49ers Mailbag II: Is Aldon Smith ready to start?

556100.jpg

49ers Mailbag II: Is Aldon Smith ready to start?

Rookie Aldon Smith recorded one tackle and no sacks in his first three games of the season. Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, he recorded five tackles and 1.5 sacks.This edition of 49ers Mailbag leads off with a question about the No. 7 overall pick . . . Q: When do you see Aldon Smith becoming a starter? I'd like to see him play more. @sf_game
My answer: As long as Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson are healthy, I do not envision Aldon Smith moving into the starting lineup this season.The reason is because Haralson is a better outside linebacker, and Smith is a better defensive end. When the 49ers have their base defense on the field, Haralson plays right outside linebacker.And when the 49ers go with their nickel pass defense, featuring a four-man line, Smith takes his position at defensive end.Last week, the Eagles called 60 pass plays. They featured a lot of three-receiver formations. Therefore, the 49ers countered with five and six defensive backs. In those situations, Smith was on the field. So he played the majority of the game over Haralson.
Smith took advantage of his extended playing time to produce his best game of the season. But it was entirely as a defensive endpass rusher.Smith will not play as much Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Why? Because the Bucs do not use many three-receiver personnel packages other than third downs, two-minute drills and catch-up situations.Q: Do you expect Anthony Dixon to really get any more playtime versus the Bucs? @travisbarnette
My answer: No. I think the way the 49ers rotated their backs against the Eagles is pretty much how it's going to be for a while. Dixon is in the coaches' doghouse, as suggested by his comments to CSNBayArea.com on Friday. I expect Gore to start and play about 23 of the game with Kendall Hunter seeing the rest of the action. If Dixon plays on offense, I don't believe it'll be for more than a couple snaps.Q: Will Tampa Bay copy the Eagles and put Aqib Talib on Vernon Davis? If not, can either of Tampa's safeties keep up? @Msclemons67
My answer: It's an option, but I would not think it'll be a play-in, play-out strategy. Nnamdi Asomugha (6-foot-2) might be the biggest cornerback in the league. That's why the Eagles matched him up against Davis. Talib is 6-1, so it's possible he could be assigned to Davis on some calls. But I don't believe the Bucs will put one defender on Davis. More than likely, they'll continue to play their Tampa-2 defense, drop the middle linebacker deep and have their safeties attempt to pinch off that deep seam route to Davis.
Q: How much of an impact do you think we could see in the run game with RJF over Ice? @edbuto
My answer: Isaac Sopoaga had an outstanding year last season at left defensive end. And he has proven to be an upgrade over Aubrayo Franklin through four games at nose tackle. Sopoaga has been stout in the run game. Ricky Jean Francois is 35 pounds lighter. His job will be to keep the Bucs' guards and center from getting out to the linebackers and blocking Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. I believe there will be an impact. The Bucs will go after Jean Francois. And if they see a weakness there, they'll exploit it throughout the game.Q: What is the team doing to battle staph infections, and prevent other players from getting it? Serious issue! @Ali_Q8T
My answer: Yes, it is a serious issue. When 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was asked Friday what precautions the team has taken, he declined to answer. Seems to me that the club would want to talk about what it has done, rather than let there be any doubt. I do know that Sopoaga was kept away from the 49ers' practice facility during the week. The 49ers were on their way back from Philadelphia after 10 days away from Santa Clara when Sopoaga first began feeling ill. He was diagnosed with a staph infection -- the fourth time in four years a 49ers player has been affected.

Comings and goings: 49ers coaching staff

Comings and goings: 49ers coaching staff

First-year coach Kyle Shanahan is close to completing his 49ers coaching staff.

Shanahan will handle the duties of the offensive coordinator, the position he held with Houston, Washington and Atlanta over the past nine NFL seasons.

Robert Saleh is the 49ers' new defensive coordinator, while Richard Hightower has been hired as the special-teams coordiator.

Here's a look at the 49ers' coaching staffs under Shanahan and last season under Chip Kelly:

2017 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (2016 job)
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan (Falcons, offensive coordinator)
Defensive coordinator: Robert Saleh (Jaguars, linebackers coach)
Special teams coordinator: Richard Hightower (Bears, assistant special teams)
Assistant head coach/tight ends: Jon Embree (Buccaneers, tight ends)
Run game specialist: Mike McDaniel (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Quarterbacks: Rich Scangarello (Wagner, offensive coordinator)
Running backs: Bobby Turner (Falcons, running backs)
Wide receivers: Mike LaFleur (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Offensive line: Vacant
Offensive assistant: T.C. McCartney (LSU, offensive assistant)
Senior defensive assistant: Jason Tarver (49ers, outside linebackers)
Defensive line: Jeff Zgonina (N.Y. Giants, assistant defensive line)
Linebackers: Johnny Holland (Browns, inside linebackers)
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Offensive quality control: Taylor Embree (Chiefs, defensive assistant)
Defensive quality control: Bobby Slowik
Head strength and conditioning: Ray Wright

* * *

2016 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (current status)
Head coach: Chip Kelly
Offensive coordinator: Curtis Modkins (Bears, running backs)
Defensive coordinator: Jim O’Neil
Special teams coordinator: Derius Swinton
Quarterbacks: Ryan Day (Ohio State, quarterbacks)
Running backs: Tom Rathman
Wide receivers: Bob Bicknell
Tight ends: Jeff Nixon (Baylor, co-offensive coordinator/running backs)
Offensive line: Pat Flaherty (Jaguars, offensive line)
Assistant offensive line: Eric Wolford (South Carolina, offensive line)
Defensive line: Jerry Azzinaro (Cal, defensive line)
Assistant defensive line: Vince Oghobaase
Outside linebackers: Jason Tarver (49ers, senior defensive assistant)
Inside linebacker: Joe Bowden
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Assistant defensive backs: Roy Anderson (Bears, assistant secondary)
Assistant special teams: Michael Clay
Offensive quality control: Mick Lombardi (Jets, offensive assistant/assistant QBs coach)
Defensive quality control: Tem Lukabu
Senior analyst: Dana Bible
Director of human performance: Mark Uyeyama

Report: 49ers receive permission from Broncos to interview O-line coach

Report: 49ers receive permission from Broncos to interview O-line coach

John Benton, who coached on the same staff during Kyle Shanahan’s four seasons with the Houston Texans, has reportedly received permission from the Denver Broncos to interview with the 49ers.

The Broncos hired Benton on Jan. 15 to work as the team’s assistant offensive line coach under line coach Jeff Davidson.

But Denver coach Vance Joseph and general manager John Elway provided Benton permission to interview with the 49ers, Denver’s 9News reported. The Sacramento Bee was first to report the 49ers were looking at Benton.

The offensive line coach is the last major position that remains vacant on Shanahan’s staff.

Benton worked last season as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).

Shanahan’s first NFL coaching job was with Houston in 2006, when he coached wide receivers. Shanahan became the quarterbacks coach with the Texans in 2007 before spending the next two seasons as offensive coordinator under then-coach Gary Kubiak.

The 49ers announced nine additions to the coaching staff on Friday.

Also, the 49ers are expected to hire Daniel Bullocks as assistant defensive backs coach, according to The Sporting News. Bullocks worked in the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Jaguars' linebackers coach last season, Robert Saleh, is the 49ers' new defensive coodinator. Bullocks appeared in 31 games in three NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and '08.