49ers preparing to thin safety position

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49ers preparing to thin safety position

Less than 24 hours after the 49ers play the Broncos on Sunday come the first cuts of the preseason. That's when the NFL requires teams to trim their rosters from 90 to 75 players. San Francisco's defense may be returning all of its starters from last season, but there are many backup positions still to be won between now and Monday.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he needs at least one of the five reserve safeties to step up and make it clear who should back up Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson. Those five being four-year veterans C.J. Spillman and Darcel McBath, second year player Colin Jones, sixth round pick Trenton Robinson and undrafted rookie free agent Michael Thomas. My colleague, Matt Maiocco, has more on the five here:
MAIOCCO: Fangio looks for reserve safety to step up

One aspect the safeties like about Fangios system is the free and strong positions are fairly interchangeable allowing the players to learn both simultaneously. They all feel fairly comfortable in either position, but getting reps at game speed has been difficult this preseason.

The one thing thats happened in these first two preseason games, which is a little unusual, is weve been in the low 50s in both games with plays. Usually youre in the mid 60s, Fangio said. Weve lost at least 20 to 30 plays that you normally would get, that we havent gotten, just because the way the games have turned out. Weve kind of lost some reps for our younger guys that way."

Though Fangio acknowledged the players get plenty of reps in practice.

I was able to talk to three of the players about their individual situations. Here is what they had to say:

COLIN JONES:

When Im given an opportunity I want to make the best of it. Special teams is primarily what Im here for, but whenever any opportunity comes up and I can help make this team better I just need to take advantage of it and do the best I can.

Actually, the last game was the first game Ive ever gotten defensive reps in before, so that was pretty exciting. (He played 10 snaps at strong safety against the Texans.) So kind of grow from there and get better, work things out on film that I did wrong. All I can do is get better each and every day.

MICHAEL THOMAS:

Im very comfortable just knowing the defense but obviously you want to have the more reps in practice. The more youre out there, the more comfortable youll feel. I feel like Ive grasped it, but Ive still got a ways to go. Like coach says, he wants somebody just to step up and take it. We are given the opportunity we just got to make it happen.

When youre a guy thats being played at both positions you have to know everything, and you might not even get as many reps as other guys but whenever they put you in, you have to know it. Ive been playing strong this whole camp but whenever they do put me at free safety Im able to pick it up right then.

DARCEL McBATH:

The way I work Im going to go out and try to get better, try to prove to the coaches that they can trust me on the field that Ill do the right thing. Im not really thinking about the third position or the fourth position, Im just trying to prove that I can be a player.

C.J. played a little bit in this system last year. I was little behind the eight ball trying to learn everything, and I dont want to think that I had a leg up on anybody, because of his NFL experience I just try to come to work and put my best foot forward.

Im feeling a lot more comfortable by the day, by the hour, by the meeting. Im happy about that. Not really thinking about the calls anymore. Just getting the call and going out and playing instead of going through it in my mind and things like that. Hopefully it will transfer over to the field, and I think it has been a little bit more and more in this past week, week and a half or so. Hopefully this week Ill get a little bit better and come up with some balls or something.

Shanahan delegates offensive duties to 49ers staff

Shanahan delegates offensive duties to 49ers staff

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan will retain the role he held the past nine seasons in his first year as head coach of the 49ers.

Shanahan eschewed the formality of naming an offensive coordinator because he will keep those duties for himself. Still, Shanahan made it clear that he alone will not be able to fix the 49ers’ offense.

Shanahan has assembled a supporting cast that he said makes him comfortable to delegate responsibilities whenever his attention has to be focused on something other than the team’s offense.

“I mix it up,” said Shanahan, who previously held offensive coordinator roles with Houston, Washington, Cleveland and Atlanta. “Different guys have different attributes.”

Mike McDaniel and Mike LaFleur joined Shanahan after time together on the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive staff. McDaniel is the run-game specialist, while LaFleur, the wide receivers coach, is the pass-game specialist.

Tight ends coach Jon Embree, formerly the head coach at Colorado, is Shanahan’s assistant head coach. Shanahan said Embree has a vocal role on his staff.

Moreover, long-time NFL running backs coach Bobby Turner is a trusted assistant after spending 14 seasons in Denver and four more in Washington with Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father. Turner coached under Kyle Shanahan the past two seasons with the Falcons.

”Bobby Turner’s been an assistant head coach for our teams we’ve had in the past and anytime that I need him to take over, he does,” Shanahan said. “So it depends what period it is, depends what we’re talking about.”

The 49ers opened organized team activities last week. It was the first time the 49ers’ rookies and veterans were together on the field for offense vs. defense practices. Shanahan said it takes some adjustment for him to figure out how to best budget his time during the workouts.

“I’m used to knowing exactly where to go and what to do and I always did that from an offensive coordinator standpoint which I still do a lot of those responsibilities,” Shanahan said. “So, at times, I feel most comfortable when I go to do that because that’s something to do. But, when I pass it over to some other guys and let them do it, I find myself walking around a lot and I’m not used to that.

“It feels awkward, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think I should walk around and watch everyone and see it. I always see it on the tape, but that’s later at night. You want players to know you’re there and paying attention to everything and I usually try to cover that in meetings the next day also.”

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.