49ers key matchup No. 3: Sopoaga vs. Sullivan


49ers key matchup No. 3: Sopoaga vs. Sullivan

This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Vikings matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (FOX-TV), at Mall of American Field.49ers NT Isaac Sopoaga vs. Vikings C John SullivanTale of the tape
Sopoaga (90): 6-foot-2, 330 pounds, ninth season, Hawaii
Sullivan (65): 6-foot-4, 301 pounds, fifth season, Notre DameNose tackle Isaac Sopoaga has been the forgotten man on the 49ers' starting defense through the first two games.That's because Sopoaga played only 15 snaps from scrimmage combined in the 49ers' season-opening victories over the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.When the 49ers face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, that will change. Sopoaga will be asked to play a lot as a run-stuffer in the middle of the 49ers' line against a team that wants to run the football.MAIOCCO: 49ers defense faces first run challenge
"He'll definitely get more play than he's been getting based upon the way Minnesota plays," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.And how's that?"If you follow us, you know we're going to try to establish the run," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.Running back Adrian Peterson is rounding into top form after undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee in December. Peterson has rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 33 rushing attempts in the first two games. Frazier suggested Peterson's work load could increase.MAIOCCO: Peterson says Willis should've been No. 2 pick
The Vikings love to run the ball behind center John Sullivan, who last season signed a five-year, 25 million extension. No team in the NFL has run as many plays straight up the middle as Minnesota. On 28 runs over center, the Vikings have averaged 4.25 yards per attempt.Sullivan, who played every snap in the Vikings' Week 2 loss at Indianapolis, went through limited practice Wednesday and Thursday due to an ankle injury. He is expected to play Sunday, and he'll have his hands full against a fresh Sopoaga.Sopoaga plays nose tackle in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme. When the 49ers go with extra defensive backs in passing situations, Sopoaga is the first player to exit the field.Finally, he'll get a full day's work. His job will be to tie up Sullivan, and perhaps even a guard, to prevent the Vikings' offensive line from getting to the second level to block Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.If Willis and Bowman are able to make plays near the line of scrimmage in the run game, it means Sopoaga has done his job.

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017


What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Bay Area sports teams and your favorite players have plenty to be thankful for this year. 

Check out how the teams and players are celebrating Thanksgiving in 2017.

Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season


Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season

SANTA CLARA – The two quarterbacks who finish this season with the 49ers are probably going to be the same two quarterbacks the organization carry on their 2018 roster.

So every decision coach Kyle Shanahan makes with C.J. Beathard and Jimmy Garoppolo is being made to consider what is best for those two players.

Shanahan made the expected announcement this week that Beathard will make his fifth consecutive start on Sunday when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.

Beathard is coming off his best game as a pro. He was a major contributor to the 49ers’ first victory of the season, throwing for 288 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for a score in a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants. His performance seemingly did enough to earn him another start.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo pulled up to 49ers headquarters on Oct. 31 with no prior knowledge of Shanahan’s offensive system. Even as a rookie, Beathard has five more months of experience in the 49ers’ offense than Garoppolo, a four-year professional who made just two starts during his time with the New England Patriots.

“We’ve had C.J. in there for some time,” Shanahan said. “He’s getting more used to it, and I’m getting more used to him. The players are getting more used to him around him. It’s been nice to add a few things each week for him.”

General manager John Lynch reiterated this week he considers Garoppolo the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Garoppolo is not under contract for next season. If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year extension, the club would be expected to designate him as their franchise player to retain him for the 2018 season.

Garoppolo is likely to get some playing time in the final six games of the season, but the 49ers have every reason to take their time in order to give him the best chance at success. On the first three days of the bye week, Garoppolo had a chance to go back to the beginning and learn the basics of the scheme in meetings with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and Shanahan.

Shanahan’s scheme is complex with unique verbiage and an abundance of adjustments that are required on any given play. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan took a step backward in his first season in Shanahan's scheme. The next year, Ryan was a runaway MVP winner with a career-high 38 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.

It took Ryan a full season of experience with Shanahan to fully grasp his responsibilities, so it is unreasonable to believe Garoppolo would be able to do much more than just function if he gets onto the field for extended action.

“Jimmy gets more and more ready each week,” Shanahan said. “Is Jimmy going to be the best he can? To me, that’s impossible. He just hasn’t been here long enough, and I think he’ll get an opportunity to be better each week.

“I don’t think we’re going to see Jimmy’s best football, to be fair to him, until next year because that’s what guys need. But C.J. did play his best football last week, which definitely, to me, made the decision easier.”