Defensive notes: Aldon Smith's injury a short-term concern


Defensive notes: Aldon Smith's injury a short-term concern

SANTA CLARA -- Aldon Smith, making his first start at outside linebacker Friday, saw 10 fewer snaps than his fellow 49ers starters in the exhibition opener.And he will be out of action for at least a week with a right hip bruise. But defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Monday that he does not believe Smith's absence during camp will have any lasting impact."Concerned that he's missing a good bit of this week's work," Fangio said. "But, long term, I'm not concerned. But it is a setback in the short term."RELATED: 49ers Fan Fest: Aldon Smith, Delanie Walker injury updates
Smith will not play Saturday when the 49ers return to action against the Houston Texans. The 49ers are hopeful Smith will be 100 percent and see action Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Denver Broncos.Fangio would like to see Smith get back onto the field to play a little leading up to the regular-season opener Sept. 9 at the Green Bay Packers. If not, the 49ers might be inclined to work him in slowly as the every-down player."That's a possibility but I'm not anticipating that being the case, but we'll see how it unfolds as we move forward," Fangio said.Fangio touched on several topics Monday during his briefing with the media:--The 49ers' first-team defense allowed the Vikings to gain 59 and 63 yards on the opening drives of the game.Said Fangio, "We were not sharp at all. . . Kind of felt it might happen that way, but we definitely did not play the way we're capable of playing."Fangio confirmed the 52-yard pass that Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder hit to receiver Stephen Burton was a blown coverage. Cornerback Carlos Rogers was expecting safety help in the middle of the field from Dashon Goldson."We didn't play the coverage correctly," Fangio said. "We needed to have another person deep and we weren't there. It was a busted coverage."--Fangio feels good about the depth at cornerback. Currently, the team's top three corners are starters Rogers and Tarell Brown, and Chris Culliver. Are those positions set?"Not necessarily," Fangio said. "(Tramaine) Brock and (Perrish) Cox are having good camps. You see a little more of Cox than you do of Brock because he's playing nickel. And nickel gets involved in some more action. Brock has had a good camp also."Right now, I'm feeling good that we got five corners that we can feel confident playing in the game. Wish we had that depth at all of our positions, but that's a little unrealistic."Cox has seen action at both cornerback positions, as well as nickel back. Fangio is impressed."He's going to factor into our plans, somehow, someway," Fangio said.--Rookie safety Trenton Robinson had a solid first game, and Fangio reported seeing steady progress. Now, he wants to see it come along a little faster."Usually with a guy slow and steady, once they truly figure it out, you'll get a big spike one of these weeks," Fangio said. "Pleased with his progress so far, but looking for him to make that spike to where he has to play, we'll feel comfortable."Fangio said he looks for Robinson to get more confident and quick with his decisions.--Dilapidated Candlestick Park offered a unique challenge Friday for Fangio. The elevator broke, so Fangio did not make the trek through the stands to the 49ers' locker room at halftime during the 12-minute intermission.RELATED: 49ers reach agreement on disputed stadium funds
"I guess we need that new stadium," he said.So what did he do during that time?"I had a hot dog," he said. "I've had better."No communication is allowed other than coaches' box to sideline communication. So Fangio had no contact with the other coaches or players in the locker room during that 12-minute period before the third quarter.
Do the 49ers have a contingency plan in case the elevators break during the regular season?"Our contingency plan is to make sure it doesn't happen again," Fangio said.

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

The 49ers have graduated back to the phase of the offseason when offense-vs.-defense drills are allowed.

Because of the hiring of Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers were allowed an additional “voluntary” minicamp before the NFL draft. That meant the 49ers were permitted to skip from the two-week conditioning phase of the offseason straight to what is allowed under Phase III.

But after the three-day minicamp in late-April, the 49ers were forced to retreat back to Phase II, when on-field drills but could not include offense vs. defense.

Beginning Monday – and over the next three weeks -- the 49ers can get back to conducting the standard one-on-one, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 "non-contact" drills. The 49ers have the maximum number of 10 organized team activities scheduled. The official offseason program concludes with a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 13-15.

The real competition does not begin until the pads go on during training camp. but here’s a look at the team’s most notable offseason competitions (one position you will not find is quarterback, where the depth chart of Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard appears clearly set):

Running back: Carlos Hyde, entering the final year of his original four-year contract, has a lot of competition to hold onto his role as the featured back. He is coming off his most-productive season, finishing just 12 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark when he sustained a knee injury with one game remaining. Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner lobbied for Utah running back Joe Williams in the draft. They clearly see a fit for him within the system.

Pass-rush end: The 49ers’ pass rush was among the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. Arik Armstead will be given an opportunity to see if he can adapt to the “Leo” position. Aaron Lynch must earn the confidence of the coaching staff and front office. The 49ers added explosive, 243-pound pass Pita Taumoepenu in the sixth round.

Tight end: The 49ers confirmed Vance McDonald was available for a trade during the draft. After finding no takers, the 49ers brought back McDonald and he rejoins the competition among rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

Cornerback: Rashard Robinson is the obvious choice to start on one side. And assuming Jimmie Ward remains at free safety, the 49ers have no other player on the roster who has started a significant number of games at cornerback. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, will have a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job, as long as he displays a willingness to stick his nose into the action and play with the requisite level of physicality. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Will Redmond should also be in the mix to replace Tramaine Brock, who was released shortly after his arrest after an alleged domestic incident last month.

Center: Jeremy Zuttah, a Pro Bowl performer, was added in the offseason via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniel Kilgore has been the 49ers’ center the past three seasons but injuries have limited him to just 23 starts over that period of time. Zuttah has position flexibility. The 49ers could determine the best thing for the offensive line is to move Zuttah to one of the guard positions – to challenge Zane Beadles or Joshua Garnett -- if he is not clearly better than Kilgore.

Weakside linebacker: The 49ers signed veteran Malcolm Smith on the first day of free agency, providing him with $11.5 million of fully guaranteed money. The 49ers ranked Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster as the No. 3 overall prospect in the draft. They traded up to select him at No. 31 overall. Assuming Foster is ready to compete at the beginning of training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, it appears likely he would line up in that position and compete with Smith. The 49ers’ medical staff does not believe Foster will require any additional surgery, and Foster said he expects to be cleared for the opening of camp.

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spent last offseason working with Tom House and Adam Dedeaux on his throwing mechanics.

Ryan went on to set career-bests in completion percentage (69.9), yards passing (4,944), touchdowns (38), interceptions (7) and passer rating (117.1).

New 49ers quarterback Matt Barkley worked with House and Dedeaux for the fourth offseason in Southern California before reporting to Santa Clara for the team’s offseason program.

“Kyle (Shanhan) is on board with what House and those guys are doing – I think, really, because of the year Matt Ryan had,” Barkley said on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” on NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He’s a believer in that. He saw the benefits of what Matt did with some of his drops and the timing on routes, how he changed his feet on some things. So we’re kind of sticking with that plan. Everyone is a little different, but for the most part we’re all on the same page when it comes to what our drops are looking like, our footwork and how the ball is coming out.”

House is a former major league pitcher and pitching coach who founded the 3DQB training facility in Los Angeles. Dedeaux pitched at USC and is the grandson of USC baseball coaching legend Rod Dedeaux. Former NFL quarterback John Beck is a motion mechanics instructor.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer are among the NFL quarterbacks who have worked with 3DQB.

“I believe in those guys and what they’re doing,” Barkley said. “They’re at the top of their game, working with Brady and a bunch of other guys. They’ve helped me.

“He won’t change your throwing motion or really tweak how the ball comes out, but he’s going to try to maximize velocity and ground force production and torque -- a lot of sports science terms. But, really, just maximizing efficiency with your motion and making sure you’re sequencing is right.”

Barkley had never played for Shanahan before signing a two-year contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency. But there are two obvious connections. Barkley’s offensive coordinator last season with the Chicago Bears was Dowell Loggains, Shanahan’s quarterbacks coach in 2014 when Shanahan was the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator. The other connection is House.

"It’s kind of funny, he worked with Atlanta’s staff all of last year, helped Matt Ryan, kind of build his base from the ground up and helped him a lot and he had an MVP year," Barkley said of House.

"There may have been talks down the pipeline, who knows. I don’t think that was the deciding factor by any means, but it never hurts.”