49ers

Aldon Smith: Just Enjoy This Stuff

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Aldon Smith: Just Enjoy This Stuff

SANTA CLARA -- His Twitter name is aldonsmithJETS. And it has nothing to do with the New York football team.JETS, he says, is an acronym for Just Enjoy This Stuff.The 49ers' rookie pass-rusher is certainly enjoying his first NFL season despite a Pro Bowl snub this week. Smith is a half-sack from the single-season rookie record, set by Tennessee's Jevon Kearse at 14.5 in 1999.
"I watched him (Kearse), admired him, but I never talked to him," Smith said Wednesday at his locker. "(We're) both athletic guys who know how to get to the passer."RELATED: Aldon Smith 2011 game logs
Smith's friend and locker neighbor Parys Haralson interjected, "That's what you consider yourself?""Yeah, pretty much," Smith responded, laughing.With 14 sacks, Smith, the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, has set the 49ers rookie record. It's the most sacks a 49ers player has recorded since Chris Doleman had 15 in 1998.Smith is closing out the regular season strong. He has 6.5 sacks in the past four games, beginning with a two-sack performance Dec. 4 against the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park.RELATED: NFL sack leaders
Smith's first sack was one of his more impressive of the season. He bull-rushed eight-year veteran Adam Goldberg, knocking him straight back onto the ground en route to the quarterback. Smith is expecting bigger things on Sunday in the regular-season finale."I got to get more than two; got to improve every game," Smith said. "I think probably they know I'm coming, so I have to take advantage of the opportunities that I have."Smith has taken advantage of his opportunities at a high rate this season.He is listed as an outside linebacker, but he rarely played that position as a rookie. Instead, he has been used predominantly as a defensive end when the 49ers shift to a four-man line as part of their nickel pass defense.When asked what position he considers himself, Smith answered, "Outside linebacker-slash-defensive end."And that might be part of the reason Smith was not named to the NFC Pro Bowl team -- or as one of the 49ers' 10 alternates. His position is hard to define. Each of the defensive ends who made the NFC team have more sacks. And he really does not play outside linebacker.RELATED: Why Aldon smith got snubbed
Still, Smith should've been listed somewhere as an alternate. At 21, Smith should have plenty more opportunities for individual honors.
"I can't say I wasn't disappointed, but it's not a big deal," Smith said. "This isn't my last year of playing football."The Pro Bowl is voted on by fans, players and coaches.Smith is a leading candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, along with Denver's Von Miller, who plays every down. The Associated Press polls media members on that award at the end of the season.

Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

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AP

Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ passing game has ranked 29th or lower in each of the past four seasons.

If two practices against last year’s No. 1-ranked pass defense are any indication, the 49ers could be vastly improved under coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer.

“I think our guys were expecting to do good,” Shanahan said on Thursday after a second joint practice against the Denver Broncos in two days. “There’s a lot of stuff we can clean up. A lot of stuff we can do better. But I think our guys were happy with how they competed and, hopefully, that can continue to carry over.”

Hoyer hit more higher-percentage passes on Thursday. He teamed up with rookie Victor Bolden on his deepest completion -- down the left sideline against first-team All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris. After completing better than 80 percent of his passes against the Broncos a day earlier, Hoyer was 12 of 19 passing on Thursday.

Pierre Garçon, who figures to be Hoyer’s top target, was not as active during Thursday’s practice. But he did find himself in the middle of the action with a tussle against Harris.

Hoyer’s red-zone pass intended for slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was tipped and intercepted by safety Justin Simmons. Away from the action, Aqib Talib blocked Garçon, who retaliated by tossing him to the ground.

“That’s part of the game,” Garçon said. ‘You always expect one scuffle in joint practices. But it ended and you move on. It was nothing personal at all.”

Hoyer was especially sharp during the practices to strengthen his grasp on the team’s staring job. Meanwhile, rookie C.J. Beathard had a solid showing on Thursday. He will enter Saturday’s game after Hoyer and could play through the rest of the first half and open the third quarter.

The 49ers exited the field after their two most-significant practices feeling optimistic about where things stand.

“We did good the first day,” Garçon said. “We could’ve done better the second day. But we’re still learning each other and getting better. We still have a lot to do to get ready for the regular season, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

QUICK SLANTS
--Linebacker Reuben Foster wore shoulder pads and took part in all but the contact drills due to what the team described as a “mild AC joint sprain” of his right shoulder. That did not prevent Foster from getting into the middle of a skirmish that appeared to involve Broncos tackle Menelik Watson and 49ers linebacker Eli Harold.

The 49ers expect Foster to play Saturday night, Shanahan said.

--Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was pulled from practice on Thursday after experiencing soreness in his shoulder. Shanahan said Bowman's shoulder soreness is similar to what Foster experienced.

--The Broncos’ offense, which struggled to complete passes on Wednesday, made a lot more plays down the field on Thursday with Paxton Lynch at quarterback.

--Tight end Vance McDonald made an outstanding catch of a Hoyer pass at the sideline against tight coverage from safety Will Parks.

--The 49ers’ practice Thursday brought an official end to the team’s training camp. They will transition to a regular-season type of schedule next week leading up to the team’s third exhibition game, which is scheduled for Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings.

“Training camp is over, and what that means is we’re not all staying in dorms together and we’re not having night walk-throughs,” Shanahan said.

49ers making a quarterback change for preseason game vs Broncos

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AP

49ers making a quarterback change for preseason game vs Broncos

C.J. Beathard will be the No. 2 quarterback against the Broncos on Saturday night, Kyle Shanahan announced on Thursday.

In the team's first exhibition game in Kansas City, Matt Barkley was the No. 2 QB behind Brian Hoyer.

Barkley completed 10 of 17 passes for 168 yards against the Chiefs.

Beathard went 7 for 11 with 101 yards and two touchdowns.

The 49ers traded up in the 2017 draft and selected Beathard in the third round (104th overall).