Quarters coverage: 49ers exhibition storylines


Quarters coverage: 49ers exhibition storylines

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers' new coaching staff continues its crash course, as it learns about the players on the team with cuts quickly approaching.
The third exhibition game Saturday night at Candlestick Park against the Houston Texans should provide Jim Harbaugh, the coordinators and the position coaches a valuable tool for evaluations. After all, the 49ers -- and all NFL teams -- must cut from a roster maximum of 90 players to the regular-season limit of 53 in just seven days.The first round of cuts comes Tuesday, as roster must be trimmed to a maximum of 80 players. On Saturday, Sept. 3, teams must reach the regular-season limit of 53 players.Here's a quarter-by-quarter look at what to expect in the 49ers' third exhibition game:First quarter
Quarterback Alex Smith will start the game, Harbaugh said. And after the team's first two possessions, rookie Colin Kaepernick will enter the game. At least that's what Harbaugh said on Thursday. It's uncertain how much, exactly, Smith will play in the final exhibition game, so this might be Smith's lastbest chance to work at game speed against angry defensive players before the Sept. 11 start of the regular season against the Seattle Seahawks. The most overt competition on offense is at center, where Adam Snyder has yet to be moved from the spot he occupied when camp opened. Snyder initially replaced David Baas, whom the New York Giants signed in free agency. The 49ers were pleased with Snyder at the spot, but they went ahead and signed veteran Jonathan Goodwin to a three-year contract. Snyder still remains atop the depth chart. Both players will see plenty of action against the Texans' first unit.MAIOCCO: Third exhibition critical for 49ers QBs
Second quarter
Is Kaepernick ready to step into an NFL regular-season game? The passing stats are one thing, but Harbaugh will be more interested to see how Kaepernick gets the 49ers in and out of the huddle. He'll be interested to see if Kaepernick makes the necessary pre-snap reads and adjustments. And, then, he'll pay particular attention to how Kaepernick reacts when Wade Phillips' defense tries to disguise coverages out of their 3-4 scheme. On the defensive side of the ball, right outside linebacker Parys Haralson is trying to hold off rookie Aldon Smith for the starting job. The 49ers selected Smith with the No. 7 overall pick, so the club is expecting immediate contributions. If Smith doesn't win the job after this game, then he might not be in the starting lineup for the first regular-season game, and that would mark a bit of an upset.Third quarter
Veteran cornerback Shawntae Spencer, who continues to nurse a left hamstring strain, has not taken part in a fully padded practice since training camp opened. Now, it seems his standing on the team is largely out of his control. Second-year player Tramaine Brock, an undrafted free agent a year ago from obscure Bellhaven, had the most consistent and injury-free camp of any of the 49ers' cornerbacks.
REWIND: Longshot Brock makes most of opporunitites
Tarell Brown missed four practices and the first exhibition game because of an injury. Since he returned, he has performed well and placed himself in the mix to open the season as a starter for the first time in his career. Pass defense is one thing. Pass offense is another. The 49ers have a lot of receivers in the mix for roster spots. Ted Ginn has the inside track for one of the backup jobs, based largely on his prowess in the return game. Others who are trying to assure themselves a spot on the 53-man roster behind Braylon Edwards, Michael Crabtree and Joshua Morgan are Kyle Williams, Lance Long, Ronald Johnson and Kevin Jurovich. Dominique Zeigler, activated on the PUP list this week, is healthy and ready to make up for lost time.Fourth quarter
Keep an eye on the running backs. Starter Frank Gore probably will not see much action in the game. So the competition will rage between rookie Kendall Hunter and second-year pro Anthony Dixon for the backup job. Hunter tore through the Raiders' second defense a week ago. He and Dixon will get a lot of action against the Texans' starters. Who runs more decisively? Who is able to provide ample pass protection and be spot-on with blitz pickups? That will determine which running back earns the trust of the coaching staff. And who is opening the best holes for the backs? Rookie Bruce Miller has seemingly done enough to earn a roster spot with his versatility. He is providing serious competition for veteran Moran Norris. But how would that play in the locker room? Norris is Gore's best friend on the team. Along the offensive line, the 49ers' first seven spots appear set with Snyder, Goodwin, Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Chilo Rachal, Anthony Davis and reserve tackle Alex Boone. Rookie Daniel Kilgore probably has a roster spot locked up. Veteran Tony Wragge and Mike Person are Nos. 9 and 10.NEWS: More talks planned, 49ers' Gore frustrated
Please leave pre-game questions in the comments section below and I'll answer as many as possible prior to Saturday's night's game.

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”