49ers notes: Hunter provides highlights

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49ers notes: Hunter provides highlights

Aug. 20, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rookie running back Kendall Hunter provided the highlights Saturday night for the 49ers, a team that struggled in every aspect of its exhibition opener a week earlier.Hunter, a fourth-round draft pick from Oklahoma State, tore loose on a 53-yard touchdown run that gave the 49ers their first touchdown in an eventual 17-3 victory over the Raiders at Candlestick Park.
Yes, Hunter's run was difficult to overlook. He picked up good blocks from an offensive line that redeemed itself nicely and showed a nice burst of speed en route to the end zone.
But the play that might have showed that he is ready for an opportunity to be a significant contributor as a backup for starter Frank Gore came on the next series. Hunter upended blitzing Raiders safety Matt Giordano to enable quarterback Colin Kaepernick to hit tight end Konrad Reuland for a 13-yard gain."You know you can't play unless you can do blitz pickup and you're able to block," Hunter said. "I have an advantage because I'm low to the ground. I'm short (5-foot-7). So as long as I get on them, I'll be all right."RECAP: Hunter runs 49ers past Raiders 17-3
Hunter finished the game with 105 yards and a touchdown on nine rushing attempts to lead an offense that rolled up 239 yards on the ground."It's the O-line," Hunter said. "They get all the credit." Gore rushed for 21 yards on four tries before calling it a night's work. Anthony Dixon gained 53 yards on 12 carries. In the second half, Xavier Omon, the 49ers' No. 4 running back, added 62 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts."Offensively, I think it started with our offensive line, which was reflected a lot by what the running backs did, with Frank Gore, Anthony Dixon, and Kendall Hunter, who had a big day," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Xavier Omon had (a big day) as well. I think it's a reflection on our offensive line, the way they handled the blitz pick-up I thought was a big improvement from last week."The 49ers, who were sacked six times in the opener against the Saints, were sacked twice by the Raiders. The 49ers gained 402 total yards, while holding the Raiders to just 214 yards.SMITH REBOUNDS: After struggling along with the entire 49ers' offense in the exhibition opener against the Saints, quarterback Alex Smith made some strides. He completed 8 of 13 passes for 126 yards. However, the 49ers managed just three points while he was in the game.The 49ers second drive ended when Smith threw an interception when he failed to recognize defensive end Matt Shaughnessy dropping into coverage in front of tight end Vernon Davis at the left sideline."We talked about it, we feel like it's a correctable thing," Harbaugh said. "We know why it happened and we have to do a little better job with our eyes and we will get that corrected."The 49ers opened the game with a 16-play, 75-yard drive but did not come away with any points after a field-goal was botched. The 49ers' next drive halted after seven plays on Smith's interception."Obviously, we improved from last week," Smith said. "But if we want to be the kind of team we talk about being, we have to do better in the red zone and we can't turn the ball over. Those first two drives, we didn't finish. Can't do that."EDWARDS-SMITH CONNECTION: Receiver Braylon Edwards and Smith spent a lot of extra time on the practice field during the week. During their time together in the first quarter, they hooked up twice for 46 yards, including Edwards' spectacular one-handed grab for 32 yards."There are some thing that he and I probably feel more comfortable than others," Edwards said. "There are some things more foreign to us and some things that aren't."LEE BRUISED BUT OK: Punter Andy Lee sustained a possible right hip pointer upon being thrown to the ground while trying to throw a pass after a mishandled snap on a first-quarter field-goal attempt. Lee was in obvious pain after the game, but he is expected to be all right."I don't think it's a serious thing," Harbaugh said.Lee was unable to punt the rest of the evening, forcing kicker David Akers to handle those duties. Akers had a 44-yard punt on his first try. The 49ers sent just 10 players out for his second attempt, which was blocked.DEFENSIVE STAND: The 49ers' first-team defense was challenged at the beginning of the second quarter after the Raiders had a first-and-goal at the 49ers' 2.Patrick Willis ran down Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell for a 1-yard loss on first down. On third and goal from the 1, Ray McDonald and Ricky Jean Francois stuffed fullback Marcel Reese for a 1-yard loss. Then, outside linebacker Parys Haralson sacked Campbell on a fourth down from the 2."That's kind of what we pride ourselves on," Haralson said. "You have Justin (Smith) and the big guys that are stopping it in the middle and once you're going for fourth and something, you're just coming off the ball and playing football."The 49ers eventually knocked Campbell out of the game when Ahmad Brooks delivered a hit to Campbell's left shoulder after Justin Smith recorded a sack and forced fumble.NEWS: Raiders' Campbell leaves game 'feeling dizzy'
The 49ers also recorded two interceptions in the game, as cornerback Tarell Brown and safety Madieu Williams picked off Raiders quarterbacks Trent Edwards and Kyle Boller, respectively.

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.”