49ers notes: Secondary depth on display, etc.

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49ers notes: Secondary depth on display, etc.

SANTA CLARA -- Aaron Rodgers threw for 312 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions when he and the Packers opened the 2011 season against the New Orleans Saints. It began a record-setting season in which he threw for 45 touchdowns, six interceptions and posted the highest-ever QB rating in a single season -- 122.5.

On Sunday, the 49ers ensured he would have a difficult time matching those stats, and their third and fourth cornerbacks were a big reason. Chris Culliver was on the field for 65 of 72 defensive snaps (90), and Perrish Cox played 55 snaps (76).

Culliver and Cox can expect to see plenty more action with the 49ers' schedule featuring matchups with the pass-heavy offenses of the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.

"Especially with the schedule we got this year," veteran cornerback Carlos Rogers said, "These powerful quarterbacks, they've got a lot of weapons and it's going to take all of us on the field at one time like this past game."

Cox and Culliver are featured in almost all of the 49ers' pass-heavy schemes. SportsNet Central's 49ers reporter Mindi Bach will have detailed analysis of the team's nickel, dime and dollar defensive packages on CSNBayArea.com Wednesday.

"The main goal is taking away big plays from any offense," Cox said. "We knew Aaron was one of those guys."

The main goal was achieved. The Packers, who were third in the NFL last season averaging 307.8 passing yards per game, managed just three plays that gained more than 20 yards. Rodgers made a pair of 28-yard completions in the second quarter and completed a no huddle 49-yard pass out of the shotgun formation in the fourth quarter.

"Them little couple yards that he get -- five, six, seven here or there -- that's not gonna kill us," Culliver said. "But if we keep 'em in front of us and don't allow them to get in the end zone, that's our MO. That's what we strive for."

The collective effort from the 49ers' secondary was no better illustrated than by the game's final play, when Rodgers' attempt to Jordy Nelson was batted down by Culliver.

"That was a fun play," the second-year cornerback said. "Coach called a good defense, and I just played it like a play in practice."

Culliver finished the game tied for third on the team with four tackles and contributed the one key pass defended. Cox had two tackles.

Cox, who bumped his personal grade from "okay" to "more than good" because of the team victory, had one final -- and scary -- observation.

"It could be better."

Alex Boone made the first start of his life -- at any level of football -- at right guard Sunday, and he played well enough to ease the pain of the offseason loss of Adam Snyder.

"It felt great," Boone said. "Proud of the offensive line. Thought we ran the ball well. Thought pass protection was great. Still a few things we need to iron out, but other than that, great day."

Clear communication in a loud and hostile environment and keeping his pad level low as a 6-foot-8 guard are two of Boone's biggest challenges, but he was encouraged by the Week 1 win.

Boone is sandwiched by center Jonathan Goodwin and right tackle Anthony Davis, and he feels the continuity on the line gets better every day.

"A.D. and I are like brothers," Boone said. "Thick as thieves. I think we blend well together."

The Packers did sack Alex Smith four times, thanks to two and one-half sacks from All Pro linebacker Clay Matthews.

The offensive line will look to improve in Week 2, but it won't be easy. They face one of the league's toughest front four in the Detroit Lions' Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Vernon Davis was the subject of some heavy ribbing from teammates after he followed his touchdown catch Sunday with an attempted dunk over the goal post that didn't quite make it.

Apparently, the team had a pretty strong reaction when the highlight was replayed on the charter flight home, and it was fellow pass catchers Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree sourcing most of the grief.

Davis claimed it was returning pain from a tweaked foot in training camp that he felt just before he attempted the dunk that distracted him, but even he smiled as he provided the backstory.

After acknowledging that Moss and Crabtree are probably the two best basketball players on the team, Davis told his story of going to high school to play basketball and converting to football.

He was asked if he can still dunk the round ball. "Oh yeah," Davis said. "Windmills, whatever."

Davis finished the game with three catches for 43 yards and the touchdown, good for the team's third-most receiving yards -- behind only Crabtree and Moss.

More from the "teammate clowning" department, Carlos Rogers is tied with Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks for the team lead in sacks after Week 1, and he said he's making sure Smith, in particular, knows it.

Smith set the 49ers rookie sack record with 14 last year, a half-sack away from Jevon Kearse's NFL record for rookies. Smith didn't put a number on it, but he said he's looking to statistically improve upon his freshman campaign. He's on pace to do so, with one sack after one game played.

REWIND: Smith sets sack goal

For reference, Fred Dean set the single-season franchise mark with 17.5 sacks in 1983.

After six-plus years in the league, the sack was the first of Rogers' career.

"I just don't blitz," he said.

Not according to 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

PHOENIX – Coach Kyle Shanahan walked into a position with the 49ers in which he had no quarterbacks on the roster.

On the first two days of free agency, the 49ers added Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. He determined they were better fits for the offense he would be installing over Colin Kaepernick, who started 64 regular-season and postseason games for the 49ers over the past 4 ½ seasons.

Shanahan appeared to be looking for quarterbacks who are more proficient at going through progressions and making plays from the pocket. Kaepernick was not deemed as a good fit for Shanahan's offense.

“Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things,” Shanahan said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I think Colin has a certain skillset that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in.

“When we first looked at it, you got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to put in a different type of offense.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. General manager John Lynch has confirmed the 49ers would have released Kaepernick if he had not opted out of his deal.

“The type of offense I wanted to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ top target in free agency was Hoyer, who enters his ninth NFL season with his sixth different team. Shanahan was offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 in Hoyer’s second and final season with the club.

Hoyer started five games with Chicago in 2016 before getting sidelined with broken left arm. Hoyer completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions in 200 attempts.

“All these questions about what I like in a quarterback, Brian is like that,” Shanahan said. “He’s obsessed with the game. He will learn your offense. He’ll be able to execute and run it. That gives other guys a chance to perform in your offense. If your quarterback can’t execute it and go through it, it doesn’t always matter what the O-line or the receivers are doing.

“With Brian, you have a very smart guy who works at it, will hang in the pocket and is fearless, will keep his eyes down the field and deliver the ball to the right spots. It gives people a chance to be successful.”

The 49ers also reached a contract agreement with Barkley, who started six games with the Bears due to injuries to Jay Cutler and Hoyer. Barkley saw the most extensive playing time of his career. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Just watching Matt since college, Matt’s always been a solid player, even coming out and playing at an early age at (USC),” Shanahan said. “He’s battle-tested in that way. He’s gone through the pressure of college, the pressure of the draft, being in the NFL, being with some different teams. Even watching Matt in Chicago this year, I think he played better this year than he has throughout his career. That means the guy is continuing to work at it.”

The 49ers figure to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, so the team is not finished at the quarterback position.

“We’ll look to add anyone who can really help us,” Shanahan said. “I’m very happy with the two we got. You know we’re not only going to take two to camp. So we got to see how the draft works out and then you see what else is out there.”

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

PHOENIX – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he does not believe quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” in his attempt to continue his career.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during his press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings.

“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams. But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman this week was asked on ESPN’s "First Take" whether he felt Kaepernick was being blackballed.

"I'm sure he is," Sherman answered. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand."

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the 49ers have not had any contact with Kaepernick since he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick on Feb. 22 in Santa Clara. The 49ers signed free-agent quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley have shown no interest in re-signing Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, created a controversy last season when he opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has decided to stand for the national anthem this season.

Earlier in the day, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it was “stupid” and “intellectually lazy” to think teams have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Last week, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, John’s brother, said Kaepernick is still an outstanding player and can win championships.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” John Harbaugh said. “I agree with Jim. He can win games for people.”