49ers notes: Aldon Smith leads solid defensive effort


49ers notes: Aldon Smith leads solid defensive effort

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
NEW ORLEANS -- The offense sputtered and special teams were a disaster. But the 49ers' defense played relatively well in the exhibition opener Friday night against the New Orleans Saints.The 49ers allowed just one sustained drive in the 24-3 loss. Most impressive, the 49ers did not allow quarterback Drew Brees to record a first down in his three series leading the Saints' first-team offense."I think the whole front seven played extremely well," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We were good in the secondary and the coverage was tight. I was pleased with the way our defense played."Rookie Aldon Smith saw significant action at right outside linebacker and recorded five tackles to tie with linebacker Larry Grant and safety C.J. Spillman for team-high honors. Smith was credited with the 49ers' only sack of the game.RECAP: 49ers bullied by Saints 24-3 in exhibition debut
"I think he flashed a few times and set the edge and use his long arms to make some tackles," Harbaugh said. Because of injuries, receivers Michael Crabtree, Dominique Zeigler and Chris Hogan, tight ends Colin Cloherty and Nate Byham, linebacker Scott McKillop, and defensive backs Tarell Brown, Reggie Smith and Shawntae Spencer did not make the trip to New Orleans.Safety Dashon Goldson and nose tackle Isaac Sopoga did not suit up for the game. Quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, receivers Tyler Beiler and Joe Hastings, and offensive linemen Nick Howell and Chase Beeler did not play. Running back Frank Gore had four carries for 20 yards before he was removed from the action in the first quarter. Gore was making his first appearance since ending last season on injured reserve with a fractured right hip."I think running the ball I did well," Gore said. "I missed one block on a cut block. I know my running back coach (Tom Rathman) is going to get me on that one. But, I still have camp legs. On some of the runs, I felt like I could have done more, but I'm going to watch the film, go back to practice and keep trying to get better." Kicker David Akers, whom the 49ers signed to a three-year, 9 million contract to take over for Joe Nedney, had a career-long 57-yard field goal in 2003.Although it does not count in the records because it was an exhibition game, Akers drilled a 59-yarder at the end of the first half to account for the 49ers' only points of the game. Akers provided the highlight on special teams. Joseph Morgan blazed through the 49ers for a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Rookie Colin Jones has the first and best chance to tackle Morgan.Later, 49ers undrafted rookie Kenny Rowe broke through to block a punt. However, the play was nullified because the 49ers were penalized for having 12 men on the field.

Bowman guarantees he will not be odd-man out of 49ers' competition

Bowman guarantees he will not be odd-man out of 49ers' competition

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ biggest free-agent acquisition on defense and one of the team’s first-round draft picks play the same position.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he is holding off on thinking about how everything is going to play out this season at the linebacker position.

“I really try not to envision it too hard because I see a lot of good players there,” Shanahan said Tuesday during the 49ers’ first week of organized team activities.

The 49ers awarded weakside linebacker Malcolm Smith guaranteed money as an unrestricted free agent totaling approximately $12 million. Then, on the first day of the draft, the 49ers’ No. 3 rated prospect experienced a free fall, and the club traded into the back end of the first round to select him.

While Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster has been sidelined through the offseason program as he recovers from shoulder injury, he figures to compete with Smith for the starting job. Foster will also learn middle linebacker, where NaVorro Bowman has earned first-team All-Pro honors in four seasons.

Bowman looks to be nearly all the way back from a torn Achilles that limited him to just four games last season.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Shanahan said. “Seeing Bow out here and how healthy he’s been, knowing we’ve added some good free agents, and the way the draft worked out, having a linebacker we had ranked very highly fall to us at the end of the first round. We got a lot better pretty fast.

“When you ask me how it’s going to play out, I’m not sure. It’s a good problem to have. It’s something you’d like to have any every position. There’s going to be a very good player who’s not out there all the time. That’s not a bad thing. That makes the two guys who are out there go a lot harder and play better. It makes special teams better and it allowed you to survive injuries, which almost always happen.”

Bowman’s vision for the upcoming season includes him retaining his role in the middle of the 49ers’ defense.

"I won't be on the sideline, I'll tell you that right now,” Bowman said.

Bowman said he was not fazed with the 49ers selected Foster in the first round. Foster is likely considered the heir apparent to Bowman.

Shanahan called Bowman after the selection of Foster was made, but Bowman said he did not need to speak with the coach about why the selection was made.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Bowman said of the phone call, “but it was good to hear from him, to see that he had something to say or an idea of what he wanted to get across to me.

“But we haven’t talked about it. I did that on purpose. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll compete with anyone, whether he’s 21 or 35. It doesn’t matter. I’m a guy who’s going to give my best effort and have full confidence in my abilities to play this game. I know how much I study this game. I know how good I am and that’s what was going to bring back here.

“It’s always a competition. There’s always someone trying to take your spot. As a player, if you keep that in mind, you’ll always put the work in that’s needed.”


49ers reissue Bryant Young's number

49ers reissue Bryant Young's number

SANTA CLARA -- For the first time since Bryant Young retired following the 2007 season, the 49ers have placed his old number back into service.

Linebacker Dekoda Watson was issued No. 97 for the team’s organized team activities this week.

Young was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and eight-time winner of the Len Eshmont Award as the 49ers’ most inspirational and courageous player. No 49ers player has worn No. 97 in the past nine seasons or offseasons.

Rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas is now wearing No. 94 after being issued No. 96 for the rookie minicamp. Linebacker Reuben Foster is wearing No. 56.

Rookie defensive tackle D.J. Jones now wearing No. 96. Cornerback Rashard Robinson switched back to No. 33 after an earlier change to No. 26. Running back Kapri Bibbs is now 26. Rookie running back Joe Williams is No. 32 after wearing No. 33 at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles over the weekend. Veteran running back Tim Hightower is wearing No. 22.