49ers notes: Better this year, Hampton's goals, mustaches etc.


49ers notes: Better this year, Hampton's goals, mustaches etc.

SANTA CLARA -- Through one-half of the regular season games last year, the 49ers proudly held a 7-1 record and a commanding lead over their lesser NFC West opponents, who authored a combined five total wins through the ninth week in 2011.

This year, things are different. The 49ers can still be proud of the 6-2 mark they posted in the clubhouse at the turn, but the rest of the division is markedly improved. San Francisco has a 1.5-game lead over the second-place Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals are not far behind.

Though their stranglehold on the division isn't as strong as a year prior, quarterback Alex Smith recently told PFT Live that he believes this year's team is "way better" than last years. Do his teammates feel the same?

Mike Iupati:
"This team is better. We're in the second year of the same playbook, you know. We have weapons. Everything is better."

Jonathan Goodwin:
"It's different every year, man. I think we're better as a team this year. I just think as far as the games we lost, we had some missed assignments so that played a part in us going 6-2. Every year is different, we just lost more games at this point than we did last year.

"I do (think this team is better). I just think everybody has gotten acclimated and used to each other. We've had a year under our belt to get used to playing under this system. So everything is clicking a lot better."

Anthony Davis:
"Different, man. Different year, different team."

Delanie Walker:
"I feel like we're the same team. We just know the playbook a little more. And we're starting to gel. Everybody probably feels a little bit better together this year, just cause we gelled and we know what we can do. This team (would win head-to-head)."

The numbers don't lie. The 49ers offense is on pace for more first downs, yards and touchdowns. Meanwhile their defense has opponents on track to fare worse than last season in those key categories, impressive considering the historic defense the 49ers played a year ago.

RELATED: 49ers stats

Dan Kilgore suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff of the 49ers' Monday night win over the Cardinals on Oct. 26.

Ten days later at practice Tuesday, Kilgore was still sporting the black no-contact jersey.

"We're just taking it slow," Kilgore said. "Not exactly sure what the rules are, but with us taking last week off, we did it just in case."

He sounded as if he was plenty ready for contact.

"I feel good. I'm ready to go."

Jewel Hampton participated in his first 49ers practice Tuesday, wearing No. 33.

RELATED: Hampton returns to practice

The undrafted rookie underwent offseason foot surgery after he suffered an injury midway through his final season with Southern Illinois. He played through the pain en route to 1,121 yards, 17 touchdowns and a three-year deal with the 49ers.

Hampton will have a tough time working his way into San Francisco's backfield that is already crowded enough to keep Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James inactive. But Hampton wasn't shy about his goals.

"I'm all about being on the active roster," Hampton said. "There's no doubt about that. I feel like I can contribute to the team."

What does he see as his strengths?

"Be physical and stay in attack mode at all time."

If the 49ers do not activate him after a three-week window, beginning Tuesday, he would finish the season on the Non-Football Injury list.

Joe Staley is sporting a mustache. But it's no ordinary mustache, it's a "Movember" mustache.

"Movember," if you didn't already know, is an American movement in which males sport mustaches in an effort to raise awareness for men's health issues.

From the official website:
"During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of mens faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo's, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men's health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives."Staley announced his participation with a picture on Nov. 1:

Hello. Mustache time. creepstreet instagr.ampRfyl9kIQWU Joe Staley (@jstaley74) November 1, 2012

He's working on recruiting a few more 49ers for the movement. Brandon Jacbos was hesitant, but Leonard Davis seems to have taken the bait:

Can't believe it,...but I'm supporting Movember. twitter.comTHELEONARDDAVI Leonard Davis (@THELEONARDDAVIS) November 2, 2012

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

After a couple of practices and one exhibition game against the Denver Broncos, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again came to the realization things are often not as good or bad as they seem.

That was his takeaway a day after the 49ers provided the Broncos with five giveaways to go along with 11 penalties in a 33-14 loss at Levi’s Stadium.

“But when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt,” Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “When you look at each situation, especially when you talk about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play, and if you have one guy off a little bit, it breaks down.”

A couple of passes that could have been caught, a ball that slipped out of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s hand and some other correctable errors gives Shanahan reason to be optimistic.

When he spoke to the media on Saturday night after the game, Shanahan was clearly upset with how his 90-man team performed. He was asked a day later if it was a relief to watch the film and come to the conclusion that not everything was a total disaster.

“It’s not really relief,” Shanahan quipped. “It’s kind of my life story.

“We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys (the media) after practice. But I’m pretty pissed after practice when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect. That’s why most of the time I’m not that happy.”

Shanahan said he expects everyone in the organization to hold themselves to the same high standard.

“Whenever you go out to a game like that, you want to win, you want to play well,” he said. “And you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. If they’re not, that’s when I would be worried.”

Shanahan said he had the opposite feeling after the practice Wednesday against the Broncos that looked like a decisive win for the 49ers. Upon review, Shanahan said he felt there was still a lot of room for improvement.

“I thought things seemed real good at practice our first day versus them,” he said. “Then, I go in and watch the film and it was good but not quite as good as I felt when I was out there.”

49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon


49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon

The 49ers could get their presumptive starting free safety back on the field this week.

Jimmie Ward, who has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since sustaining a hamstring injury during a conditioning test on the eve of training camp, will go through strenuous workouts Monday and Tuesday.

Ward could be cleared to return to practice as early as Wednesday, when the club is scheduled to hold its next practice.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will will pace him through a football-related workout on Monday and Tuesday.

"Hopefully, we'll get him ready to go by Wednesday," Shanahan said.

The 49ers envision Ward, a first-round draft pick in 2014, as a major contributor in the team’s new 4-3 scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. With strong safety Eric Reid playing close to the line of scrimmage, Ward will play the deep safety – a role that Earl Thomas has played for the Seahawks.

In Ward’s absence, undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games and appears to have played his way into solid position for a spot on the 53-man roster.

"Lorenzo has done a good job," Shanahan said. "I think a couple of times he's ran around and been a ballhawk for us and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he's been so aggressive. He's going to have to learn from those, but they never made him pay for those by going outside."

--The 49ers will have days off on Monday and Tuesday as they settle into their regular-season routine.

--Shanahan said he has been formulating ideas for the game plan against Carolina in Week 1 of the regular season. So as the 49ers play the exhibition games, they are mindful of not showing too much.

"I never get too far away from that," Shanahan said. "Everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season."

--Shanahan said he thought No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer "did a good job." He said the first throw intended for Vance McDonald over the middle was thrown a little late.

"Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads and went to the right spots," Shanahan said.

Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard also was on-point with his reads, Shanahan said.

--Eli Harold got the start Saturday night at outside linebacker position, as he competes with Ahmad Brooks for a job.

"I try to go off what I see in practice," Shanahan said. "You want to know who has more upside, things like that. Who's going to get better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But you also want to know, when it's all said and done, who is going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things I look at personally."

--Former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday. Shanahan never coached him, but he was obviously a big fan.

"I've personally met Anquan or talked to him before, but he has been one of my favorites of all time," Shanahan said. "I love Anquan. I don't know him at all, but I feel like I do because I've always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came into Florida State as a quarterback and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year.

"And I remember him coming into the league and people thinking he wouldn't be as great because he didn't have a fast 40 time. And watching him play over the years. That's my definition of a football player. He's as violent of a receiver as there is, and I've always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I feel lineman have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs, if you're not tough, you're not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. And when you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls."