Spencer remains ready despite demotion

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Spencer remains ready despite demotion

SANTA CLARA -- For five of his seven NFL seasons, 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer's role with the 49ers was never in question.Spencer, 29, who entered this season with a streak of 32 consecutive starts, knew in the past that he would line up every game as a starter.
On Sunday, for the first time in his career, he was delivered the news he would not be one of the 46 players allowed to suit up for the 49ers. He watched his team's 19-11 victory over the Washington Redskins from the sideline.Spencer is healthy after recovering from a hyperextended toe -- known as "turf toe" -- sustained Oct. 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles. But, now, Spencer is the team's No. 5 cornerback behind starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, and behind youngsters Chris Culliver and Tramaine Brock.Spencer lined up with the first-team defense when training camp opened. But he sustained a torn hamstring on the third day of practice and aggravated it a couple weeks later.After getting healthy, Spencer stepped in and played well as the No. 3 cornerback against Cincinnati and Philadelphia when Brock was sidelined with a hand injury.But, then, Spencer was injured again. And, now, Culliver is the third cornerback. Brock is No. 4. And Spencer does not have a role on game days.
"I wasn't too surprised," Spencer said of receiving the news he would not suit up against the Redskins."The injuries. There really wasn't a chance to participate in training camp. I guess they (the 49ers coaches) weren't able to make an assessment of what kind of player I was in training camp. That, on top of some other things . . . some guys are playing great. No, I really wasn't too surprised."Spencer started 12 games as a rookie in 2004 after the 49ers acquired him in the second round of the draft. He started 14 games in 2005 and 13 in 2006, as he missed games due to ankle and quadriceps injuries.He lost his starting job in 2007 when the 49ers added veteran free agents Nate Clements and Walt Harris. He was back in the same role as the team's third cornerback in 2008 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury early in the season.But, then, Spencer rebounded to start every game in 2009 and 2010."It's a different experience," Spencer said of his current situation. "But at the same time, winning cures everything. So it's not as bad."I take it for what it is. Keep working for what it is I'm trying to accomplish: to get better each day and go from there."The 49ers needed all five cornerbacks to play significant roles in the first five games of the season, so Spencer might end up with a prominent role again this season."That's the NFL in general," he said. "You never know. So you always got to prepare like you may be a play or two away from always being in the game. It's part of being professional athlete. You have to always prepare like you're going to play." Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked Wednesday how guard Chilo Rachal and Spencer, two starters of previous seasons, have handled their new roles as reserves. In his answer, Harbaugh focused on Rachal, who suits up for games and enters on special teams for certain specialty plays on offense."They've really been team guys, especially Chilo," Harbaugh said. "I really have to take my hat off to him. He is really chomping at the bit to be in there, after practice, before practice. Really on point. His time will come again and he plays and contributes for us in our extra O-linemen package. He's on field goal. He's on kickoff return. He's preparing like a starter and that's how we think of him. (I'm) especially pleased with him."

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

PHOENIX – Coach Kyle Shanahan walked into a position with the 49ers in which he had no quarterbacks on the roster.

On the first two days of free agency, the 49ers added Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. He determined they were better fits for the offense he would be installing over Colin Kaepernick, who started 64 regular-season and postseason games for the 49ers over the past 4 ½ seasons.

Shanahan appeared to be looking for quarterbacks who are more proficient at going through progressions and making plays from the pocket. Kaepernick was not deemed as a good fit for Shanahan's offense.

“Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things,” Shanahan said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I think Colin has a certain skillset that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in.

“When we first looked at it, you got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to put in a different type of offense.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. General manager John Lynch has confirmed the 49ers would have released Kaepernick if he had not opted out of his deal.

“The type of offense I wanted to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ top target in free agency was Hoyer, who enters his ninth NFL season with his sixth different team. Shanahan was offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 in Hoyer’s second and final season with the club.

Hoyer started five games with Chicago in 2016 before getting sidelined with broken left arm. Hoyer completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions in 200 attempts.

“All these questions about what I like in a quarterback, Brian is like that,” Shanahan said. “He’s obsessed with the game. He will learn your offense. He’ll be able to execute and run it. That gives other guys a chance to perform in your offense. If your quarterback can’t execute it and go through it, it doesn’t always matter what the O-line or the receivers are doing.

“With Brian, you have a very smart guy who works at it, will hang in the pocket and is fearless, will keep his eyes down the field and deliver the ball to the right spots. It gives people a chance to be successful.”

The 49ers also reached a contract agreement with Barkley, who started six games with the Bears due to injuries to Jay Cutler and Hoyer. Barkley saw the most extensive playing time of his career. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Just watching Matt since college, Matt’s always been a solid player, even coming out and playing at an early age at (USC),” Shanahan said. “He’s battle-tested in that way. He’s gone through the pressure of college, the pressure of the draft, being in the NFL, being with some different teams. Even watching Matt in Chicago this year, I think he played better this year than he has throughout his career. That means the guy is continuing to work at it.”

The 49ers figure to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, so the team is not finished at the quarterback position.

“We’ll look to add anyone who can really help us,” Shanahan said. “I’m very happy with the two we got. You know we’re not only going to take two to camp. So we got to see how the draft works out and then you see what else is out there.”

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

PHOENIX – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he does not believe quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” in his attempt to continue his career.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during his press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings.

“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams. But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman this week was asked on ESPN’s "First Take" whether he felt Kaepernick was being blackballed.

"I'm sure he is," Sherman answered. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand."

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the 49ers have not had any contact with Kaepernick since he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick on Feb. 22 in Santa Clara. The 49ers signed free-agent quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley have shown no interest in re-signing Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, created a controversy last season when he opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has decided to stand for the national anthem this season.

Earlier in the day, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it was “stupid” and “intellectually lazy” to think teams have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Last week, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, John’s brother, said Kaepernick is still an outstanding player and can win championships.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” John Harbaugh said. “I agree with Jim. He can win games for people.”