Rogers, 49ers pass defense prepares for challenge


Rogers, 49ers pass defense prepares for challenge

Carlos Rogers had an impressive day against the New York Giants on Nov. 13. And the 49ers' cornerback exited the game equally impressed with Giants receiver Victor Cruz.Rogers recorded two interceptions against Giants quarterback Eli Manning to help punch his ticket to the Pro Bowl. One of his picks came in the fourth quarter and led directly to a touchdown in the 49ers' 27-20 victory at Candlestick Park.REWIND: Smith manages another 49ers victory
And when Rogers sat down to fill out his personal Pro Bowl ballot last month, Cruz received one of his votes. Cruz finished third in the NFL with 1,536 receiving yards. Despite Rogers' support, Cruz was not chosen to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl.Cruz caught six passes for 84 yards against the 49ers in their face-to-face meeting. The challenge and the stakes will be much greater on Sunday at Candlestick Park when the teams meet in the NFC Championship Game, beginning at 3:30 p.m.REWIND: Giants expect to face the 49ers again
"A lot of my work will be done on the inside (slot) facing Cruz," Rogers said on Sunday. "He's a very good receiver who's come a long, long way. I'll have to do the same thing this game. . . . Any turnovers I can get, I got to get them."The Giants' 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday meant the 49ers would play host to the Giants on Sunday for the right to advance to Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. If the top-seeded Packers had won Sunday, the NFC title game would've taken place in Green Bay."It's great," Rogers said of the Giants' victory. "It's a lot better than traveling to Wisconsin, so we'll take that any day. More important, we're playing a team that we already faced, so it's not as hard as preparing for another team we haven't faced yet.""It's a relief. The traveling is a big thing. We're getting a home game, facing them in front of our fans. We're familiar with the team. The team has gotten better since we played them. This team always sparks late in the season when it counts -- November, December and into the bowl season. We're still going to have our work cut out, and we still have a lot of work to do."Of course, Cruz isn't the only dangerous Giants receiver. In two playoff games, Hakeem Nicks has 13 catches for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Nicks, who returned in November to face the 49ers after missing a game with a hamstring injury, caught two passes in that game for 41 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown.When the 49ers and Giants first met, the first six scores were field goals. David Akers made four field goals, as the 49ers took a 12-6 lead in the third quarter.REWIND: Akers vital with four FGs and onside kick
This figures to be another closely contested game. Rogers, who faced the Giants twice a year for six seasons with the Washington Redskins, said the 49ers' pass-rush has to make it difficult on Manning to get the ball to his wideouts."In November and December, he's always stepped up," Rogers said. "Eli has a Super Bowl. You can get that Eli who throws for 300, 400 yards and you can also get the Eli who can throw you picks. You can frustrate him."Our defensive line can rattle him in the pocket. And when we get the chance, we're going to have to make the turnovers. But I always put Eli up as one of the elite quarterbacks."

Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved


Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ passing game has ranked 29th or lower in each of the past four seasons.

If two practices against last year’s No. 1-ranked pass defense are any indication, the 49ers could be vastly improved under coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer.

“I think our guys were expecting to do good,” Shanahan said on Thursday after a second joint practice against the Denver Broncos in two days. “There’s a lot of stuff we can clean up. A lot of stuff we can do better. But I think our guys were happy with how they competed and, hopefully, that can continue to carry over.”

Hoyer hit more higher-percentage passes on Thursday. He teamed up with rookie Victor Bolden on his deepest completion -- down the left sideline against first-team All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris. After completing better than 80 percent of his passes against the Broncos a day earlier, Hoyer was 12 of 19 passing on Thursday.

Pierre Garçon, who figures to be Hoyer’s top target, was not as active during Thursday’s practice. But he did find himself in the middle of the action with a tussle against Harris.

Hoyer’s red-zone pass intended for slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was tipped and intercepted by safety Justin Simmons. Away from the action, Aqib Talib blocked Garçon, who retaliated by tossing him to the ground.

“That’s part of the game,” Garçon said. ‘You always expect one scuffle in joint practices. But it ended and you move on. It was nothing personal at all.”

Hoyer was especially sharp during the practices to strengthen his grasp on the team’s staring job. Meanwhile, rookie C.J. Beathard had a solid showing on Thursday. He will enter Saturday’s game after Hoyer and could play through the rest of the first half and open the third quarter.

The 49ers exited the field after their two most-significant practices feeling optimistic about where things stand.

“We did good the first day,” Garçon said. “We could’ve done better the second day. But we’re still learning each other and getting better. We still have a lot to do to get ready for the regular season, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

--Linebacker Reuben Foster wore shoulder pads and took part in all but the contact drills due to what the team described as a “mild AC joint sprain” of his right shoulder. That did not prevent Foster from getting into the middle of a skirmish that appeared to involve Broncos tackle Menelik Watson and 49ers linebacker Eli Harold.

The 49ers expect Foster to play Saturday night, Shanahan said.

--Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was pulled from practice on Thursday after experiencing soreness in his shoulder. Shanahan said Bowman's shoulder soreness is similar to what Foster experienced.

--The Broncos’ offense, which struggled to complete passes on Wednesday, made a lot more plays down the field on Thursday with Paxton Lynch at quarterback.

--Tight end Vance McDonald made an outstanding catch of a Hoyer pass at the sideline against tight coverage from safety Will Parks.

--The 49ers’ practice Thursday brought an official end to the team’s training camp. They will transition to a regular-season type of schedule next week leading up to the team’s third exhibition game, which is scheduled for Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings.

“Training camp is over, and what that means is we’re not all staying in dorms together and we’re not having night walk-throughs,” Shanahan said.

49ers making a quarterback change for preseason game vs Broncos


49ers making a quarterback change for preseason game vs Broncos

C.J. Beathard will be the No. 2 quarterback against the Broncos on Saturday night, Kyle Shanahan announced on Thursday.

In the team's first exhibition game in Kansas City, Matt Barkley was the No. 2 QB behind Brian Hoyer.

Barkley completed 10 of 17 passes for 168 yards against the Chiefs.

Beathard went 7 for 11 with 101 yards and two touchdowns.

The 49ers traded up in the 2017 draft and selected Beathard in the third round (104th overall).