49ers notes: Jacobs, James hobbled; Gore, Hunter look ready


49ers notes: Jacobs, James hobbled; Gore, Hunter look ready

HOUSTON -- The 49ers' newcomers in the backfield had rough nights.The incumbents, however, were just fine.Brandon Jacobs sustained a left knee injury at the end of his first and only snap of the night in the 49ers' 20-9 loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday night.He did not sustain any damage to his anterior cruciate ligament or patella, so that's good news, coach Jim Harbaugh said. It means Jacobs did not sustain a season-ending setback.Jacobs is scheduled for further evaluation Sunday, but the club is anticipating an early-season return for the short-yardage back.Running back LaMichael James, the 49ers' second-round draft pick, sustained a left ankle sprain late in the game. X-rays were negative, and James said he anticipates a speedy return to action. James tweaked the same ankle in the 49ers' exhibition opener and did not miss any practice time.James carried four times for 19 yards, and sustained his injury while blocking. He also averaged 25.7 yards on three kickoff returns and muffed one of his two punt returns.
Meanwhile, starter Frank Gore suited up after being rested as a precaution in the exhibition opener. Harbaugh declared Gore ready for the real games to begin."I think we're right on track with Frank," Harbaugh said.Gore played four snaps. On the second play from scrimmage, he gained 14 yards. On the next possession, he lost 2 yards to finish with 12 yards rushing on two attempts."They have a good defense," Gore said. "They have an active defense that can move real well. I was just happy to get out there and play with my guys and get into full contact."You could tell they (49ers offensive line) were doing a good job. From last year, they are feeding off of last year and they keep grinding. They're getting better. It's our second year in this offense and you can tell that we've grown."RECAP: 49ers' first-half report
Backup Kendall Hunter was on the field exclusively with the starting offensive line in the first half for each of his 17 snaps. He carried six times for 46 yards (7.7 average).
"It's just a compliment to the offensive line. Nothing would've been possible if the O-line wouldn't have got their blocks and opened the seams for me," Hunter said.Hunter also averaged 28.5 yards on two kick returns. The only blemish on Hunter's night was one breakdown in pass protection, to which Harbaugh alluded during his post-game comments.
In the two drives with Alex Smith at quarterback, the 49ers gained five first downs. Both drives stalled inside Houston territory. David Akers kicked a 50-yard field goal, and Anthony Dixon was stopped on a fourth-and-1 run attempt at the Texans' 20-yard line."Our drive stalled in the red zone. That's something we want to improve on going into next week," left tackle Joe Staley said. "I felt we were able to move the ball successfully. We had a lot of long drives. We just have to come away with touchdowns."We saw that last year. Too many field goals. It's a point of emphasis for us, so we'll watch the film and see what went right down there."RELATED: Smith blames self, not line, for punishment
Smith completed 5 of 9 passing attempts for 49 yards, including a 24-yarder to Ted Ginn on a third-and-5 on the opening drive. In three drives in the first two games, Smith has led the 49ers to 10 points and no punts."(We) got off to a good start last week and did some good things (Saturday)," Smith said. "It was kind of an up-and-down (night) for the starting unit. Put two long drives together, but didn't finish either of them. We'll learn from it, look at the film." Texans starting quarterback Matt Schaub played the entire first half. The 49ers' first-team defense was on the field for two series. The Texans drove 37 yards on seven plays to kick a field goal on the first drive of the game. The 49ers held Houston to a three-and-out on the second drive.On the first play against the 49ers' second team, Schaub hit All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson on a 43-yard pass against the coverage of safety Trenton Robinson and cornerback Tramaine Brock.The 49ers started Parys Haralson and Eric Bakhtiari at outside linebacker, as starters Aldon Smith (right hip) and Ahmad Brooks (left knee) remained in the Bay Area for rehab and treatment. Both Smith and Brooks are expected back at practice as early as this week.Bakhtiari played the entire game, and led the 49ers with seven tackles. He also had a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. The 49ers' only sacks came off second-half blitzes from linebacker Joe Holland and nickel back Michael Thomas. Rookie A.J. Jenkins' and third quarterback Josh Johnson hooked up for a beautiful 32-yard pass play on Johnson's second snap after entering late in the third quarter in place of Colin Kaepernick.Jenkins got separation against Houston cornerback Alan Ball, made an over-the-shoulder catch on a deep fade route and got both feet inboounds."It was a great ball by Josh," Jenkins said. "He threw it in the perfect spot. My job was easy. I just caught the ball."Jenkins had a prime opportunity for a touchdown on the next play, but Johnson overthrew him down the field.Jenkins had the one catch for 24 yards. Randy Moss had a team-leading three receptions for 24 yards.

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Kyle Shanahan is, self admittedly, not a patient person. As he watched quarterback C.J. Beathard run the scout team over the last couple of weeks -- how he visualized an unfamiliar play, went through his progressions and handled the defensive coverages -- the head coach saw rapid improvement every day. But he suppressed any urge to play the rookie before he was ready.

“I tried to wait for the right time for him and the right time for the team,” Shanahan explained.

Down 14-0 to Washington halfway through the second quarter with starter Brian Hoyer struggling, Shanahan knew Beathard’s time had come.

“I felt the team needed it right then,” Shanahan said. “It also made me more confident to do it because I thought he was ready for it, also.”

Moments after the game was over, Shanahan named Beathard the starter. Watching the game tape on the flight home only bolstered his decision.

“By no means was he perfect, missed a couple of things, but that always happens,” Shanahan said. “I thought he came in there, didn’t hesitate, competed. The moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm, made a few off schedule plays and was a big reason we got back in that game.”

Beathard led the 49ers on two scoring drives and finished 19-of-36 with 245 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, though it came on fourth-and-20 on his final pass attempt of the game. On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, Beathard extended the play when the fifth year receiver wasn’t where he expected him to be.

“He was supposed to go to the post for a certain coverage, and they had a busted coverage, so he just hung out there which is why C.J. didn’t see it right away,” Shanahan explained. “We had enough protection where he could take a couple more hitches. He drove the pocket and saw where Aldrick was, and he didn’t hesitate. Made that throw with that arm strength.”

Shanahan smirked at his not-so-subtle dig at those who questioned Beathard’s arm strength during the draft process. He sees a quarterback who can make all the throws, and make them from the pocket, and scramble when he needs to. All he needs now, Shanahan contends, is experience.

“It’s about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He’s going to see a lot of things he hasn’t seen before, and that will change each week. It will probably change each quarter.”

Helping Beathard continue to grow through those experiences will require patience, but in this situation, it’s the kind the head coach can handle.

“You’re never going to get a quick answer. You see over time, but he’s got the ability to do it. He’s got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”

Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely


Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead will be out indefinitely with a broken hand, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday.

“He’s going to need surgery, so it’s going to be some time,” Shanahan said of Armstead, the 49ers' first-round pick in the 2015 draft.

The 49ers will discuss placing Armstead of injured reserve, which would rule him out for at least eight weeks. The 49ers will also be without defensive end Aaron Lynch this week against the Dallas Cowboys. Lynch is week-to-week with a calf strain.

“The more guys you lose, the less you like that depth,” Shanahan said. “Losing Arik, which could be some time. We’ll have to discuss IR. We have to do that over the next couple of days. We know we’re going to have Lynch out, too, for at least a week or most likely more. That takes away two guys who were helping.”

The 49ers might make a roster move to add a defensive lineman to their 53-man roster. The 49ers also expect outside linebacker/defensive end Dekoda Watson to return to action this week after missing two weeks with a groin strain.