Hoyer excited to carry out Shanahan's plan: 'Most comfortable I’ve ever been'

Hoyer excited to carry out Shanahan's plan: 'Most comfortable I’ve ever been'

SANTA CLARA – The team’s most-proven offensive weapon is the reason Brian Hoyer decided on the first day of free agency to sign a two-year contract with the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan served the past nine seasons as an offensive coordinator before the 49ers hired him as head coach. Hoyer knew Shanahan well from their season together with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

“That was a big reason why I came here,” Hoyer said. “I knew, having played for Kyle before, how great he was piecing things together. Then, you watch him go to Atlanta and do the same thing, even to a bigger stage really, taking them all the way to the Super Bowl.

“For me it was probably the deciding factor coming out here was just to play for Kyle and knowing that his scheme and the way he game plans games, that was what I wanted to be a part of.”

Hoyer was targeted to be the 49ers’ starting quarterback. He strengthened his grip on the job throughout the offseason program and training camp. The Hoyer-led 49ers open the regular season on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers are Hoyer’s seventh team in nine NFL seasons. But this is the first time he has entered a situation as the only reasonable option to be the starter.

“It helps Brian knowing that we believe in him,” Shanahan said during an interview for “49ers Game Plan,” which will debut Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.

“He knows we believe in him. He's done a good job. We don't believe in him just because we say that. He's earned it with us. I think he's earned it with the players out there. They get to see him on the practice field every day. Players aren't just going to believe in someone just because you say he's your starting quarterback.”

Hoyer took command of his leadership role. He organized a get-together for 49ers quarterbacks and receivers for three days of work and camaraderie at Southern Methodist University in Dallas three weeks before training camp.

The 49ers might not have any Pro Bowl players at the offensive skill positions, but there appears to be plenty of options for Shanahan. Depending on the specific matchup, Shanahan could feature such players as running back Carlos Hyde, versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk, possession receiver Pierre Garçon, speedster Marquise Goodwin or rookie slot receiver Trent Taylor.

On the practice field, Hoyer was one of the standouts of the summer, as he distributed the ball in nearly equal portions to all of his targets. His ability to throw the deep ball appears to be a great match for Shanahan’s system, which is predicated on using the run game to set up play-action passes.

“One of skills that really stands out to me is as a play-action passer,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said on the “49ers Insider Podcast.”

“The thing that I’ve been incredibly impressed with – and maybe I didn’t see on film – is how good of a deep ball thrower he is. We have a guy in Marquise Goodwin who can go get it. Aldrick Robinson can go get it; Victor Bolden is the same way. You need someone who can put it out there, and he has that in a big way. That has been a pleasant surprise.”

The future of the 49ers’ quarterback situation remains unsettled. But Hoyer gets the first opportunity to prove to Lynch and Shanahan that he is the franchise’s best long-term option – rather than investing big money in a veteran, such as Kirk Cousins, or spending a high draft pick on a quarterback.

Hoyer is not looking ahead because he is having too much enjoyment with his current situation.

“This has been the most fun I’ve ever had playing football,” Hoyer said. “It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been. Being able to come in day one and kind of be handed the reigns and to having the control and implement the offense and do those things and get all the reps, I think it’s been huge.

“I feel really good about where we are heading into Week 1 and we’ve just got to keep improving. We’ve improved all offseason. I feel like we got better each day in training camp and we’ve got to keep that same mentality heading into the regular season.”

Former 49ers receiver-turned actor, artist dies


Former 49ers receiver-turned actor, artist dies

Before he was an actor, a poet and a painter, Bernie Casey was a professional football player.

Casey died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 78.

The 49ers selected Casey in the first round of the 1961 NFL draft with the No. 9 overall selection out of Bowling Green. He was a college teammate of Jack Harbaugh, father of Jim and John Harbaugh.

Casey led the 49ers in receiving in 1962, ’63 and ’64. He appeared in 79 games in six seasons with the 49ers before a trade sent him to the Los Angeles Rams, where he finished his career. In his eight-year NFL career, Casey caught 359 passes for 5,444 yards and 40 touchdowns.

But Casey had other interests outside of football. He was the subject of a 1999 NFL Films profile, telling Steve Sabol he never loved football.

“You don’t have to love it, just be proficient at it,” Casey said. “People do things all the time that they don’t love, and they’re good at it. It’s a steppingstone to get from one place to another. It allows you to facility to pursue much bigger, more important visions.”

Casey left his career as an athlete – he also finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1960 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials – to establish careers in the arts.

He made his acting debut in 1969 in Guns of the Magnificent Seven. He returned to football but only for a role in the TV movie Brian’s Song. He has 78 acting roles to his credit, including Revenge of the Nerds, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the TV mini-series Roots: The Next Generation.

Casey spent more than 20 years as chair of the board of trustees at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design. Casey was also a prominent artist. During 2003 exhibit of Casey’s work at the Thelma Harris Art Gallery in Oakland, Dr. Maya Angelou described what she liked about Casey’s work.

“I cannot see what Bernie Casey sees,” Angelou said. “Casey has the heart and the art to put his insight on canvas, and I am heartened by his action. For then I can comprehend his vision and even some of my own. His art makes my road less rock and my path less crooked.”


On eve of game vs Rams, 49ers only have two healthy safeties


On eve of game vs Rams, 49ers only have two healthy safeties

Starting safety Eric Reid will not be available for the 49ers on Thursday night, and the other presumptive starting safeties are questionable, too.

Jimmie Ward (hamstring) and Jaquiski Tartt (neck) went through limited practice Wednesdsay and are listed as questionable to face the Los Angeles Rams in front of a national television audience at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday night.

Ward and Tartt are expected to be available for the game, but the 49ers’ only healthy safeties are rookies Lorenzo Jerome and Adrian Colbert.

Reid is expected miss more than one game with a sprain of the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Reid is listed as out for Thursday’s game, along with linebacker Reuben Foster.

The 49ers medical staff no longer requires Foster to wear an orthopedic boot to stabilize his high right ankle sprain. General manager John Lynch said Foster is making good progress, but the 49ers are going to be cautious with him.

“The one thing I know is that freak athletes tend to be freak healers, as well,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He wanted to play the first week in the boot. That’s just the way he’s wired. We got to make sure he’s all the way healthy before we put him in, and we’re going to do that.”

Tight end George Kittle (hip) and linebacker Eli Harold (foot) are questionable for the game and are expected to play. Kittle sustained his injury during the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Harold was stepped on during a practice this week.

49ers injury report
LB Reuben Foster (ankle)
S Eric Reid (knee)
LB Eli Harold (foot)
TE George Kittle (hip)
S Jaquiski Tartt (neck)
S Jimmie Ward (hamstring)