James, Dixon take over for injured Hunter, disgruntled Jacobs

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James, Dixon take over for injured Hunter, disgruntled Jacobs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Disgruntled veteran running back Brandon Jacobs, who has written on Twitter and Instagram that he hates playing for the 49ers, spent another game on the sideline.

He might not see the field again this season, as it appears the 49ers have found a way to compensate for Kendall Hunter's season-ending injury.

Jacobs was inactive for the 10th time in 13 games. Instead, the 49ers went with rookie LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon as the backups to starter Frank Gore.

James got his first chance to play this season, and he responded with 30 yards on eight rushing attempts.

"I'm happy for (James)," Gore said. "I saw LaMichael when he first got here. The offense was kind of rough for him. Camp was going kind of rough. He wasn't used to playing in small spaces, but he did a hell of a job. Our offensive coordinator G-Ro (Greg Roman) did a great job of putting him in a great situation in what he's used to doing in college. And he kept me fresh."

Dixon carried twice for 9 yards. He had an 8-yard gain to set up Gore's 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Then, Dixon entered after Gore gained 19 yards to the 1-yard line. Dixon responded with a 1-yard scoring plunge.

"I feel like we have the best backfield in the league," Dixon said. "We have a lot of talent. We are super deep. I know coach has a hard time trying to figure out what to do with all of us. It's a good problem. We just try to feed off each other."

James' value to the 49ers appears to be in running the zone read play with Kaepernick. Both players are familiar with that style of running game from their college days. Kaepernick ran the pistol offense at Nevada, while James thrived in Oregon's spread attack.

"I think it's something we're both comfortable with, so it doesn't take a whole lot for us to practice that," Kaepernick said.

Jacobs was not among the 49ers' 46 players active for Sunday's game. He was also the first to leave the locker room and head to the players' parking lot after Harbaugh's post-game speech to the team.

In recent days, Jacobs posted numerous photos of himself while with the New York Giants. In response to one followers question whether he hates playing for the 49ers, Jacobs responded, "Yes I do, and for good reason."

INJURY REPORT: Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs, one of the 49ers' top special-teams players, is expected to miss time with a right knee injury. Coach Jim Harbaugh suggested the injury is not expected to sideline Dobbs for the rest of season.

"We might have dodged a bullet," Harbaugh said. "He may miss some time."

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Until now, Kyle Shanahan’s hiring by the San Fracisco 49ers looked great because of his two-and-a-half predecessors – the last days of Jim Harbaugh, the misplaced concept of Jim Tomsula and the couldn’t-make-chicken-marsala-out-of-old-Kleenex problems surrounding Chip Kelly.

But now, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has told us all that Shanahan has a gift we in the Bay Area know all too well. Specifically, that Shanahan took too long to call plays to the Super Bowl the Falcons vomited up to the New England Patriots.

Now who does that remind you of, over and over again?

Yes, some things are evergreen, and too many options in this overly technological age seems to be one of them. Data in is helpful, but command going out is what bells the cow. Ryan said Shanahan was, well, almost Harbaugh-tastic in his timing.

“Kyle’s play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Bleacher Report. “As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, ‘There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.’ You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

“With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”

And the reason this matters is because the Atlanta Shanahan had multiple good options on every play. In San Francsco, at least in the short term, he’ll be dealing with minimal options. That could speed up his choices, as in “What the hell, we don’t have Julio Jones.” But it could also mean more delays, as in, “Okay, him . . . no, maybe not . . . no, he just screwed up that play last series . . . oh, damn it, time out!”

In short, it’s growing pains season here, children. On the field, on the sidelines, and maybe even in Kyle Shanahan’s head.

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

Before starting six games as a rookie, Rashard Robinson had not played football since the 2014 season at LSU.

Yet, Robinson is the closest thing to a sure bet to win a starting job among 49ers cornerbacks.

Tramaine Brock was projected as the starting cornerback on the other side until his arrest on suspicion of a troubling domestic incident prompted the 49ers to release him more than three months ago.

The 49ers open training camp next week, and here are the top competitions for starting jobs on defense:

LEFT CORNERBACK
Keith Reaser has yet to make an NFL start while appearing in 28 games the past two seasons. The 49ers rotated cornerbacks with the first-team defense during the offseason program, and Reaser put himself in position to enter camp as the slight favorite to replace Brock.

Veterans Dontae Johnson and Will Davis will try to work their way into the picture. And the 49ers are hopeful talented rookie Ahkello Witherspoon will develop a willingness to play with more physicality. The 49ers selected Witherspoon in the third round. He has the size and all the tools to win the starting job, but there were times in college he showed an alarming lack of aggression as a tackler.

NICKELBACK
K'Waun Williams is healthy after missing last season due to an ankle injury and falling out of favor with the Cleveland Browns. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, one of the few holdovers from Chip Kelly’s staff, thinks highly of Williams after coaching him with the Browns. Hafley said he believes Williams can become one of the top covermen in the slot in the entire league.

Williams lined up with the first-team defense throughout the offseason program. His biggest competition could come from Will Redmond, whom the 49ers selected in the third round of the 2016 draft but did not play as a rookie due to a knee injury. Redmond has some rust to knock off, but he did not appear to show signs of the injury during the offseason program.

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END
Arik Armstead is not the prototypical player at the “Leo” position. At 6 foot 7, Armstead does not have the low center of gravity that is typically associated with that position. But Armstead is certainly not lacking for athleticism.

The 49ers need a more consistent pass rush to assist their unproven cornerbacks, and this spot will be counted upon to provide more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Veteran Elvis Dumervil, who believes he has regained his explosion off the edge after being hampered with Achilles injury, was added last month to do what he does best. Dumervil, 33, enters the season with 99 career sacks.

Aaron Lynch is on notice as he enters his fourth NFL season. He moves from outside linebacker to defensive end in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme. Multiple competitions will be ongoing at this position, as the 49ers will look to determine the best fits for base downs, as well as passing situations.

WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER
The signing of free-agent Malcolm Smith raised a few eyebrows. It was just the offseason program, but Smith was as impressive as any player on the team during the non-padded practices. He is clearly comfortable in Robert Saleh’s scheme, which is based on the Seattle Seahawks’ defense.

The 49ers had Reuben Foster rated as their No. 3 prospect in the entire draft. They traded with the Seahawks to move up to select him at No. 31 overall. The 49ers seem thoroughly unconcerned with Foster’s shoulder. The club believes he will be medically cleared for the opening of training camp.

The 49ers might want to bring Foster along slowly, but it is clear they do not expect him to be a backup for very long.