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."

Staley sits out 49ers practice with hamstring injury

Staley sits out 49ers practice with hamstring injury

SANTA CLARA – Left tackle Joe Staley, who has not missed a game since 2010, did not practice Thursday due to a hamstring injury.

The 49ers’ five-time Pro Bowl performer has the third-longest active streak among offensive tackles with 92 consecutive starts. Only Cleveland's Joe Thomas (156) and Oakland's Donald Penn (152) have started more consecutive games.

Staley’s availability for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets at Levi’s Stadium is in question after he was held out of practice on Thursday after going through the full workload on Wednesday.

If Staley is unable to play, the 49ers would likely move left guard Zane Beadles to left tackle and insert Andrew Tiller at left guard. Tiller started the first five games of the season at right guard before rookie Joshua Garnett took over.

Did not practice
T Joe Staley (hamstring)
DT Quinton Dial (elbow)
DT Glenn Dorsey (knee)
RB Shaun Draughn (ribs)
LB Eli Harold (toe)
LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)
Full participation
DT Ronald Blair (hamstring)
C Daniel Kilgore (hamstring)

Did not practice
S Antonio Allen (concussion)
T Breno Giacomini (back, calf, shoulder)
WR Jalin Marshall (concussion)
DT Steve McLendon (hamstring)
RB Khiry Robinson (lower leg)
LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle)
S Calvin Pryor (concussion)
DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
Full participation
RB Matt Forte (knee, foot)
WR Brandon Marshall (knee, foot)
CB Nick Marshall (ankle)
DE Leonard Williams (illness)
CB Marcus Williams (ankle)

Pearl Harbor speech: Admiral calls out Kaepernick, others for anthem kneeling

Pearl Harbor speech: Admiral calls out Kaepernick, others for anthem kneeling

Wednesday was the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Although he didn't call out Colin Kaepernick by name, Admiral Harry B. Harris gave a speech that included a message intended for a certain group of athletes and/or entertainers.

“You can bet that the men and women we honor today, and those who died that fateful morning 75 years ago, never took a knee and never failed to stand whenever they heard our national anthem being played."

Many of those in attendance gave the Admiral a standing ovation.

During the preseason, Kaepernick remained seated on the 49ers' team bench during the national anthem.

After sparking a national controversy, Kaepernick began kneeling as opposed to sitting.

After the 49ers' loss to the Bears on Sunday, Kaepernick said he will continue his demonstration moving forward.

"Today we have a precious opportunity to reflect -- to reflect on what it means to be a patriot, to reflect on what it means to be a nation tested by war, and to reflect on both the costs and the blessings of liberty," Admiral Harris added. "To America's World War II patriots here and watching at home -- we will never forget your courage under considerable fire and seemingly insurmountable odds.

"Because of you, our future remains bright. We owe you an immeasurable debt and we can't thank you enough for answering the call of duty when Lady Liberty needed it the most."