49ers

49ers review vs. Bills: Defensive line, linebackers

910445.jpg

49ers review vs. Bills: Defensive line, linebackers

The player-by-player review of every position group from the 49ers' 45-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills continues . . .Defensive line
83-Demarcus Dobbs: He played five snaps and recorded an assisted tackle. He also played a team-high 25 plays on special teams.
90-Isaac Sopoaga: With the 49ers going with their nickel defense for most of the game because of the Bills' spread offense, Sopoaga played only four snaps of defense.
91-Ray McDonald: He played 41 snaps at left defensive tackle. He was kept off the statistic sheet, which is a bit misleading. He did not get moved off the ball, which allowed others to make tackles in the run game.
92-Will Tukuafu: He played five snaps on defense and was not credited with any tackles.
93-Ian Williams: Was not active (coaches' decision).
94-Justin Smith: He played 41 snaps on defense at right defensive tackle. As part of a defense that allowed 89 yards rushing, he was credited with four solo tackles.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: He played five defensive snaps and was credited with one tackle.REWIND: 49ers defense clamps down on Bills
Linebackers
51-Clark Haggans: Served the third and final game of an NFL suspension for violating the NFL's policy on substances of abuse. He was reinstated to the 49ers' 53-man roster on Tuesday.
52-Patrick Willis: He played 41 snaps on defense and led the 49ers with seven solo tackles and one forced fumble. . . Stopped Brad Smith for 1-yard gain on a third-and-15 play from SF 38 to force a Bills first-quarter punt. . . In coverage against TE Scott Chandler on a shallow crossing route, Willis stripped Chandler of the ball to force a huge turnover late in the first half. The 49ers immediately cashed it in for a touchdown.
53-NaVorro Bowman: He played 51 snaps on defense and recorded four tackles and broke up one pass. . . He dropped C.J. Spiller for 5-yard loss in the first quarter. Had good one-on-one coverage on deep route down the left sideline against Spiller on an incomplete pass.
54-Larry Grant: He played five snaps on defense on the final series and recorded one tackle. . . He also was on the field for 18 plays of special teams. Did not secure tackle on kickoff return against Leodis McKelvin, who bounced outside and returned it 59 yards in first quarter.
55-Ahmad Brooks: Played 40 snaps at outside linebacker and had a strong game with a sack and two tackles for loss. . Shed the block attempt of LG Andy Levitre to drop Fred Jackson for 1-yard loss in the first quarter. Was not at all fooled by play-fake in third quarter, as he dropped QB Ryan Fitzpatrick for 11-yard sack.
56-Tavares Gooden: He played five snaps on defense and 18 plays on special teams. He was not credited with any tackles.
96-Eric Bakhtiari: He played five snaps on defense and 14 plays on special teams. The 49ers waived Bakhtiari, a move they announced on Tuesday, to make room on the roster for Haggans.
99-Aldon Smith: He played 41 snaps at right outside linebacker. He recorded one tackle and had two hits on the quarterback. . . Got hit on Fitzpatrick to force an underthrow and incompletion on deep attempt to T.J. Graham late in first half. No sacks, but he got pressure on Fitzpatrick to force third-down incompletion. . . He found himself in coverage twice against Bills WR Stevie Johnson on underneath routes, and Smith made quick stops both times, holding Johnson for gains of 7 and 2 yards, respectively, with a total of 0 yards after the catch. . . . Got stuck inside, as Brad Smith ran around his side for a 35-yard gain in third quarter on a "wildcat" play. That was the Bills' biggest gain of the game.

Day after retiring, Anquan Boldin challenges owners, execs to help protesting players

boldin-manoftheyear-ap.jpg
AP

Day after retiring, Anquan Boldin challenges owners, execs to help protesting players

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Anquan Boldin didn't decide overnight he was going to quit football in order to speak out against longstanding concerns over inequality in America.

The recent deadly and racially charged conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, did, however, become the tipping point that caused Boldin to reassess his priorities and led to the Buffalo Bills receiver's decision to retire after 14 NFL seasons.

"I think anybody with any sense can see how divided we are as a country, and Charlottesville only magnified what we were already seeing," Boldin told The Associated Press by phone Monday.

He was disturbed by the hateful messages directed at African-Americans, Jewish people and the LGBT community during a rally involving neo-Nazis and other right-wing groups in which a counter-protester was killed and two Virginia state police officers died on Aug. 13.

"That's not the America that I want to live in," he said. "And I think the only way that this America changes is that we as a people stand up and change it."

Boldin spoke a day after abruptly informing the Bills he was retiring some two weeks after signing a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.75 million.

The NFL's 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Boldin is no stranger to activism and humanitarian causes. He oversees the South Florida-based Q81 Foundation, which offers educational support for underprivileged children.

He has lobbied for criminal justice reform at the state and federal levels since his cousin was killed by a plain-clothes police officer along the side of a Florida highway in October 2015.

Difficult as it was to walk away from football, Boldin felt he could no longer stand silent on the sideline.

"There's not enough money in this world for me to continue to allow the things that are going on to continue to spread," the 36-year-old father of two boys said.

"I will not feel safe leaving this earth and having my kids have to live in the America that we have today."

Boldin then challenged NFL owners and executives to use their clout to demand change and back many of their players who are already doing so by protesting during the anthem.

"You have your players crying out for help. That's the reason why guys are taking knees during the anthem," he said.

"Just because we're professional athletes doesn't mean we're exempt from the things that go on in society," Boldin said, noting his position as an athlete couldn't save his cousin from being shot.

"If I'm an owner and I see one of my family members - players - hurting, I'd do whatever I can to make sure that my family is OK."

Boldin's decision to retire coincides with what he witnessed during the anthem before Buffalo's preseason game at Philadelphia on Thursday. Eagles defensive end Chris Long showed his support by putting his arm around cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who stood in silent protest with a raised fist. Bills backup lineman Cameron Jefferson was so inspired by what he saw that he also raised his fist on Buffalo's sideline.

Boldin ranks in the top four among active receivers with 1,076 catches, 13,779 yards receiving and 82 touchdowns receiving.

He spent last season with Detroit, where he had 67 catches for 584 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games.

The former Florida State star spent his first seven NFL seasons with Arizona, then played three years with Baltimore and three with San Francisco. He helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl in February 2013.

Lions safety Glover Quin credited his former teammate for having the courage for ending his career while knowing he can "have a bigger impact to do something else."

"I tip my hat to him," said Quin, one of several NFL players who joined Boldin in addressing Congress last year. "One day, we'll be able to look back on it and say, `That was the start of something great.'"

A day later, Boldin feels he made the right choice and pays no mind to those who suggest he simply stick to sports.

"I think it's absurd to tell a person to stick to playing football when the issues that he's talking about are affecting him," he said.

Earlier in the day in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Boldin said his decision to retire had nothing to do with the Bills trading their top receiving threat, Sammy Watkins, in a pair of blockbuster deals on Aug. 11 , or how the team's offense struggled in a 20-16 preseason loss at Philadelphia.

He also discounted the notion he might reconsider retirement and choose to play for a contender later this season.

"Do I feel like I can still play? Of course," Boldin said. "My passion for the advocacy work that I do outweighs football at this point, so I'm not coming back to play for a contender or to do anything else. I'm done with the game of football."

49ers rookie QB Beathard turns VR into reality

49ers rookie QB Beathard turns VR into reality

The 49ers made a late-night trade in April to move back into the end of the third round to select an unheralded quarterback from Iowa.

The deal did not come without some second-guessing. After all, why trade away a seventh-round pick for C.J. Beathard, when he was likely to be available five picks later with the 49ers’ next scheduled draft pick?

Beathard has done everything right since his arrival, seemingly justifying the 49ers' decision to make sure they secured him when they did. And a solid showing during training camp has placed him in position to overtake veteran Matt Barkley as the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

“That’s for the coaches to decide on and evaluate,” Beathard said. “I’m critical of myself and I feel like there were plays that I can improve on and get better at. That’s part of football. You’re never going to play a perfect game. I’m always trying to get better.”

Brian Hoyer strengthened his grasp on the 49ers’ starting job with an impressive training camp with his arm strength, accuracy, and knowledge and execution of Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

Beathard has saved his best performances for the two exhibition games with and against backup players. Beathard has completed 14 of 23 passes (60.9 percent) for 211 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating is 130.6.

“There were a couple third downs I thought he missed, but it was hard to get anyone in a rhythm that game,” Shanahan said after the 49ers’ 33-14 loss to the Denver Broncos on Saturday. “I think under the circumstances, he did solid.”

Beathard, the grandson of long-time NFL executive Bobby Beathard, led Iowa to a 12-2 record as a junior. His production dropped as a senior, as he completed 56.5 percent of his attempts with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the Hawkeyes' pro-style offense.

He entered training camp at No. 3 on the depth chart. He and Barkley have been assigned the same number of practice snaps since the team reported to Santa Clara in late-July.

But Beathard has taken advantage of technology to get more and more comfortable in the 49ers’ offense. The 49ers are one of six NFL teams that use STRIVR Labs as an aide in training players via virtual reality. The tool is especially useful for quarterbacks with the camera stationed approximately 10 yards behind the quarterback.

The 49ers have two stations inside Levi’s Stadium with VR headsets, and Beathard has taken full advantage of the resource to train his eyes to read defenses and route progressions. One source told NBC Sports Bay Area that Beathard recently reviewed more than 1,000 practice plays in a week with the technology on his own time.

“You only get limited reps in practice, but you’re able to watch through virtual reality, essentially every rep in practice – all of Brian’s and Matt’s and go back and watch mine, and kind of play things out in your head as you watch practice,” Beathard said.

Beathard's pedigree, football smarts and toughness are what originally drew Shanahan to him before the draft.

Beathard’s toughness was on display in the first exhibition game, when he hung in to deliver a pass down the field to Kendrick Bourne just moments before taking a hit from a Kansas City defensive lineman. Bourne turned it into a 46-yard touchdown.

On Saturday, Beathard executed a convincing play-fake to running back Kapri Bibbs before rolling to his left and tossing to tight end George Kittle, his Iowa teammate. Kittle turned upfield, ran over one would-be tackler, stiff-armed another and managed to stay in-bounds en route to a 29-yard touchdown.

Kittle, who caught two touchdowns passes from Beathard against Nebraska in their final game together at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, is not surprised with how quickly Beathard has adapted in his first NFL training camp.

“He is the most competitive person I’ve ever met in my life,” Kittle said. “You’ve got a guy who just cares about football.”