49ers

Healthy Jacobs forces issue on special teams

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Healthy Jacobs forces issue on special teams

SANTA CLARA -- Brandon Jacobs came off the practice field from his individual workout Tuesday and went into the locker room where the media waited to hear the status of his injured left knee.

Im ready to play. Its nothing now. Its all gone now, Jacobs said.

The knee injury has kept Jacobs out of the first four games of the season. But before the 30-year-old running back can return to play his first game, he has to return to a full practice with his team, which he has not yet done.

Hopefully I can get out and go practice this week take some reps and do some hard running and see where things go from there, Jacobs said. The hard running is in me to be that way, but I want to go out and be able to get out and do some fancy fast running and really put em down and pick em up and see how things feel. I just finished running outside, I ran some 60s. Thats as far as I can run. I felt pretty good. Its the little kinks I gotta run out, but I feel good.

The 49ers brought Jacobs in on a one-year deal before the start of the season, hoping to cash in on his explosive power. That power showed during the preseason where he was a perfect four-for-four in converting all of his short-yardage situations into first downs. He gained eight yards on his only carry on a first-and-10, the same play in which he injured his knee. But Jacobs feels hes close to a return.

STUHLBARG: Jacobs -- 'I want to get hit'

I feel good about my explosiveness. Ive got fresh legs other than the injury. My legs are pretty fresh. They havent been banged on like a lot of these guys in the league, Jacobs said. I know its coming, but I feel good, just leaving it up to coach and our medical staff to put me where they think I should be.

Where the coaches think Jacobs should be come game time against Buffalo creates an interesting choice for them. The 49ers' stable of running backs is full and doing just fine with the overall running game ranked third best in the league. But Jacobs' power is needed on third downs. San Francisco converted only 4-of-12 (33) third downs against a Jets defense that at the time was the worst in the league on third downs. San Francisco's offense currently ranks 22nd in the league in third down efficiency.

Activating Jacobs to help bolster their third down struggles will leave the 49ers short-handed elsewhere. More than likely, a player on special teams will have to be inactive for Jacobs to be a go. Jacobs is one of the few players on the roster who does not play a dual role, though he's not opposed to it.

I havent been in the special teams meetings, but whatever they need, Jacobs said. Coach, hell come to me, hell talk to me but nothings been spoke of yet.

MAIOCCO: 49ers offensive review -- Running backs

But the possibility of having Jacobs available to help keep drives going seems to be worth the risk.

You put a guy that size and with his power and strength behind that offensive line, said fullback Bruce Miller, I dont think youre going to see him going backwards. Hes going to fall forward and get the tough yards that we need and move the chains.

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

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AP

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

SANTA CLARA – After spending the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, inside linebacker Brock Coyle knows how it is supposed to look.

And he believes the 49ers have gotten off to a good start under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who has installed a scheme based on the Seahawks’ blueprint.

“What’s really cool about this defense is if you look at Seattle, Jacksonville and Atlanta, they all have their different traits, their different personalties and their characteristics,” Coyle said. “And we’re building our own identity on defense.

“You see guys flying around and growing. And this was just our second regular-season game together in this defense.”

Saleh uses such terms as “all gas no brakes” and “extreme violence” to describe the kind of style he wants to see from his defense. In the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers seemed to compete physically with the Seahawks for the first time in a long time.

On the first possession of the game, 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt set the tone when he separated Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham from the ball with a big hit. Graham was never a factor in the game, catching just one pass for 1 yard.

“If you’re looking from a progress standpoint, I don’t look at so much production as much as what it looks like on tape and the violence, the speed, attacking the ball, that’s what I’m excited about,” Saleh said.

The 49ers will have another chance on a quick turnaround to establish that identity on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster will miss his second game in a row with a high-ankle sprain. Ray-Ray Armstrong started against Seattle, alongside NaVorro Bowman, but Saleh said Coyle also fits into his plan.

Coyle entered the game at Seattle in the first half in place of Armstrong, and Saleh hinted he could use both players more interchangeably until Foster returns.

“He deserves it,” Saleh said of Coyle. “He works his tail off and he works hard and we wanted to make sure that we got him some more reps. And to be honest with you, I feel he should probably get a little bit more.

“He’s a great communicator and knows everybody’s job on the football field. He’s very, very strong at the point of attack and he is pretty athletic and fast.”

The 49ers' physicality is showing up on the early downs, as the defense leads the league in allowing just 2.7 yards per play on first downs. But the 49ers have to get a lot better on the down that matters most. The 49ers rank 23rd on third downs, allowing the opposition through two games to convert 46.9 percent of their opportunities.

“Third down is a major emphasis -- every week it is," Saleh said. "We faced 12 more plays than we needed to that first drive just because a lack of execution on that first third-down and 9. We were in great position to get off the field.

"We’ve got to tackle and that takes all 11 running to the ball because a lot of times that first guy does miss, but we can help ourselves a lot by being better on third down for sure.”

Former 49ers receiver-turned actor, artist dies

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AP

Former 49ers receiver-turned actor, artist dies

Before he was an actor, a poet and a painter, Bernie Casey was a professional football player.

Casey died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 78.

The 49ers selected Casey in the first round of the 1961 NFL draft with the No. 9 overall selection out of Bowling Green. He was a college teammate of Jack Harbaugh, father of Jim and John Harbaugh.

Casey led the 49ers in receiving in 1962, ’63 and ’64. He appeared in 79 games in six seasons with the 49ers before a trade sent him to the Los Angeles Rams, where he finished his career. In his eight-year NFL career, Casey caught 359 passes for 5,444 yards and 40 touchdowns.

But Casey had other interests outside of football. He was the subject of a 1999 NFL Films profile, telling Steve Sabol he never loved football.

“You don’t have to love it, just be proficient at it,” Casey said. “People do things all the time that they don’t love, and they’re good at it. It’s a steppingstone to get from one place to another. It allows you to facility to pursue much bigger, more important visions.”

Casey left his career as an athlete – he also finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1960 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials – to establish careers in the arts.

He made his acting debut in 1969 in Guns of the Magnificent Seven. He returned to football but only for a role in the TV movie Brian’s Song. He has 78 acting roles to his credit, including Revenge of the Nerds, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the TV mini-series Roots: The Next Generation.

Casey spent more than 20 years as chair of the board of trustees at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design. Casey was also a prominent artist. During 2003 exhibit of Casey’s work at the Thelma Harris Art Gallery in Oakland, Dr. Maya Angelou described what she liked about Casey’s work.

“I cannot see what Bernie Casey sees,” Angelou said. “Casey has the heart and the art to put his insight on canvas, and I am heartened by his action. For then I can comprehend his vision and even some of my own. His art makes my road less rock and my path less crooked.”