49ers notes: Gore focuses on job, not contract


49ers notes: Gore focuses on job, not contract

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
SANTA CLARA -- If 49ers running back Frank Gore had his druthers, he would've chosen to sit out the team's exhibition opener against the New Orleans Saints.But he said he benefited from taking live hits for the first time since sustaining a hairline fracture of his right hip Nov. 29 against the Arizona Cardinals. He has completely recovered from the injury and said he feels as if he's 22 years old again.
"I was hoping not to play because I feel like I like to work hard in practice," Gore said Tuesday. "But I was happy that Coach had me out there for a couple plays, just to get some hits in and get up to speed in a game again. I didn't want to come out, really."Gore was on the field for the 49ers' first seven plays Friday night. He carried four times for 20 yards before retiring to the sideline.
Gore has taken part in every practice since reporting to the team three days late after a brief contract holdout. The 49ers promised to hold good-faith negotiations with Gore's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to work on a contract extension.Gore is still waiting for a new deal to add years onto his deal, which is set to expire after the upcoming season."Right now, I'm out here learning and getting better," Gore said. "(I'm) just going to let my agent handle that. Hopefully, we'll get something done soon. Hopefully, it gets done before the season. And If have to be a free agent, I'll be a free agent." Gore has never seen a great deal of action in the exhibition season. He sat out the 2007 exhibition season with a broken hand.Gore's exhibition stats
2011: 4 carries, 20 yards
2010: 2 carries, 58 yards
2009: 7 carries, 26 yards
2008: 16 carries, 86 yards
2007: 0 carries
2006: 26 carries, 140 yards
2005: 16 carries, 47 yards
BEST FIVE IN LINE TO START: Alex Boone has seemingly solidified his spot as the 49ers' backup tackle, taking the spot veteran Barry Sims previously held. Now, Boone has his sights set on something grander.Coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have stated that the 49ers' five best offensive linemen will be the starters when the season opens. Boone said his goal is to work his way into that equation."I'd like to," he said. "I feel like I'm making great strides to get there. The three-hour practices are long, and at the end of camp I hope to be one of the five."Currently, Adam Snyder is competing with veteran addition Jonathan Goodwin at center. With Goodwin receiving 4 million guaranteed as a free agent, it's only a matter of time before he becomes the starter.Snyder on Monday saw action for the first time this camp at right guard, where
Chilo Racha started 15 games last season. Meanwhile, Boone, who has been working as the backup at left tackle, saw snaps with the second-team offense Monday and Tuesday at right tackle. Anthony Davis started every game at right tackle last season."I'll tell you what, the best five will play," Roman said. "That's all I can say and in order to establish who the best five are, you need to give guys reps at different positions if you're truly going to let that unfold."That's what we're doing really. Also, if guys were to get injured, you can't throw a guy in a position he hasn't practiced at it before. So, I think that's just contingency planning really, and a natural residue of competition."

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense


What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine


49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.