49ers Mailbag: Rest comes with playoff bye


49ers Mailbag: Rest comes with playoff bye

The 49ers have clinched the NFC West, but that is not good enough.In order for the 49ers to have a reasonable chance to make a playoff run, they also have to clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs. That's why the 49ers can't afford to slow down in the regular season until they accomplish that goal.
Linebacker Patrick Willis is not expected to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals due to a right hamstring strain. But all other healthy 49ers players must be ready to go for the remainder of the regular season.
With an eye on the playoffs, we open today's 49ers Mailbag . . . Q: How will the Niners treat their starters the rest of the way? Full go or rest them? @aharris916
My response: The 49ers can't afford to rest anyone who might be able to help them win football games. The difference between finishing second and third in the NFC could make a huge difference during the playoffs.That is why the 49ers must play their best players until, at least, they have clinched the No. 2 seed in the NFC behind the Green Bay Packers.
If the 49ers finish with the No. 2 seed, they'll be able to rest their starters during the wild-card round of the playoffs. That's because the top two seeds in each conference is assured a first-round bye. That's the rest the 49ers are eyeing at this point.If the 49ers finish with the No. 2 seed, they can spend two weeks to get ready for a potential divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick.If the 49ers are the third seed, they would not get any break. They'd have to beat a wild-card team at Candlestick for the right to play the Saints at New Orleans. And that's a tall order. Q: If Saints win out and 49ers win out (except for Pitt), who gets the bye? @Arkhams_Razor
My response: If the 49ers and Saints finish with the same record, the 49ers would win any tie-breaker. That's because the 49ers would have a better conference record than the Saints.With four games remaining, the 49ers essentially have a two-game lead over the Saints for the No. 2 seed. Any combination of three 49ers victories and Saints defeats clinches the No. 2 seed for the 49ers.And, then, maybe they can talk about resting some of their players.

On eve of game vs Rams, 49ers only have two healthy safeties


On eve of game vs Rams, 49ers only have two healthy safeties

Starting safety Eric Reid will not be available for the 49ers on Thursday night, and the other presumptive starting safeties are questionable, too.

Jimmie Ward (hamstring) and Jaquiski Tartt (neck) went through limited practice Wednesdsay and are listed as questionable to face the Los Angeles Rams in front of a national television audience at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday night.

Ward and Tartt are expected to be available for the game, but the 49ers’ only healthy safeties are rookies Lorenzo Jerome and Adrian Colbert.

Reid is expected miss more than one game with a sprain of the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Reid is listed as out for Thursday’s game, along with linebacker Reuben Foster.

The 49ers medical staff no longer requires Foster to wear an orthopedic boot to stabilize his high right ankle sprain. General manager John Lynch said Foster is making good progress, but the 49ers are going to be cautious with him.

“The one thing I know is that freak athletes tend to be freak healers, as well,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He wanted to play the first week in the boot. That’s just the way he’s wired. We got to make sure he’s all the way healthy before we put him in, and we’re going to do that.”

Tight end George Kittle (hip) and linebacker Eli Harold (foot) are questionable for the game and are expected to play. Kittle sustained his injury during the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Harold was stepped on during a practice this week.

49ers injury report
LB Reuben Foster (ankle)
S Eric Reid (knee)
LB Eli Harold (foot)
TE George Kittle (hip)
S Jaquiski Tartt (neck)
S Jimmie Ward (hamstring)

Shanahan: 49ers need Hoyer to step up

Shanahan: 49ers need Hoyer to step up

The 49ers entered the regular season feeling as confident in quarterback Brian Hoyer as anyone on the offensive side of the ball.

But Hoyer has struggled through the worst back-to-back games of his 33-start NFL career. And the 49ers need him to get going, beginning Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams, coach Kyle Shanahan said.

"I want him to get his edge back. I want him to get his confidence,” Shanahan said Wednesday on the KNBR Morning Show.

“We need Brian to step up, and we need everyone around him to step up.”

In the first two games of the season, Hoyer has completed 62.9 percent of his 62 pass attempts but for just 292 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating is a lowly 60.7.

The 49ers have scored only four field goals and no touchdowns on their 21 offensive possessions in losses to Carolina and Seattle. Moreover, the 49ers have converted just four of 23 (17.4 percent) of their third-down attempts.

The quick turnaround on Thursday at Levi’s Stadium is something Hoyer said he welcomes this week -- of all weeks.

Last season with the Chicago Bears, Hoyer did not throw for fewer than 300 yards in any of his four full games. On Sunday in the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seahawks, he managed just 99 yards passing.

“It was a tough game and now we move on,” Hoyer said. “Thankfully, this week we get to move on really quick and move on to LA.

”You get to put the last one behind you and move on to the next.”