49ers inactives: McDonald, Dorsey out vs Cardinals

49ers inactives: McDonald, Dorsey out vs Cardinals

SANTA CLARA – Inside linebacker Nick Bellore will get the first start of his six-year NFL career, the 49ers announced before Thursday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Bellore will start in place of NaVorro Bowman, who was placed on injured reserve earlier in the day due to a season-ending left Achilles injury. Through most of his NFL career, Bellore has be used as primary a special-teams player.

"I’ve never viewed Nick as just a special teams guy," 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said. "I think that Nick is a really good linebacker. I think he can play in this league. He played a lot for us when I was in New York at inside linebacker when we had injuries and he’s done a great job preparing himself. He knows the position. He knows how to play the game.”

Gerald Hodges will return to the starting lineup, replacing Michael Wilhoite, the team announced. However, based on the team's warmups, it appeared Wilhoite would remain as the starter. Bellore and Wilhoite lined up together with the 49ers' first-team defense. Hodges started the first three games of the season before getting benched last week in favor of Wilhoite.

The 49ers will also be short-handed on the defensive line. Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, who the 49ers were looking to move into a more prominent role, was ruled out with a knee injury. Dorsey played the past three games after missing the season opener. He is returning from a torn ACL he sustained in November.

Also, rookie defensive lineman DeForest Buckner is out of action with a foot injury he sustained in the 49ers’ 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

With Dorsey and Buckner unavailable, defensive lineman Taylor Hart is in uniform for the first time with the 49ers. Tony Jerod-Eddie, who was inactive the past three games, will also be available as part of the 49ers’ rotation.

Tight end Vance McDonald will miss his second game in a row after sustaining a hip injury on Sept. 25 against Seattle. Garrett Celek will start. He caught five passes for 79 yards as the 49ers’ primary tight end against Dallas.

Rashard Robinson earned his second start in a row in place of Jimmie Ward at right cornerback.

49ers inactives
QB Christian Ponder
CB Jimmie Ward
WR Deshawn Martin
OT John Theus
TE Vance McDonald
DL Glenn Dorsey
DL DeForest Buckner

Cardinals inactives
QB Carson Palmer
TE Darren Fells
DT Robert Nkemdiche
DT Ed Stinson
DT Josh Mauro
DT Olsen Pierre
G Cole Toner

Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season


Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season

Frank Gore is returning home to, in all likelihood, finish his professional football career.

Gore, 34, signed a one-year contract to enter his 14th NFL season with his hometown Miami Dolphins, the team announced Friday.

Gore grew up in Coconut Grove, Florida, and attended Coral Gables High School before playing collegiately at the University of Miami.

He played the first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. Gore ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,026 rushing yards – just 75 yards behind No. 4 Curtis Martin.

After rushing for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns with the 49ers, the club declined to offer him a multi-year contract following the 2014 season. Gore played the past three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Gore remains one of the most popular players in 49ers history. When asked recently if he would be willing to “retire” as a member of the 49ers after his final game, Gore reacted enthusiastically about the possibility.

1, Emmitt Smith 18,355
2, Walter Payton 16,726
3, Barry Sanders 15,269
4, Curtis Martin 14,101
5, Frank Gore 14,026

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”