49ers key matchup No. 3: Aldon Smith vs. Chris Hairston


49ers key matchup No. 3: Aldon Smith vs. Chris Hairston

This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Bills matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS-TV), at Candlestick Park.49ers OLB Aldon Smith vs. Bills LT Chris HairstonTale of the tape
Smith (99): 6-foot-4, 258 pounds, second season, Missouri
Hairston (75): 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, second season, ClemsonBuffalo Bills lineman Chris Hairston, who made seven starts last season at left tackle, began this season as a backup. With an ankle injury to rookie Cordy Glenn, Hairston is back as a starter.RELATED: Three out for Bills
And his first starting assignment of the season comes Sunday. His task is to take on 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who leads the 49ers with 4.5 sacks. Smith has recorded 18.5 sacks in his past 17 games.The Bills will start two backups on the offensive line after Glenn and right guard Kraig Urbik exited last week's loss to the New England Patriots with ankle injuries.The 49ers are coming off a 34-0 victory over the New York Jets, and their front seven figures to pose all kinds of problems for the Bills."(It's a) great defense," Hairston told BuffaloBills.com. "They've got great D-linemen, great linebackers and they've done a great job as a defense. It'll take a little film study and lot of work on the practice field to be ready for them."But the O-line takes pride in playing good teams and doing what we can to assert our dominance. I'm sure this week is going to be a tough task with the guys we've got to go up against."The Bills' offense features a spread attack with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick getting rid of the ball quickly. Fitzpatrick has been sacked only four times in four games.In this battle of second-year players, Smith has a chance to exploit Hairston. Smith can make it difficult for Fitzpatrick to get the ball into the hands of his explosive threats in the passing game, such as receivers Stevie Johnson and Donald Jones, tight end Scott Chandler and running back C.J. Spiller.As an every-down player, Smith has done a good job of continuing to pressure the quarterback while also setting the edge in run defense. The Bills will run the ball more than most teams that feature three-wideout formations.
"That's the hardest thing for a guy that's transitioning from a defensive lineman to a linebacker position, outside backer in this case, is figuring out if it's a run or pass No. 1," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Smith.
"And No. 2, they're not always coming forward. If it's a pass they've got to go backwards. So that's always new and uncomfortable for those guys. And that's really the biggest sticking point for those guys is figuring out if it's a run or pass and going backwards when they have pass responsibility."Smith has made a smooth transition this season from being a pass-rush specialist as a rookie."He's athletic enough and he's smart enough to learn the position and understand the position," Fangio said. "That's a good starting point."

Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions


Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions

SANTA CLARA – While rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard is taking a micro view of his promotion, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is not shy about admitting he is looking at the big picture.

Shanahan said how Beathard performs after replacing Brian Hoyer as starting quarterback will have “a ton” of influence on how the 49ers proceed during the offseason.

After all, the 49ers know every position will come under tremendous scrutiny as the organization looks to add the pieces that will make the club competitive.

“That’s for every position. That’s for every player on our team. That’s for every coach on our team,” Shanahan said. “We’re 0-6, and that’s extremely tough. But I’m extremely excited about this place and excited about where we’re at and where we’re going. There’s not a moment that I don’t waste thinking about that stuff.”

Beathard will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.

Hoyer failed in his bid to earn consideration as the 49ers’ quarterback for the remainder of this season and beyond during his six starts. Hoyer completed just 58 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 74.1.

Now, Beathard gets his chance. But he said he is not thinking about the big picture and what it might mean for the future.

“I’m really just trying to take it one day, one week at a time,” Beathard said. “I’m not looking that far ahead. Right now, my focus is on today’s practice and geared towards beating the Cowboys and doing the best we can to get better and improve.”

Beathard was pressed into action last week when Hoyer’s struggles continued at Washngton. Beathard stepped in and completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For the first time, Beathard is getting the first-team practice snaps with a game plan that is designed specifically for him.

Said Beathard, “Getting those extra reps, reps with guys that you don’t usually throw to, in the huddle with the guys that are out there, I think it’ll help a lot.”

Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates


Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates

More than 35 players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl champion will be in attendance on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium to show support for Dwight Clark, who revealed in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Clark, 60, will have ample opportunity to reconnect with some of his old friends on Saturday evening and again on Sunday. At halftime, Joe Montana, surrounded by most of the 49ers' 1981 team, will introduce Clark before a video tribute.

Clark is also expected to make some remarks while situated in a suite for the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Montana and his wife, Jennifer, have remained in close contact with Clark and his wife, Kelly. The Clarks recently watched the Blue Angels in San Francisco with the Montanas during Fleet Week.

“He’s getting pretty inundated with everyone staying in touch with him at this point,” Montana said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“It’s fun for him. At one point, he was telling his wife, Kelly, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is what I want and what I miss, seeing the guys.’ So any of the guys reaching out to him, he surely appreciates it.”

Montana said Clark has not lost his positive outlook or his sense of humor, as evidenced by some not-fit-for-print words he recently had about his wheelchair. Montana said there are always some good laughs and stories any time Clark gets together with his friends.

“That’s the fun part," Montana said. “You just try to get him to forget what’s there, and that you’re there for him whenever. I think the support is the biggest thing right now. In that stage of ALS, it's got to be getting tough, where all of a sudden, things are becoming more and more difficult.”