Harbaugh: Healthy team means no Jenkins or James

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Harbaugh: Healthy team means no Jenkins or James

SANTA CLARA -- First-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins suited up for the first game of the regular season. He did not get into the game. And the rookie wide receiver has not been in uniform for any game since.
Running back LaMichael James, chosen in the second round, has not been active for a game all season.It's a unique situation in which an NFL team has not received any contributions from its top draft picks. Instead, Jenkins and James serve their roles on the scout team during practices.When asked how the 49ers' top rookies are performing behind the scenes, coach Jim Harbaugh said, "Good. They've been working hard and doing it with a very good attitude. Just the same thing we tell them, 'Work hard, have a great attitude and you'll get it.'"They'll get their opportunity. So far, with our rookies, they haven't had the opportunity to play in games. But they are practicing and doing very well."Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn are seeing action at wide receiver ahead of Jenkins, the No. 30 overall selection. And Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon are the three running backs who have been active ahead of James and veteran Brandon Jacobs.So what does it say about the 49ers that their top rookies can't even get on the field?"Generally, it says we have 53 healthy guys," Harbaugh said. "You can dress 46 on game day. So I think that's the biggest statement right there."Guard Joe Looney, selected in the fourth round, has also been inactive as the 49ers suit up seven offensive linemen for games.The only draft pick who has seen any action this season is safety Trenton Robinson, who played in the first three games on special teams. But he has not been active for the past five games.Undrafted tight end Garrett Celek has made the biggest impact among members of the team's rookie class. Celek has seen limited action in the past five games with two catches for 10 yards.

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

C.J. BEATHARD
Position: Quarterback
College: Iowa
Height: 6-2
Weight: 219
Selection: Third round, No. 104 overall

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers traded back into the end of the third round to select a quarterback to join Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the 49ers' roster.

General manager John Lynch's fourth trade of the draft netted the team the grandson of legendary NFL personnel man Bobby Beathard. His grandson, C.J., joins the 49ers after a four-year career at Iowa. Beathard completed 58.6 percent of his passes last season with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Coach Kyle Shanahan believed Beathard was the best fit for his offense, and Beathard said he was excited about learning the 49ers' offensive scheme.

“I think I’ll fit in very well," Beathard said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. "I come from a background, a football background, so I know a lot about coaches and things like that. And I have a lot of, you know my grandpa and uncles have a lot of great things to say about coach Shanahan.

"And having watched his schemes and offensive philosophy and style, I think I’ll fit in very well with that. And I’m just looking forward to getting there and practicing and getting ready to work.”

Beathard was not generally expected to be chosen within the first two days of the draft. He was the sixth quarterback selected, falling behind Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Deshone Kizer and Davis Webb.

"I’m just thankful the 49ers and coach Shanahan’s staff you know, saw the potential in me and they believe in me enough to give me this opportunity. And like I told them, they won’t regret it," Beathard said.

The 49ers traded up with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had the No. 104 pick, and called the 49ers to see if they were interested in a trade. After some consideration, the 49ers decided to move up from No. 109 while also giving the Vikings a seventh-round pick at No. 219.

Beathard was chosen before any of the draft prognosticators had him being selected.

"I don’t really pay attention to the mock drafts very much," Beathard said. "I had a lot of communication with various teams. I’m confident in my abilities and you know I’m just thankful the 49ers and coach Shanahan’s staff saw the potential in me and they believe in me enough to give me this opportunity. And like I told them, they won’t regret it.”

Shanahan said the 49ers "had an idea" Beathard would be selected in the fourth round. The 49ers were certainly going to pick him in the fourth round, but they moved up to the end of the third round just to be able to have a good night of sleep.

"Might he have been there at 109? That’s what we had to weigh," Lynch said. "But at the end of the day, we felt like it was worth it to be able to go to bed knowing that we had a player that we liked and want the opportunity develop at the quarterback position."

And that's what Shanahan plans on doing. He said Beathard is not coming to the team this season to compete with Hoyer for the starting job.

"We’re bringing him in here to develop him and give him a chance, but just like any other position, everyone competes," Shanahan said. "Brian is our starting quarterback and, right now, Matt Barkley is our second. And I look at him to come in and be our third with us only having three on the roster.

"By no means did we come into this draft thinking we’re going to get a guy to compete with Brian."

Shanahan said Beathard and Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman were the two quarterbacks in the draft who ran offenses in college most similar to the offense he is installing with the 49ers.

"One thing that helps is being able to see guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play," Shanahan said. "It helps being at Iowa and watching the system he’s in. It’s easier to see to watch him over the years. He’s a three-year starter. He’s led his team to a bunch of wins, especially in 2015 when they had a better team and he played unbelievable."

As a junior at Iowa, Beathard completed 61.6 percent of his pass attempts for 2,809 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. 

"He’s a leader. He’s tough. He processes very well," Shanahan said. "He's extremely accurate and he lives and dies football."

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

AHKELLO WITHERSPOON
Position: Cornerback
College: Colorado
Height: 6-2 3/4
Weight: 193
Selection: Third round, No. 66 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a Sacramento native, in the third round of the NFL draft with the No. 66 overall pick.

“Being close to home is an incredible opportunity, as well as the type of defense they play -- press man, up in your face,” Witherspoon said. “When I came in for a visit, they were asking me if I’ve adopted that role and if I’d be willing to continue that. And I said, ‘Absolutely.’

“It’s an opportunity to play for such a great organization, close to home, with such a savvy defensive mentality. I think it’s going to be a great place for me.”

The 49ers were also scheduled to have the next pick, but traded the selection at No. 67 for the New Orleans Saints’ second-round pick in next year’s draft, as well as a seventh-round selection (No. 229 overall) this year. The 49ers now have 10 picks in next year’s draft.

The Saints used that pick at No. 67 to select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

Witherspoon began his college career at Sacramento City. He played his final three college seasons at Colorado. He started 12 games last season and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Witherspoon led the nation with 22 pass breakups. He recorded one interception -- a game-saving pick in the end zone to preserve a 41-38 victory over Oregon. A pre-med student majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, he said he aspires to be a doctor after his football career.

But Witherspoon said he is committed to football and promised the 49ers during his visit to Santa Clara that he will make huge strides over the next few years as he continues to develop as a player.