49ers notes: Aldon Smith helped by undrafted Dobbs


49ers notes: Aldon Smith helped by undrafted Dobbs

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Rookie Aldon Smith, the No. 7 overall pick, ended the 49ers' exhibition season strong Thursday might against the San Diego Chargers.But Smith could not have done it without the efforts of undrafted rookie defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs, who finished the game with no tackles and no stats of any kind. (Although replays showed Dobbs was responsible for dislodging the ball from Chargers running back Jordan Todman on a second-quarter fumble.)Despite his lack of mention on the stat sheet, Dobbs had another outstanding game and is likely to have solidified his spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster.Meanwhile, Smith was credited with 2 12 sacks, a team-high seven tackles and four quarterback pressures.REWIND: 49ers progress in exhibition finale
Smith's first sack was recorded after Dobbs shoved Chargers left guard Colin Baxter into Scott Tolzien, causing the quarterback to stumble. Smith swooped in to finish off Tolzien for an 8-yard loss. Dobbs and Smith worked a stunt in which Smith got past Baxter for his second sack. Dobbs was also on the action when Smith and Antwan Applewhite shared a sack in the third quarter."We were both able to get really good pressure," Smith said of Dobbs. "He got pressure inside and I got pressure outside. We're able to meet back there and make some plays."Aldon Smith has yet to work into a starting role. He currently is listed as the backup to veteran Parys Haralson at right outside linebacker.ALEX SMITH TO START: In case you missed it late Thursday, coach Jim Harbaugh completed the formality of declaring Alex Smith as the 49ers' starting quarterback for the regular season.Smith completed 8 of 10 passes for 45 yards, as the 49ers got into the end zone twice in his two series against the Chargers' first-team defense. Smith, however, did not throw a touchdown in the exhibition season.While Smith was on the field, the 49ers converted third-and-3 situations four times. Twice they kept the chains moving with run plays, and twice Smith completed short passes for the necessary yardage.Rookie Colin Kaepernick continued to struggle, as he completed just 3 of 7 passes for 36 yards and two interceptions. Kaepernick threw five interceptions without a touchdown in the exhibition season.HUNTER IMPRESSES: Rookie running back Kendall Hunter is leading the NFL in exhibition rushing with just one game (Raiders vs. Seattle) remaining. Hunter had 231 yards rushing on 35 attempts for a 6.6 average.He appears to have won the job as Frank Gore's backup over Anthony Dixon. Said Harbaugh of Hunter, "He's definitely playing well enough to be the No. 2 back."FAMILY REUNION: Xavier Omon, the fourth-string 49ers running back, had a night he'll never forget. Prior to the game, he met a half-brother he did not know existed until last winter.The half-brother is Ogemdi Nwagbuo. Omon and Nwagbuo share the same biological father, Chris Nwagbuo, who passed away in 2004. They met before the game. And in the fourth quarter on Omon's second carry, they met again when Nwagbuo tackled Omon for a 1-yard gain.Afterward, the embraced once again on the field before entering their respective locker rooms. It was quite a scene. Omon is 5-foot-11, 227 pouds. Nwagbuo is 6-4, 312.
"It was good," Omon said. "It felt normal."BUBBLE BEAUTS: The 49ers have until Saturday at 1 p.m. to delete 27 players from their roster. The 49ers will place tight end Nate Byham on injured reserve. Linebacker Keaton Kristick, who was carted off Thursday night with an apparent left ankle injury, is also a candidate for injured reserve.Harbaugh said he will try to meet with as many of the released players as possible."The choices have to be made," Harbaugh said. "I thought a lot guys made things more difficult tonight. That's the way you want it. There are going to be a lot of people who acquitted themselves really well, and they might not be on the team. I was pleased to see that. I think that showed a lot of fortitude on their parts. I was really proud of our guys."Linebacker Alex Joseph is among the long-shot player who had a standout game. Joseph, a first-year player from Temple who spent time last year on the 49ers' practice squad, recorded three tackles, forced a fumble and had a huge tackle on special teams."He played really well, physical real good football game," Harbaugh said. "He makes it difficult."SITTING OUT: Receiver Michael Crabtree (foot), cornerback Shawntae Spencer (hamstring) and safety Reggie Smith (knee) did not travel to San Diego for the game. Safety Dashon Goldson made the trip but was declared out just before game time with an undisclosed injury.RELATED: 49ers mailbag -- Shawntae Spencer's spot is not slam dunk
CULLIVER'S TRAVELS: Rookie cornerback Chris Culliver, the 49ers' third-round pick, couldn't even remember the last time he felt as if an opposition was targeting him.But it happened Thursday night, when Tolzien went after Culliver repeatedly. Fifth-year receiver Laurent Robinson caught passes of 26 and 37 yards against Culliver in the third quarter.But Culliver made amends when he had tight coverage on a 35-yard pass intended for receiver Seyi Ajirotutu. Cullver made the interception in the end zone."I'm a rookie," Culliver said. "I know they're doing to come at me. I just had to stay in tune to the game and understand what's going on and make some plays, not giving up the deep ball. And if anyone catches the ball, just make the tackle right there on the spot."Culliver will have a spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster, but he might not have much of a role as a rookie. After all, Culliver is learning a new position."I played safety most of my career, and playing safety and corner are different," he said. "I'm learning more and more how to be a corner and how to take calls from other people and dial in. It's different technique."LEE HEALTHY: Andy Lee, who sustained a right hip-pointer in the 49ers' second exhibition game, returned to action Thursday night with just two punts. He hit a 48-yard punt on his first try, but later shanked a 24-yard punt.

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”


Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”