Culliver has chance to make impact for 49ers

Culliver has chance to make impact for 49ers

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NEW ORLEANS -- In the first two weeks of training camp, 49ers' rookie cornerback Chris Culliver put himself to compete for a significant regular-season role.Now, comes his next big test.
Culliver is expected to see a lot of action at right cornerback Friday night in the 49ers' exhibition opener against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome. The Saints owned the third-ranked passing game in the NFL last season.Veteran Carlos Rogers had a handle on the 49ers' starting job on the left side. The right side remains up for grabs. Shawntae Spencer, who has started every game the past two seasons, has missed eight days of practices with a left hamstring strain. With the new coaching staff, Spencer still must earn his job.Also, Tarell Brown missed the past four practices with an undisclosed injury. Second-year player Tramaine Brock has played well, but he sat out most of Wednesday's practice.VIDEO: 49ers camp report -- Preparing for Game 1
The door has swung open for Culliver, a third-round draft pick from South Carolina who worked with the first-team defense when the 49ers last hit the practice field."I'm still learning, still going through the process of learning," Culliver said. "It's coming fast. When I know what I'm doing out there, I feel like I play real well. When I get to thinking, that gets me out of my position."Culliver is 6-foot, 200 pounds. He has good speed, and has looked fluid in hanging with the 49ers' group of wide receivers in practices. Now, he'll get his chance to show what he can do against the Saints' group of wideouts. (Leading pass-catcher Marques Colston will not play after undergoing offseason knee surgery.)"The good thing about Chris, each week, if you broke our training camp into Week 1, Week 2, and now we go play a game, each week it's been 'arrow-up' and 'arrow-up' again in the second week," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "And I'd like to see that continue, 'arrow-up' in the preseason game."He definitely has all the tools from size and speed, athletic, and what it takes to play in the National Football League. It means a lot to him to be good. You see him working hard between drills, getting extra coaching. He's got the tools, but he's not a carpenter, yet."

Injury report: Staley's streak of 92 consecutive starts in serious jeopardy

Injury report: Staley's streak of 92 consecutive starts in serious jeopardy

Five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury, the 49ers announced on Friday.

Staley has the third-longest active streak among offensive tackles with 92 consecutive starts. Only Cleveland's Joe Thomas (156) and Oakland's Donald Penn (153) rank ahead of him on the list.

Coach Chip Kelly said Friday morning on his weekly show on KNBR that the 49ers have two more days of training “and then we’ll see what Joe’s status is going into the game on Sunday.”

Kelly added, “That’s kind of what we normally do with everybody. The best thing to say with Joe is he’s day-to-day. We’re hopeful, but we have two more days out on the field.”

With Staley not expected to play, the 49ers will likely shift left guard Zane Beadles to left tackle. Andrew Tiller, who started the first five games of the season at right guard, would likely start at left guard.

The 49ers expect outside linebacker Aaron Lynch to return to action on Sunday after missing five games with a high-ankle sprain, Kelly said on KNBR. Lynch is listed as questionable, along with defensive tackle Quinton Dial, who has a left elbow injury

The Jets will be without at least one starter. Right tackle Breno Giacomini was ruled out due to injuries. Brent Qvale, a third-year player from Nebraska, is scheduled to make his fifth NFL start.

Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.

T Joe Staley (hamstring)
DT Quinton Dial (elbow)
LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)

RB Khiry Robinson (lower leg)
DT Steve McLendon (hamstring)
T Breno Giacomini (back, calf, shoulder)
LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle)
S Antonio Allen (concussion)
WR Jalin Marshall (concussion)
DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)

49ers expect Aaron Lynch to return to action vs Jets

49ers expect Aaron Lynch to return to action vs Jets

Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch has missed give games with a high-ankle sprain and still appears to be restricted while moving in pre-practice drills.

But 49ers coach Chip Kelly said Friday morning on his radio show on KNBR that he anticipates Lynch will be able to get back on the field Sunday against the New York Jets for just his fourth game of the season.

Kelly was asked about why the 49ers have not promoted outside linebacker Marcus Rush from the practice squad. Rush led the 49ers with six sacks in the exhibition season. His best game came against the Denver Broncos, beating former Nevada tackle Kyle Roberts for three sacks. Roberts is not on an NFL roster or practice squad.

“We haven’t had an opportunity at outside linebacker,” Kelly said. “We didn’t put Aaron on IR, and we anticipate getting Aaron back this week. So we really don’t have a spot at that position he plays.

“If we were to lose a player at outside linebacker, then we’d certainly think about activating him. But we ahven’t lost an outside linebacker, so we still have Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Tank Carradine and Aaron. We carry four outside linebackers on our team. Aaron’s been out for a little bit here with his ankle, but it wasn’t a season-ending injury, so we just really don’t have a spot for him.”

Lynch has one sack in three games this season. He was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse. He has not returned to action since sustaining an ankle sprain in the Oct. 23 game against Tampa Bay.