49ers DL Dial points finger at himself for Ingram's 75-yard TD

49ers DL Dial points finger at himself for Ingram's 75-yard TD

SANTA CLARA – Defensive lineman Quinton Dial spoke softly at his locker about the 49ers’ struggles defending the run.

“It’s just consistency is the thing,” Dial said. “We just got to stay consistent. We just got to play consistent ball on defense. That’s what I’m saying. Assignment, alignment and tackling, that’s how we can do that.”

Dial pointed the finger at himself for being responsible for the big play the 49ers allowed on Sunday in a 41-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints. On the first play from scrimmage after the 49ers cut the deficit to 21-10 in the second quarter, Saints running back Mark Ingram tore off a 75-yard touchdown run.

Coach Chip Kelly said the 49ers had a blitz coming from the right side and the defense called for the four down linemen to slant to the left.

“We had a guy go in the wrong direction up front, so we had an open gap that we shouldn’t have had an open gap in,” Kelly said.

The player who went the wrong way was Dial, a fourth-year player who is the only 49ers’ defensive lineman to start every game this season. In the offseason, the 49ers signed Dial to a three-year contract extension.

“I (messed) up,” said Dial, who used a more descriptive term. “That’s what it comes down to, I just (messed) up.”

Dial went the wrong way. Instead of filling the gap through which Ingram ran, Dial went into DeForest Buckner’s territory. That allowed Saints right tackle Zach Strief, who would have had to account for Dial, to get untouched to the second level to block linebacker Gerald Hodges. Ingram then ran past safety Antoine Bethea untouched into the end zone for the longest run of his six-year NFL career.

The 49ers rank last in the NFL, allowing 193.0 rush yards per game. The 49ers’ run defense is nearly 50 yards per game worse than the winless Cleveland Browns, who rank 31st in the league.

There are way too many mistakes, way too many big plays allowed. In their seven-game losing streak, the 49ers’ have given up 12 run plays of more than 20 yards, including touchdowns of 41, 44, 44 and 75 yards.

But Dial said he believes the 49ers are getting closer to tightening things up on defense.

“To be honest with you, I can see it when I watch film,” he said. “It’s just a guy here or a guy there. If he’d been just a little quicker here or he’d been a step faster here or if he’d shade his alignment a little bit more here. I feel like we’re close. We just have to be consistent across the board – defensive line, linebackers and secondary. I feel like if we can do that, we can win ballgames.”

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'


Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'

STANFORD – Free-agent safety Eric Reid chatted with 49ers general manager John Lynch on the sideline, then moved into position onto the field for an up-close view of his brother’s pro day workout Thursday at Stanford University.

Younger brother, Justin, is aiming to be a first-round draft pick like Eric, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Both football futures of the Reid brothers remain uncertain. Justin's fate will be determined on draft day. Eric Reid remains in limbo as an NFL free agent. He has not gotten any action in the first week of free agency, and the 49ers have not made him a contract offer, he said.

But Lynch said the 49ers are closely monitoring Reid’s situation. However, the organization already has three safeties they like: Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert.

“Eric played and played well for us last year,” Lynch said. “I think he’s stuck in a safety market that’s been quiet. And I would anticipate things starting to shake for him and we’ll see.

“I’d never say never. I really do think opportunities will start to come his way. We’ve been monitoring it closely and we’ll see how that shakes out.”

Reid, 26, a six-year NFL veteran, said his agent has spoken recently to “a couple of teams,” but no contracts or visits have been proposed.

Reid’s market might be impacted by his up-front role in the protests of racial inequality of the past two seasons. Reid and Colin Kaepernick were the first players to take a knee during the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Reid said he would probably not take part in any future protests during the national anthem.

“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.

“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”

Reid said he has no regrets. He said he is willing to deal with the consequences of how NFL teams viewed his role in the protests.

“I stand by what I’ve done,” Reid said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident I did what I was called to do. I’m just gong to stay positive and keep trying to stay in shape and wait and see what happens.

“I said at the end of last season I’m OK no matter what happens.”