CINCINNATI -- Quarterback Alex Smith saved his best for the last quarter on Sunday.After the offense muddled through an ineffective three quarters, the 49ers scored 10 fourth-quarter points in a 13-8 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.Smith completed 5 of 6 passes for 57 yards in the final quarter. He finished the game with a season-best 201 yards on 20-of-30 passing. Smith did not throw an interception, while Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton threw two fourth-quarter picks."I thought Alex played extremely well," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He really managed the game well."The 49ers put together a 10-play, 72-yard touchdown drive on their possession after the Bengals took a 6-3 lead. Cincinnati was given its scoring chance after Frank Gore's fumble at the 49ers' 16-yard line."To become the type of team that wins on the road, you need to have poise," Smith said. "The defense kept us in it all day, and special teams played well. Offensively, we have to play better. To come back and have that fourth-quarter drive says a lot.""I think guys were fired up and wanted the ball back after our lost fumble," Smith said. "I've been on teams where it's, 'Here we go again.' But it's not like that here."On the season, Smith has completed 68.9 percent of his attempts (51 of 74) for 504 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating is 91.3.Smith did not miss any action after reporting concussion symptoms following the 49ers' loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week. It didn't take Smith long Sunday to absorb a big hit. In the first quarter, he kept on a naked bootleg and took a crushing blow from Bengals cornerback Nate Clements."I heard the crowd and watched the replay," said Smith said. "It looked pretty good, but I felt fine."Smith was also sacked officially five times for minus-25 yards. In the second half, the 49ers made a change to their offensive line. Adam Snyder took over at right guard for struggling Chilo Rachal.The 49ers have allowed 11 sacks in the past two games. So what needs to change?"Nothing needs to change," Harbaugh said. "What we need to do is improve. That's what we're going to do in every area on the football team. I'm pleased with our guys. I thought they really sucked it up today."I thought they played tough. I thought they battled. That's what you want your football team to do, especially in the fourth quarter."
SANTA CLARA -- Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster was promoted into the starting lineup with the season-ending injury to veteran Malcolm Smith.
The 49ers have reason to expect him to remain a starter for a long, long time.
Coach Kyle Shanahan on Tuesday said Foster was the starter at the team’s weakside linebacker position, alongside NaVorro Bowman. But he added, tthe onus is on Foster to hold onto that position.
“He could get beat out at any time,” Shanahan said. “If our guys behind him, we’ve got some good players behind him too, if they started performing at a higher level than him, then that wouldn’t be the case.”
The 49ers released their unofficial depth chart ahead of Saturday’s exhibition game against the Denver Broncos. The depth chart does not reflect the team’s decision to switch seventh-round draft pick Adrian Colbert from cornerback to free safety.
Also, veteran Tim Barnes is listed at left guard. He started all 32 games the past two seasons with the Rams at center. He is the team’s backup center, but his ability to also fill in at guard could determine whether he wins a spot on the 53-man roster.
The depth chart does not list nickel back or slot receiver. K'Waun Williams is ahead of Will Redmond as the nickel back, and Jeremy Kerley is ahead of Trent Taylor as the team's slot receiver.
Guard Joshua Garnett and safety Jimmie Ward are listed as starters despite being unavailable due to injuries. Garnett is expected back near the start of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean up cartilage in his knee. Ward remains on physically unable to perform while rehabbing from a hamstring injry.
WR: Pierre Garçon, Jeremy Kerley, Trent Taylor/Aaron Burbridge, DeAndre Smelter/Kendrick Bourne
LT: Joe Staley, John Theus, Darrell Williams
LG: (Joshua Garnett), Zane Beadles, Tim Barnes, Erik Mangnuson
C: Daniel Kilgore, JP Flynn
RG: Brandon Fusco, Norman Price, Andrew Gardner
RT: Trent Brown, Garry Gilliam, Andrew Lauderdale
TE: Vance McDonald, George Kittle, Logan Paulsen/Blake Bell, Garrett Celek/Cole Hikutini
WR: Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, Victor Bolden/DeAndre Carter, Tim Patrick/Louis Murphy
RB: Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, Joe Williams/Kapri Bibbs, Raheem Mostert/Matt Breida
FB: Kyle Juszczyk, Tyler McCloskey
QB: Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens
LDE: Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch, Ronald Blair
LDT: Earl Mitchell, Quinton Dial, D.J. Jones
RDT: DeForest Buckner, Chris Jones, Noble Nwachukwu, Leger Douzable
RDE: Tank Carradine, Solomon Thomas,
SAM: Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson, Pita Taumoepenu
MIKE: NaVorro Bowman, Brock Coyle, Donavin Newsom
WILL: Reuben Foster, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Austin Calitro, Sean Porter
LCB: Rashard Robinson, K’Waun Williams/Will Redmond, Prince Charles Iworah, Asa Jackson
RCB: Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser, Ahkello Witherspoon/Will Davis, Adrian Colbert
FS: (Jimmie Ward), Vinnie Sunseri, Lorenzo Jerome
SS: Eric Reid, Jaquiski Tartt, Don Jones
P: Bradley Pinion
K: Robbie Gould, Nick Rose
H: Bradley Pinion
PR: Jeremy Kerley, DeAndre Carter/Trent Taylor
KOR: Raheem Mostert, Victor Bolden
LS: Kyle Nelson
Paraag Marathe is entering his 17th year with the 49ers.
Back in mid-January, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote the following:
The impediment to attracting their preferred candidates isn’t owner Jed York; apparently, it’s Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Football Operations Paraag Marathe.
On Tuesday morning, Marathe joined The Murph & Mac Show on KNBR 680 and was asked about combating those kinds of claims.
"I've got a lot of great relationships in this league and a lot of great friends in this league ... all I can do is do the best job that I can and focus on what I think is right," Marathe said. "And know that the sun rises and the sun sets and just focus on that."
Has Marathe had to train himself to develop thick skin?
"Sure it's frustrating, right? But at the same time, I gotta say I get it, too," he answered. "We've had a lot of turnover, we haven't had winning seasons recently and I'm one of the one constants. I've been here.
"I'm not just an employee here. I'm also a fan of the team. I have been my whole life. So I get it. I understand fans' frustrations. If I was a fan and I didn't know, I would also say, 'Hey, well Paraag's been here the whole time. How come he's been there? What's he have to do with it?'
"I get that, too. Ultimately, we're judged on wins and losses and I'm a part of that. And hopefully I'm a part of the solution of getting this thing turned around."
As NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco wrote back in February:
A year ago, Marathe officially was replaced as team president and became the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations. His duties with the football team have not changed.
In fact, York and Marathe roles with the organization took on a much-greater significance after the decision was made to fire coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke.