Five 49ers to watch: 5. Ikaika Alama-Francis

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Five 49ers to watch: 5. Ikaika Alama-Francis

(This is the first part in a series that spotlights five 49ers players to watch in the team's exhibition game Sunday, 1 p.m. (FOX-TV), at the Denver Broncos.)The 49ers signed Ikaika Alama-Francis 10 days ago when they were quickly running out of outside linebackers.Aldon Smith sustained a right hip bruise. He is getting better. But it's still iffy whether he will be available to play against the Broncos. Ahmad Brooks missed a game with a knee injury. He should be back in the lineup Sunday. Undrafted rookie Kourtnei Brown (leg) does not figure to play, though.
The 49ers want to keep four outside linebackers on their 53-man roster, but only if that fourth player earns his spot on the team.After all, the 49ers kept four outside linebackers through the final cuts a year ago. But a day later, the 49ers cut Antwan Applewhite to make room for the addition of inside linebackerspecial-teamer Tavares Gooden.Behind the starters, the 49ers have a solid backup: Parys Haralson, who started all 16 games last season before yielding to Smith in pass-rush situations.After that, there are no clear-cut answers.Journeyman Eric Bakhtiari is the No. 4 right now. He played well in the second halves of the 49ers' first two exhibition games. Alama-Francis, who has played 35 games in five previous seasons with Detroit and Miami, will get a chance."He's got some potential," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Alama-Francis. "Hopefully we'll get him some good playing time this week and get him prepared to play."Alama-Francis (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) does not have much time to make his case for a roster spot. The first round of cuts from 90 to 75 are scheduled for Monday. Every NFL team must cut to 53 players by Friday at 6 p.m."I got a two-week window, so hopefully I can show them enough to be on this team for the 53," Alama-Francis told CSNBayArea.com this week. "You know how the NFL works: 'Hey, come in, get the job done or go home.' "

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.

 

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

SANTA CLARA -- General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan sat down with 49ers pass-rusher Aaron Lynch shortly after assuming their new roles to give him an outline of what was expected.

Aaron Lynch entered the NFL in 2014 as a fifth-round draft pick despite having the talent worthy of a much-earlier selection. There were concerns about his commitment and character.

Lynch showed plenty of promise in his first two seasons. He tied for the club lead both seasons with six and 6.5 sacks, respectively. Last year, Lynch reported to the offseason program 30 pounds overweight. He was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy of substances of abuse. Then, he missed considerable time with an ankle injury. In seven games, Lynch recorded just 1.5 sacks.

John Lynch and Shanahan told Aaron Lynch his past transgressions would not be held against him, but he had to work hard and prove himself. As Lynch enters the final year of his original four-year contract, his spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster is anything but a certainty.

“Basically, everybody on this team, no matter what has happened before you came into the league or when you’ve been in the league, they’re not holding that against you and it’s a new clean slate,” Lynch said. “So I need to do everything I can to make sure I have a clean slate with them.”

Lynch is currently working with the second unit at the “Leo” position on the 49ers’ defensive line, behind Arik Armstead.

“’Leo’ is a lot of damn fun, so, yeah, I like it a lot,” Lynch said. “You get to set the edge and go get the quarterback.”

Lynch said he is in better physical condition than he was a year ago at this time. He said his target playing weight is in the 260-270 range. He said he is currently in the 280s.

“I came in heavy, but I’ve been working my (butt) off to get down to where my coach wants me to get down to, and where I feel I would be best to give everything I can for my team and do what I can for my team,” Lynch said.

While the 49ers did not witness any improvement in Lynch's commitment at the beginning of the offseason, things seem to be turning around. Shanahan said Lynch has missed only one day of the team's voluntary offseason program -- an excused absence to deal with a situation concerning his wife.

“There’s no doubt Aaron’s going in the right direction for us," Shanahan said. "He came in in the offseason, we challenged him hard with just the way we worked and stuff. He hasn’t shied away from any of it. He’s jumped in on all of our stuff.

"So he’s gotten better each day. He’s gotten more in shape each day and I’m seeing it on the field each day.”