49ers key matchup No. 1: Gore vs. Laurinaitis


49ers key matchup No. 1: Gore vs. Laurinaitis

This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Rams matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX), at Candlestick Park.49ers RB Frank Gore vs. Rams MLB James LaurinaitisTale of the tape
Gore (21): 5-foot-9, 217 pounds, eighth season, Miami
Laurinaitis (55): 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, fourth season, Ohio StateIf he didn't play in the same division as another pair of All-Pro inside linebackers, perhaps St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis would garner a little more attention.But Laurinaitis will be flying under nobody's radar on Sunday, as the 49ers get set to face the Rams in an NFC West matchup at Candlestick Park.Coach Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers was asked whether Laurinaitis jumps out at him when he watches the Rams defense on film."He sure does," Harbaugh answered. "James Laurinaitis? Absolutely. . . Mobile, rangy, tough, real savvy understanding of the game. And they use him in a lot of different ways."Laurinaitis, the Rams' leading tackler, will have a big chore on Sunday to keep 49ers running back Frank Gore in check.RELATED: Roman's run game recalls Seifert days, etc.
But even before Laurinaitis can get to Gore, he must contend with the 49ers' offensive line."They have a lot invested in the O-line, and they do a very good job," Laurinaitis said last week in a conference call with reporters who cover the 49ers."They have the guys to do what they want to do. Their blue print is to run the football, get some explosive runs, and when you have tight ends like they have and now receivers, and that makes the play-action more of a nightmare."It all starts with the O-line and a terrific running back who I have a lot of respect for in Frank Gore."Laurinaitis hopes to avoid 49ers left guard Mike Iupati, who out-weighs him by 80 pounds. One of the staples of the 49ers' run game is "Power," in which Iupati pulls and tries to blast a linebacker off the right side."You hope throughout a game, you don't get too many helmet-to-helmets with that big guy," Laurinaitis said.Only then, can Laurinaitis concentrate on Gore.Gore rushed for 656 yards and four touchdowns in the first eight games with an impressive 5.5-yard average per rush attempt. He is also adept at pass protection and caught 16 passes in the first half of the season.Harbaugh said the Rams like to use Laurinaitis in "rush-to-cover" packages. On those such plays, Laurinaitis will come on a blitz. But if Gore leaves the backfield in a pass route, it is Laurinaitis' responsibility to reverse direction and cover Gore.This game will feature three of the top inside linebackers in the league. Laurinaitis often gets left out of the discussion because he plays on a losing team and he is overshadowed by 49ers All-Pros Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.Laurinaitis is very familiar with both Willis and Bowman, and he considers himself a fan of their work."They both make big-time plays," Laurinaitis said. "You play a lot of 3-4 teams and usually you say, 'OK, this guy is their bell cow in the middle.' But they really have two guys that you have to be very worried about. I have a lot of respect for those two guys."

49ers claim outside linebacker off waivers from Patriots


49ers claim outside linebacker off waivers from Patriots

The 49ers on Wednesday were assigned outside linebacker Cassius Marsh off waivers from the New England Patriots.

The Patriots waived Marsh on Tuesday after acquiring him in September from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for fifth- and seventh-round draft picks.

Marsh (6 foot 4, 245 pounds) appeared in 46 games in his four NFL seasons. Three of his four career sacks came in 2016 while with the Seahawks. He was Seattle's fourth-round pick in 2014.

Marsh is the second defensive player the 49ers have claimed off waivers this week. The club acquired former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Sheldon Day on Monday. The 49ers released defensive linemen Tony McDaniel and Datone Jones within the past week.

The 49ers are at their roster maximum of 53 players. The club will have to clear a roster spot if Tank Carradine, as expected, is activated off injured reserve in order to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.

Who 49ers start at quarterback is the last thing on Pete Carroll's mind


Who 49ers start at quarterback is the last thing on Pete Carroll's mind

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback C.J. Beathard is expected to make his fifth consecutive start for the 49ers on Sunday, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll said his team will be prepared to face Jimmy Garoppolo, too.

“It really isn’t a factor,” Carroll said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters on Wednesday. “We’re just preparing for the 49ers. They got a style of offense. They got really good players who do what they do. And whoever’s triggering it from the quarterback spot, we’re going to go play football.

“We’ve seen Jimmy play. We’ve seen how he’s mobile and the kind of athlete and competitor he is. But other than that, we just go play football. We can’t do anything about that.”

Beathard remained on the sideline when the clubs met Sept. 17 in Seattle. The Seahawks have defeated the 49ers seven consecutive times, including a 12-9 victory in Week 2 this season. Quarterback Brian Hoyer started the 49ers’ first six games of the season and rushed for just 7 yards during that time. Beathard has 115 yards rushing on 20 attempts in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

“He’s been mobile. He’s got a rushing average, you know,” Carroll said of Beathard. “He’s averaging 5-yards a carry and stuff. They’re incorporating him in the run game some that we have to be concerned about. That’s different than other quarterbacks at times. I’d think Jimmy can do the same stuff.

“He (Beathard) is getting more settled. You can see the offense growing. You can see Kyle able to expand and do more stuff. He’s an incredible offensive coordinator and play-caller that we’ve respected for a long time. I think they’re just grown and they’re getting more proficient at what they’re doing."