49ers

Crabtree's role vs. Bengals

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Crabtree's role vs. Bengals

The 49ers tried to conserve receiver Michael Crabtree this week in the practices before Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Upon being medically cleared to play in early September after recovering from surgery to repair a left foot fracture, Crabtree took part in full practices leading up to the first game of the regular season. That approach didn't work too well.Crabtree played 13 snaps in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, then missed the following game, against the Dallas Cowboys, with soreness in his foot.This week, Crabtree was limited in practices but is listed as probable for against the Bengals. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Crabtree has a role in the 49ers' game plan.But what is that role?

Crabtree might not start the game, as Joshua Morgan and Ted Ginn have been full participants in practices. Crabtree could be worked into the mix as the third-down slot receiver. Then, depending on how he looks, Crabtree could see more and more action, along with Morgan, in two-receiver formations.Braylon Edwards is expected to miss approximately a month after undergoing arthroscopic surgery this week to repair a torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee.Kyle Williams, who played 16 snaps Sunday against the Cowboys, will be active. But he'll probably return to his role as the fourth man on a team that has not put more than three wideouts on the field at the same time this season.Here are a few more elements of worth watching in Sunday's game:Offensive plan: Aside from the multiple looks, including a dose of seven-linemen formations, the 49ers' offense has resembled the stodgy philosophy employed by former head coach Mike Singletary and ex-offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. Quarterback Alex Smith has gotten off to an efficient beginning to the season. His 95.2 passer rating is 11th in the league, and his 70.5 completion percentage is tied for fourth. But the 49ers have not asked much from him. Smith has attempted 44 passes (31st in the league) and his 303 yards passing is 29th. Are the 49ers even capable of breaking out into a multi-receiver spread formation and attacking? "(It's) part of the scheme," Harbaugh said. "It's what we're working on. We've got the ability to do it, yes." The 49ers want to provide a threat through the air, so the Bengals can't afford to load the box to stop running back Frank Gore. But the 49ers, clearly, also want to protect Smith, who sustained a concussion last week against the Dallas Cowboys. Rookie backup Colin Kaepernick took more practice snaps this week in practice . . . just in case.Goldson's return: Safety Dashon Goldson got all the practice time this week at free safety, a strong indication he'll return to his accustomed starting role on defense. Goldson missed the final exhibition game and the first two games of the regular season with a knee injury. The 49ers need him to return to his playmaking form of 2009, when he recorded four interceptions, forced three fumbles and recorded two sacks. He might get some chances to take advantage of the inexperience at quarterback with Bengals rookie Andy Dalton making his third career start.Spencer in secondary: Veteran Shawntae Spencer has 72 career starts, but he's been on the field for just one snap of defense this season. He will likely see a lot more action Sunday, but how much? Carlos Rogers' starting job is secure. Tarell Brown started the 49ers' first two games at right cornerback with mixed results. Second-year player Tramaine Brock has worked as the 49ers' third cornerback. "You've got to remember, he (Spencer) got hurt very early on the second practice so he had zero training camp for us," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "So, his body, mind is still in training camp, physically and mentally."Conversion complete:Bruce Miller was the Conference USA defensive player of the year at Central Florida as a defensive end. But Miller was shocked when the 49ers drafted him in the seventh round . . . as a fullback. Miller will see his first action of the season on offense, as he takes over for Moran Norris, who is expected to miss four to six weeks with a fractured fibula. Miller said he has finally gotten accustomed to the idea of playing offense and, even, just saying the word "fullback." Said Miller, "Going through the preseason it was a little bit different. As we've made our way through it's gotten easier and easier." If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section. When I arrive in Cincinnati, I'll answer as many as possible. Thank you.

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

After a couple of practices and one exhibition game against the Denver Broncos, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again came to the realization things are often not as good or bad as they seem.

That was his takeaway a day after the 49ers provided the Broncos with five giveaways to go along with 11 penalties in a 33-14 loss at Levi’s Stadium.

“But when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt,” Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “When you look at each situation, especially when you talk about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play, and if you have one guy off a little bit, it breaks down.”

A couple of passes that could have been caught, a ball that slipped out of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s hand and some other correctable errors gives Shanahan reason to be optimistic.

When he spoke to the media on Saturday night after the game, Shanahan was clearly upset with how his 90-man team performed. He was asked a day later if it was a relief to watch the film and come to the conclusion that not everything was a total disaster.

“It’s not really relief,” Shanahan quipped. “It’s kind of my life story.

“We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys (the media) after practice. But I’m pretty pissed after practice when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect. That’s why most of the time I’m not that happy.”

Shanahan said he expects everyone in the organization to hold themselves to the same high standard.

“Whenever you go out to a game like that, you want to win, you want to play well,” he said. “And you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. If they’re not, that’s when I would be worried.”

Shanahan said he had the opposite feeling after the practice Wednesday against the Broncos that looked like a decisive win for the 49ers. Upon review, Shanahan said he felt there was still a lot of room for improvement.

“I thought things seemed real good at practice our first day versus them,” he said. “Then, I go in and watch the film and it was good but not quite as good as I felt when I was out there.”

49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon

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USATSI

49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon

The 49ers could get their presumptive starting free safety back on the field this week.

Jimmie Ward, who has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since sustaining a hamstring injury during a conditioning test on the eve of training camp, will go through strenuous workouts Monday and Tuesday.

Ward could be cleared to return to practice as early as Wednesday, when the club is scheduled to hold its next practice.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will will pace him through a football-related workout on Monday and Tuesday.

"Hopefully, we'll get him ready to go by Wednesday," Shanahan said.

The 49ers envision Ward, a first-round draft pick in 2014, as a major contributor in the team’s new 4-3 scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. With strong safety Eric Reid playing close to the line of scrimmage, Ward will play the deep safety – a role that Earl Thomas has played for the Seahawks.

In Ward’s absence, undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games and appears to have played his way into solid position for a spot on the 53-man roster.

"Lorenzo has done a good job," Shanahan said. "I think a couple of times he's ran around and been a ballhawk for us and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he's been so aggressive. He's going to have to learn from those, but they never made him pay for those by going outside."

QUICK SLANTS
--The 49ers will have days off on Monday and Tuesday as they settle into their regular-season routine.

--Shanahan said he has been formulating ideas for the game plan against Carolina in Week 1 of the regular season. So as the 49ers play the exhibition games, they are mindful of not showing too much.

"I never get too far away from that," Shanahan said. "Everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season."

--Shanahan said he thought No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer "did a good job." He said the first throw intended for Vance McDonald over the middle was thrown a little late.

"Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads and went to the right spots," Shanahan said.

Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard also was on-point with his reads, Shanahan said.

--Eli Harold got the start Saturday night at outside linebacker position, as he competes with Ahmad Brooks for a job.

"I try to go off what I see in practice," Shanahan said. "You want to know who has more upside, things like that. Who's going to get better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But you also want to know, when it's all said and done, who is going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things I look at personally."

--Former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday. Shanahan never coached him, but he was obviously a big fan.

"I've personally met Anquan or talked to him before, but he has been one of my favorites of all time," Shanahan said. "I love Anquan. I don't know him at all, but I feel like I do because I've always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came into Florida State as a quarterback and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year.

"And I remember him coming into the league and people thinking he wouldn't be as great because he didn't have a fast 40 time. And watching him play over the years. That's my definition of a football player. He's as violent of a receiver as there is, and I've always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I feel lineman have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs, if you're not tough, you're not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. And when you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls."