49ers Mailbag: Spencer is No. 4 CB

555326.jpg

49ers Mailbag: Spencer is No. 4 CB

Veteran cornerback Shawntae Spencer entered camp atop the 49ers' depth chart, having lined up as a starter for every game the previous two seasons.But Spencer sustained a hamstring strain early in camp. He came back too soon, aggravated the injury and lost even more time due to the injury.When Spencer's hamstring finally healed, he sustained a turf-toe injury Oct. 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles. And that's been that for Spencer's playing time this season.On Sunday, though, Spencer was back on the field. He saw three snaps on defense in the 49ers' dime defense, lined up against Larry Fitzgerald in the 21-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.Now, Spencer has moved ahead of second-year cornerback Tramaine Brock as the 49ers' No. 4 cornerback behind starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, and third cornerback Chris Culliver.Let's go to the 49ers Mailbag to field some questions submitted on my Facebook page at www.Facebook.comMaioccoCSN
Will Shawntae Spencer play? (Tay Porter)
He is likely to see some action Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, because the Steelers like to use three- and four-receiver formations. However, the Steelers might employ fewer of those sets with Emmanuel Sanders out with a foot injury. I don't envision Spencer supplanting any of the 49ers' top three cornerbacks, but he might get a handful of snaps and he's on standby for depth purposes.Is Aldon Smith expected to have a big game since Big Ben is the leagues most sacked QB? (Sammy Araiza)
Smith, who ranks second among NFL rookies with 10.5 sacks, will certainly get his chances against Ben Roethlisberger (if Roethlisberger plays). The reason is because the 49ers figure to be in their nickel defense for a large portion of the game to defend against the Steelers' multi-receiver sets.Why isn't Vernon Davis being used in the Red Zone more? (Elijah Rangel)
The main reason is because defenses have focused on Davis near the goal line. Quarterback Alex Smith is not forcing the ball to anybody deep in the red zone, so if he sees double coverage he's going to look to get the ball to somebody else.How will the 49ers OL slow down Pitts blitz packages? (Nate Keyser)
It's not just the offensive line, of course. This is on the quarterback, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers, too. When a defense blitzes more pass-rushers than a team has blockers, that means there are going to be chances to make plays for the offense. Smith has to recognize the blitzes with his pre-snap reads, and he has to get rid of the ball quickly and decisively. Also, the offensive line has to do a better job of communicating the line calls. That was an issue in Baltimore and Arizona, where it was difficult for them to hear due to the noise from the road crowds. That's why the 49ers are emphasizing to their fans to remain quiet when the 49ers' offense is on the field.What's the time table for Josh Morgan? (Cesar Garcia)
As he recently told CSNBayArea.com, Morgan expects to start running soon. Of course, he is out for the remainder of this season, including playoffs with the fracture just above the ankle. Once a player is placed on injured reserve, he is ineligible to return until the following season. Morgan said he expects to be ready to take part in the entire offseason program.Did we fix the red zone problems? (Sean Sp Pierce)
You can see for yourself on Monday night . . . and beyond.

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

C.J. BEATHARD
Position: Quarterback
College: Iowa
Height: 6-2
Weight: 219
Selection: Third round, No. 104 overall

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers traded back into the end of the third round to select a quarterback to join Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the 49ers' roster.

General manager John Lynch's fourth trade of the draft netted the team the grandson of legendary NFL personnel man Bobby Beathard. His grandson, C.J., joins the 49ers after a four-year career at Iowa. Beathard completed 58.6 percent of his passes last season with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Beathard was not generally expected to be chosen within the first two days of the draft. He was the sixth quarterback selected, falling behind Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Deshone Kizer and Davis Webb.

"They won't regret it," Beathard said on a conference call with the Bay Area media.

The 49ers traded up with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had the No. 104 pick, and called the 49ers to see if they were interested in a trade. After some consideration, the 49ers decided to move up from No. 109 while also giving the Vikings a seventh-round pick at No. 219.

"Might he have been there at 109? That’s what we had to weigh," 49ers John Lynch said. "But at the end of the day, we felt like it was worth it to be able to go to bed knowing that we had a player that we liked and want the opportunity develop at the quarterback position."

And that's what coach Kyle Shanahan plans on doing. He said Beathard is not coming to the team this season to compete with Hoyer for the starting job.

"We’re bringing him in here to develop him and give him a chance, but just like any other position, everyone competes," Shanahan said. "Brian is our starting quarterback and, right now, Matt Barkley is our second. And I look at him to come in and be our third with us only having three on the roster.

"By no means did we come into this draft thinking we’re going to get a guy to compete with Brian."

Shanahan said Beathard and Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman were the two quarterbacks in the draft who ran offenses in college most similar to the offense he will install with the 49ers.

"One thing that helps is being able to see guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play," Shanahan said. "It helps being at Iowa and watching the system he’s in. It’s easier to see to watch him over the years. He’s a three-year starter. He’s led his team to a bunch of wins, especially in 2015 when they had a better team and he played unbelievable."

As a junior at Iowa, Beathard completed 61.6 percent of his pass attempts for 2,809 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. 

"He’s a leader. He’s tough. He processes very well," Shanahan said. "He's extremely accurate and he lives and dies football."

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

AHKELLO WITHERSPOON
Position: Cornerback
College: Colorado
Height: 6-2 3/4
Weight: 193
Selection: Third round, No. 66 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a Sacramento native, in the third round of the NFL draft with the No. 66 overall pick.

“Being close to home is an incredible opportunity, as well as the type of defense they play -- press man, up in your face,” Witherspoon said. “When I came in for a visit, they were asking me if I’ve adopted that role and if I’d be willing to continue that. And I said, ‘Absolutely.’

“It’s an opportunity to play for such a great organization, close to home, with such a savvy defensive mentality. I think it’s going to be a great place for me.”

The 49ers were also scheduled to have the next pick, but traded the selection at No. 67 for the New Orleans Saints’ second-round pick in next year’s draft, as well as a seventh-round selection (No. 229 overall) this year. The 49ers now have 10 picks in next year’s draft.

The Saints used that pick at No. 67 to select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

Witherspoon began his college career at Sacramento City. He played his final three college seasons at Colorado. He started 12 games last season and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Witherspoon led the nation with 22 pass breakups. He recorded one interception -- a game-saving pick in the end zone to preserve a 41-38 victory over Oregon. A pre-med student majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, he said he aspires to be a doctor after his football career.

But Witherspoon said he is committed to football and promised the 49ers during his visit to Santa Clara that he will make huge strides over the next few years as he continues to develop as a player.