was injured late in the third quarter after combining for a tackle on Rams receiver Robert Woods 25 yards down the field. His teammate, defensive lineman Earl Mitchell, inadvertently kneed Tartt in the head as he pursued the play. Tartt was immediately taken to the locker room and diagnosed with a concussion.

--Backup linebacker and core special-teams player Brock Coyle was also diagnosed with a concussion in the second half. Coyle, Juszczyk and Tartt are now in the NFL concussion protocol. The 49ers return to action Oct. 1 at the Arizona Cardinals.

--Defensive lineman Tank Carradine had a difficult time walking on his own as he left the stadium with an orthopedic boot on his right foot. Carradine sustained an ankle sprain early in the fourth quarter and did not return to action.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

(82 plays)
Quarterback – Brian Hoyer 82
Running back – Carlos Hyde 61, Kyle Juszczyk 26, Matt Breida 16, Raheem Mostert 8
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 69, Marquise Goodwin 59, Trent Taylor 39, Aldrick Robinson 27, Victor Bolden 2
Tight end – George Kittle 39, Garrett Celek 36, Logan Paulsen 27
Offensive line – Joe Staley 82, Trent Brown 82, Daniel Kilgore 82, Brandon Fusco 82, Laken Tomlinson 82, Garry Gilliam 1

(67 plays)
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 61, Arik Armstead 55, Earl Mitchell 50, Solomon Thomas 38, Tank Carradine 29, Aaron Lynch 14, D.J. Jones 13, Elvis Dumervil 10
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 67, Ray-Ray Armstrong 66, Eli Harold 26, Brock Coyle 2
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 65, Rashard Robinson 65, K’Waun Williams 42
Safety – Jimmie Ward 67, Jaquiski Tartt 48, Lorenzo Jerome 19

(34 plays)
Dekoda Watson 28, Elijah Lee 21, Celek 21, Mostert 21, Adrian Colbert 20, Asa Jackson 19, Coyle 18, Harold 18, Jerome 18, Bolden 17, Bradley Pinion 16, Paulsen 16, Johnson 14, Breida 11, Kyle Nelson 9, R.Robinson 9, Robbie Gould 7, Buckner 7, Armstead 7, Mitchell 7, Tartt 7, Ward 7, Zane Beadles 6, Staley 6, Kilgore, 6, Fusco 6, Brown 6, Carradine 6, Gilliam 6, Armstrong 3, A.Robinson 3, Bowman 2, Jones 2, Juszczyk 2, Taylor 1, Thomas 1

QB C.J. Beathard

WR Kendrick Bourne
CB Ahkello Witherspoon
DB Eric Reid (knee)
LB Pita Taumoepenu
LB Reuben Foster (ankle)
OL Erik Magnuson
DL Xavier Cooper

The three things you need to know from 49ers' 41-39 loss vs Rams

The three things you need to know from 49ers' 41-39 loss vs Rams

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 41-39 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3 on Thursday night:

1. The offense is alive
It was a rough start for quarterback Brian Hoyer. His interception on the first pass attempt of the game was exactly how the team did not want to see him bounce back from a horrendous offensive showing against Seattle.

But Hoyer rebounded with a more-than respectable performance after his interception led to the Rams' first touchdown -- just 12 seconds into the game. Hoyer completed 23 of 37 for 332 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Still, everything is not running smoothly with the passing game. The receivers do not always seem to be running crisp routes. Hoyer is not putting his passes in great spots. And the receivers have far too many drops.

But with Carlos Hyde running hard – 84 yards and two touchdowns on 25 attempts – and the passing game showing some signs of life, the offense under coach Kyle Shanahan should get better and better.

2. Defensive letdown
The defense is the side of the ball that was supposed to carry the 49ers. And after solid showings in the first two games of the season, the defense failed to hold up its end of the bargain against a vastly improved Rams offense.

Again, the 49ers did not supply much of a pass rush. The run defense was pretty good for most of the game, but Jared Goff picked the 49ers apart because he has time to wait for his talented receiving corps of Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins to get open against the 49ers’ over-stressed secondary.

Third downs have killed the 49ers’ defense. The unit simply cannot get off the field in crucial situations. The Rams were successful on eight of their 12 plays on third downs. The defense has to find a level of consistency. And they are clearly missing rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, who has not played since the opening 11 plays of the opener due to a high ankle sprain.

3. Time to recover
The 49ers have a long week, and that comes at a good time with fullback Kyle Juszczyk, safety Jaquiski Tartt and linebacker Brock Coyle in the NFL’s concussion protocol after sustaining injuries in the second half.

Juszczyk appeared to be shaken up when he went head-to-head with Rams safety Mark Barron as a lead blocker on a third-down run play for Hyde. He was slow to get up but remained on the field for the fourth-down play. He made a block on Hyde’s 1-yard touchdown run, and again was slow to get up. He did not return to action due to a concussion.

Defensive lineman Tank Carradine sustained a right ankle sprain early in the fourth quarter and did not return. He left the locker room walking slowly while wearing an orthopedic boot after the game.

The 49ers return to action Oct. 1 at the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers must get some of their players back in order to have any hope of avoiding an 0-4 start, including getting swept in their first round through the NFC West.