Quarters coverage: 49ers exhibition storylines


Quarters coverage: 49ers exhibition storylines

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers' new coaching staff continues its crash course, as it learns about the players on the team with cuts quickly approaching.
The third exhibition game Saturday night at Candlestick Park against the Houston Texans should provide Jim Harbaugh, the coordinators and the position coaches a valuable tool for evaluations. After all, the 49ers -- and all NFL teams -- must cut from a roster maximum of 90 players to the regular-season limit of 53 in just seven days.The first round of cuts comes Tuesday, as roster must be trimmed to a maximum of 80 players. On Saturday, Sept. 3, teams must reach the regular-season limit of 53 players.Here's a quarter-by-quarter look at what to expect in the 49ers' third exhibition game:First quarter
Quarterback Alex Smith will start the game, Harbaugh said. And after the team's first two possessions, rookie Colin Kaepernick will enter the game. At least that's what Harbaugh said on Thursday. It's uncertain how much, exactly, Smith will play in the final exhibition game, so this might be Smith's lastbest chance to work at game speed against angry defensive players before the Sept. 11 start of the regular season against the Seattle Seahawks. The most overt competition on offense is at center, where Adam Snyder has yet to be moved from the spot he occupied when camp opened. Snyder initially replaced David Baas, whom the New York Giants signed in free agency. The 49ers were pleased with Snyder at the spot, but they went ahead and signed veteran Jonathan Goodwin to a three-year contract. Snyder still remains atop the depth chart. Both players will see plenty of action against the Texans' first unit.MAIOCCO: Third exhibition critical for 49ers QBs
Second quarter
Is Kaepernick ready to step into an NFL regular-season game? The passing stats are one thing, but Harbaugh will be more interested to see how Kaepernick gets the 49ers in and out of the huddle. He'll be interested to see if Kaepernick makes the necessary pre-snap reads and adjustments. And, then, he'll pay particular attention to how Kaepernick reacts when Wade Phillips' defense tries to disguise coverages out of their 3-4 scheme. On the defensive side of the ball, right outside linebacker Parys Haralson is trying to hold off rookie Aldon Smith for the starting job. The 49ers selected Smith with the No. 7 overall pick, so the club is expecting immediate contributions. If Smith doesn't win the job after this game, then he might not be in the starting lineup for the first regular-season game, and that would mark a bit of an upset.Third quarter
Veteran cornerback Shawntae Spencer, who continues to nurse a left hamstring strain, has not taken part in a fully padded practice since training camp opened. Now, it seems his standing on the team is largely out of his control. Second-year player Tramaine Brock, an undrafted free agent a year ago from obscure Bellhaven, had the most consistent and injury-free camp of any of the 49ers' cornerbacks.
REWIND: Longshot Brock makes most of opporunitites
Tarell Brown missed four practices and the first exhibition game because of an injury. Since he returned, he has performed well and placed himself in the mix to open the season as a starter for the first time in his career. Pass defense is one thing. Pass offense is another. The 49ers have a lot of receivers in the mix for roster spots. Ted Ginn has the inside track for one of the backup jobs, based largely on his prowess in the return game. Others who are trying to assure themselves a spot on the 53-man roster behind Braylon Edwards, Michael Crabtree and Joshua Morgan are Kyle Williams, Lance Long, Ronald Johnson and Kevin Jurovich. Dominique Zeigler, activated on the PUP list this week, is healthy and ready to make up for lost time.Fourth quarter
Keep an eye on the running backs. Starter Frank Gore probably will not see much action in the game. So the competition will rage between rookie Kendall Hunter and second-year pro Anthony Dixon for the backup job. Hunter tore through the Raiders' second defense a week ago. He and Dixon will get a lot of action against the Texans' starters. Who runs more decisively? Who is able to provide ample pass protection and be spot-on with blitz pickups? That will determine which running back earns the trust of the coaching staff. And who is opening the best holes for the backs? Rookie Bruce Miller has seemingly done enough to earn a roster spot with his versatility. He is providing serious competition for veteran Moran Norris. But how would that play in the locker room? Norris is Gore's best friend on the team. Along the offensive line, the 49ers' first seven spots appear set with Snyder, Goodwin, Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Chilo Rachal, Anthony Davis and reserve tackle Alex Boone. Rookie Daniel Kilgore probably has a roster spot locked up. Veteran Tony Wragge and Mike Person are Nos. 9 and 10.NEWS: More talks planned, 49ers' Gore frustrated
Please leave pre-game questions in the comments section below and I'll answer as many as possible prior to Saturday's night's game.

Report: Colts request permission to interview Paton

Report: Colts request permission to interview Paton

George Paton, one of the remaining possibilities for the 49ers’ general manager position, is reportedly on the Indianapolis Colts’ list of candidates to fill their vacancy, too.

The Colts have requested permission to speak with Paton, the assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported on Monday.

Paton is scheduled for a second interview with the 49ers on Friday, along with Atlanta offensive coordinator and San Francisco’s presumptive head coach, in Atlanta.

The Colts also requested permission to interview Seattle co-directors of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, USA Today reported. Kirchern and Fitterer also interviewed with the 49ers. Kirchner pulled his name from consideration, while the 49ers informed Fitterer he would not be asked back for a second interview.

The Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson on Saturday. Owner Jim Irsay said Indianapolis’ vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III would be a candidate. The 49ers also interviewed Raye, who was informed he would not be included in a second round of interviews.

Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is the other known candidate for the 49ers’ general manager position that opened when the firing of Trent Baalke was announced at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season.

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.