49ers key matchup No. 1: Smith vs. Manning

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49ers key matchup No. 1: Smith vs. Manning

This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Giants matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX-TV), at Candlestick Park.

Matchup No. 3: Justin Smith vs. Kevin Boothe
Matchup No.2: Joe Staley vs. Jason Pierre-Paul
49ers QB Alex Smith vs. Giants QB Eli ManningTale of the tape
Smith (11): 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, eighth season, Utah
Manning (10): 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, ninth season, MississippiThere are a lot of different ways to spin the key matchup in this game.It could be 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers against the New York Giants' top receiver, Victor Cruz. It could be Michael Crabtree, who was held to one reception for 3 yards in the NFC championship game, against left cornerback Corey Webster.We've examined key matchups when comes to pass protection, too. But it all boils down to is this: Alex Smith vs. Eli Manning.The quarterback who makes the most plays and does not commit the critical mistake will give his team the best chance of winning this matchup of NFC heavyweights.The 49ers' passing game struggled during the Giants' 20-17 overtime victory in the NFC championship game. Smith competed just 12 of 26 pass attempts for 196 yards. The 49ers converted just one of 13 third-down opportunities.That failure to connect on plays on the outside inspired the 49ers to sign free-agent wide receivers Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, as well as select A.J. Jenkins in the first round of the draft.The 49ers' offense looks much-improved through five games. The 49ers are coming off a 621-yard performance against the Buffalo Bills to become the first team in NFL history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 300 yards in the same game."Both teams are different," Smith said. "Even looking at last year's tape of us, a lot of faces have changed here and there and that's the nature of this game. Can't get caught up too much in last year and what was going on. I think both of us are different."Smith enters the game as the NFL's leading passer with a 108.7 efficiency rating. Manning, who has two Super Bowl rings to his credit, is No. 9 at 96.0.
Manning has thrown for nearly 100 more yards per game Smith. Manning has accounted for 10 touchdowns and five interceptions, while Smith has tossed eight touchdowns and just one interception.In the NFC championship game, Manning took a beating. He was sacked six times and was knocked down 12 times. Yet, he kept getting up and made the plays to enable the Giants to pull out the victory and advance to a Super Bowl title. He completed 32 of 58 passing attempts for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
"He's a good quarterback," 49ers All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Smith said. "A lot of people don't give him the respect he deserves. I think he's definitely one of the top three, four quarterbacks in the league. it's going to be a tough game."

Lynch: Armstead, Buckner fit 49ers' new defensive scheme

Lynch: Armstead, Buckner fit 49ers' new defensive scheme

Trent Baalke’s final two seasons as 49ers general manager brought defensive linemen to the organization with the club’s top draft picks.

And, for that, new 49ers general manager John Lynch said he is grateful.

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner may have been chosen when the 49ers’ base defensive alignment was a 3-4, but Lynch said the two Oregon products are versatile enough to thrive in the new system defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will install.

“I think they fit very well,” Lynch said Tuesday on 95.7 The Game. “And that’s one thing I think I want to make sure (to say) because I really believe it, I think Trent Baalke did a great job of getting guys that, yes, they were picked for one system, but I think they transition very well to our system.”

Buckner appeared in 15 games as a rookie after Baalke selected him with the No. 7 overall pick. He ranked second in the NFL among defensive tackles with 73 tackles and was fourth among rookies with six sacks. Buckner was chosen to the All-Rookie team by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Armstead, selected with the 17th overall pick in 2015, recorded 2.5 sacks in eight games last season. He sustained a shoulder injury during training camp and finally underwent season-ending surgery in November.

Buckner and Armstead may be asked to play different positions but they will also be taught to play a different styles this season, Lynch promised.

“They were very much in a read-and-react posture last year,” Lynch said. “I’m excited to cut them loose. When we say ‘aggressive,’ it doesn’t mean that we’re blitzing every play. It means we’re getting off the ball. At the snap, we’re taking the fight to them. And I think these are guys who fit what we’re going to do very well. We’re excited about it.”

The 49ers last week hired defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina, who played 17 seasons in the league. Zgonina served the past four seasons as an assistant defensive line coach with Houston (2013-15) and the New York Giants (2016).

“They’re going to be coached hard,” Lynch said of the 49ers’ defensive linemen. “They’re going to be asked to sprint to the football, wherever it is. That doesn’t just come natural. Those are habits that you have to pick up.”

Every defensive player currently on the 49ers’ roster was brought to the organization to play in a 3-4 defense. Lynch downplayed the practical importance of the team’s defensive label because of extra defensive backs being deployed against three-receiver personnel groupings.

“Seventy- to 75-percent of this game now is played in sub or nickel,” Lynch said. “At that point, that’s kind of out the door. It’s can you stop the run and, then, can you go get the guy throwing the football and bring him down? We think both of those guys have great potential to do that.”

Source: Benton agrees to become 49ers' O-line coach

Source: Benton agrees to become 49ers' O-line coach

New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan secured one of the major remaining pieces of his coaching staff.

John Benton, 53, who coached the offensive line during Shanahan’s four seasons with the Houston Texans, on Tuesday agreed to terms to join the 49ers’ staff, a source told CSNBayArea.com.

The Broncos allowed Benton get out of his contract just one month after he joined Vance Joseph’s new staff as Denver’s assistant offensive line coach under line coach Jeff Davidson.

Benton served last season as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).

Shanahan’s first job as an NFL offensive coordinator was in 2008 and ’09 with the Texans under head coach Gary Kubiak.

Benton was the line coach during those seasons. Shanahan and Benton spent a total of four seasons together on Houston’s offensive staff. Shanahan coached wide receivers in 2006 and quarterbacks in 2007.

Benton was reportedly finalizing his contract on Monday, according to a report from Alex Marvez of The Sporting News and SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Benton takes over for Pat Flaherty, who served as offensive line coach under Chip Kelly. Flaherty is the new Jaguars offfensive line coach. Chris Foerster coached the 49ers' offensive line in 2015 under Jim Tomsula, and Mike Solari served as the O-line coach under Jim Harbaugh.