Last chance: Bakhtiari works without a safety net


Last chance: Bakhtiari works without a safety net

SANTA CLARA -- Outside linebacker Eric Bakhtiari has made a living bouncing around the NFL since 2008. But what worked for him in the past is no longer an option this season.
This is a make-or-break training camp for a guy who attracted interest from one NFL team in the offseason.And it just so happened when the phone rang, the person on the other end was the first one who gave him hope he could play at the highest level of the sport.Bakhtiari was prepared to enroll at the University of Arizona after being a one-year high school starter at Burlingame. He was not going to play football. But when he visited a friend at the University of San Diego in March before his freshman season, he saw an opportunity to continue to play college football at a lower level of competition.
After red-shirting his first year at San Diego, he was among eight players chosen to interview coaching candidates. There was one candidate who stood out among the others.Jim Harbaugh.After spring drills that first year, Harbaugh met with all 90 players. What he said to Bakhtiari that day in 2004 changed the youngster's commitment to the game."He told me -- I vividly remember this -- I walked in and we were talking and he said, 'We don't think you can be a good player here; we think you can be a great one.' And I've always remembered that," Bakhtiari said.What was his initial reaction?"I thought somebody else was in the room and he wasn't talking to me," Bakhtiari said.Bakhtiari became a three-time all-conference selection. In 2006 and '07, he was selected as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year."It gave me confidence and made me put more pressure on myself instead of being just a guy," Bakhtiari said. "Knowing the expectations were set for me, it kind of curbed my social activities on the weekends. Everything I did was geared toward football, in terms of my diet, when I went to bed, my workouts and what time I went out on weekends and what time I came back home."After going undrafted, Bakhtiari set forth on a remarkable NFL journey. He mostly lived a week-to-week existence on practice squads throughout the league, earning approximately 5,000 a week.From 2008 to 2011, he made stops with San Diego, the 49ers, back to San Diego, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, back to the 49ers, Miami, Kansas City, Cleveland, and back to Kansas City.Through it all, he has suited up for only three regular-season games. The Titans promoted him from the practice squad in 2009 for three games. He did not play any defense, but he was on the field for 47 plays on special teams.And don't bother asking him what he remembers from his first game: Nov. 13, 2009, vs. the St. Louis Rams. He sustained a concussion on kickoff coverage and he has only a hazy recollection of his NFL debut.Bakhtiari, 27, has a chance this summer to create new memories. The 49ers have a shortage of outside linebackers with injuries sidelining rookies Darius Fleming and Cam Johnson, both of whom were draft picks.Harbaugh personally invited Bakhtiari this spring to take part in a mass workout for veteran players prior to the draft at the 49ers' practice facility. Bakhtiari was brought back for a follow-up before the club signed him."I think a lot of him as a football player, as a person, and a guy," Harbaugh said. "Very talented, hard working guy, who you can count on. He's a count-on-me guy."The 49ers hope to count on Bakhtiari for more the same after an impressive opener to the exhibition season. He recorded two sacks Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings to keep himself in the conversation for a spot on the 53-man roster."For a guy that's only got one year in the league or whatever it is, credited, he's got a lot of experience because he's been in a bunch of camps," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "He's a smart player. He's experienced and it showed in that game there. He took advantage of his opportunities."But if he does not make the 49ers' roster, he can forget about getting a call to the team's practice squad. He no longer has practice-squad eligibility. And there's no way to spin that as good news for Bakhtiari with each team required to trim 37 players from Aug. 27 to Aug. 31."I think any time you eliminate yourself from having a job in the NFL, it's never a good thing," Bakhtiari said. "It's a special place to be. It's an honor and I've appreciated the years of service I've had here. I don't have that safety net of the practice squad."

49ers release Ian Williams

49ers release Ian Williams

The 49ers on Thursday released nose tackle Ian Williams off the reserve/non-football injury list with an injury settlement.

The move, which was disclosed on the NFL, daily transaction report, is a procedural move, according to sources. It allows the 49ers to provide Williams with more compensation than he would have received if he had remained on reserve/non-football injury for the entire season. The move does not preclude the 49ers from re-signing Williams in the future.

The 49ers originally agreed to a five-year contract extension with Williams in the offseason. However, the contract was amended to a one-year deal after he underwent a team physical after undergoing surgery on his left leg.

Williams, 26, is a five-year NFL veteran. He originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame in 2011.

He played his first 16-game season in 2015. He ranked third on the 49ers with 85 total tackles, according to the stats compiled by the coaching staff.

Williams took over as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle in 2013 after the free-agent departure of Isaac Sopoaga.

But he started just 10 games over the next two seasons due to two fractures of his lower leg.

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly's offense with the 49ers is his slowest-paced version of his four NFL seasons.


“I think that’s what fits with this group of guys we have on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said this week.

Kelly did not expound on that thought. But it could be safe to assume his thinking is the same reason why it does not make sense to enter a Ford Pinto to race against pro stock dragsters.

The 49ers’ offense is running more plays this season. The 49ers snap the ball every 24.4 seconds on offense. That’s down from 26.1 seconds last season, and 29.7 seconds in Jim Harbaugh’s final season in 2014.

Last season in Philadelphia, Kelly’s team snapped the ball every 22.6 seconds. In Kelly’s final season at Oregon in 2012, the Ducks snapped the ball every 20.5 seconds.

“I don’t think we’re playing fast right now,” Kelly said. “So if someone said, ‘How are you playing offensively?’ I don’t think we’re playing fast offensively. I think we’re just not going back (to huddle). We’re saving seven yards of run time for our offensive line because they don’t have to run back in the huddle, get a play called and then do it.

“We’re just calling it at the line of scrimmage. So I think it’s a lot of what Denver used to do when Peyton (Manning) was there. But there’s a lot of times that we’re under 15 seconds when we’re snapping the ball and getting the play off. So we’re not playing fast and we’re not calling tempo-type plays in those situations. We’re just calling plays.”

Kelly said part of the problem is that the 49ers are not converting third downs. The team has a 36.3 percent success rate on third downs, which is actually an improvement over the 30.5 percent success of last season.

But the 49ers’ overall lack of offensive success this season cannot be camouflaged.

The 49ers are averaging just 4.5 yards per play. The 49ers have not averaged fewer than 5 yards per play since 2007, when Alex Smith sustained a shoulder injury and was replaced by Trent Dilfer.

While the 49ers are running more offensive plays than it has in the past, so is the opposition. The 49ers have averaged 64.3 plays per game. The 49ers have defended 69.9 plays per game – only 2.3 more plays than last season but 8.1 more plays than in 2014.

The biggest problem for the offense has been its run defense. The league’s worst run defense has surrendered 185.1 yards per game and is on pace to give up 2,962 yards this season, which would be the most in the NFL since the 1980 New Orleans Saints yielded 3,106 rushing yards.