49ers

49ers notes: Secondary depth on display, etc.

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49ers notes: Secondary depth on display, etc.

SANTA CLARA -- Aaron Rodgers threw for 312 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions when he and the Packers opened the 2011 season against the New Orleans Saints. It began a record-setting season in which he threw for 45 touchdowns, six interceptions and posted the highest-ever QB rating in a single season -- 122.5.

On Sunday, the 49ers ensured he would have a difficult time matching those stats, and their third and fourth cornerbacks were a big reason. Chris Culliver was on the field for 65 of 72 defensive snaps (90), and Perrish Cox played 55 snaps (76).

Culliver and Cox can expect to see plenty more action with the 49ers' schedule featuring matchups with the pass-heavy offenses of the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.

"Especially with the schedule we got this year," veteran cornerback Carlos Rogers said, "These powerful quarterbacks, they've got a lot of weapons and it's going to take all of us on the field at one time like this past game."

Cox and Culliver are featured in almost all of the 49ers' pass-heavy schemes. SportsNet Central's 49ers reporter Mindi Bach will have detailed analysis of the team's nickel, dime and dollar defensive packages on CSNBayArea.com Wednesday.

"The main goal is taking away big plays from any offense," Cox said. "We knew Aaron was one of those guys."

The main goal was achieved. The Packers, who were third in the NFL last season averaging 307.8 passing yards per game, managed just three plays that gained more than 20 yards. Rodgers made a pair of 28-yard completions in the second quarter and completed a no huddle 49-yard pass out of the shotgun formation in the fourth quarter.

"Them little couple yards that he get -- five, six, seven here or there -- that's not gonna kill us," Culliver said. "But if we keep 'em in front of us and don't allow them to get in the end zone, that's our MO. That's what we strive for."

The collective effort from the 49ers' secondary was no better illustrated than by the game's final play, when Rodgers' attempt to Jordy Nelson was batted down by Culliver.

"That was a fun play," the second-year cornerback said. "Coach called a good defense, and I just played it like a play in practice."

Culliver finished the game tied for third on the team with four tackles and contributed the one key pass defended. Cox had two tackles.

Cox, who bumped his personal grade from "okay" to "more than good" because of the team victory, had one final -- and scary -- observation.

"It could be better."

Alex Boone made the first start of his life -- at any level of football -- at right guard Sunday, and he played well enough to ease the pain of the offseason loss of Adam Snyder.

"It felt great," Boone said. "Proud of the offensive line. Thought we ran the ball well. Thought pass protection was great. Still a few things we need to iron out, but other than that, great day."

Clear communication in a loud and hostile environment and keeping his pad level low as a 6-foot-8 guard are two of Boone's biggest challenges, but he was encouraged by the Week 1 win.

Boone is sandwiched by center Jonathan Goodwin and right tackle Anthony Davis, and he feels the continuity on the line gets better every day.

"A.D. and I are like brothers," Boone said. "Thick as thieves. I think we blend well together."

The Packers did sack Alex Smith four times, thanks to two and one-half sacks from All Pro linebacker Clay Matthews.

The offensive line will look to improve in Week 2, but it won't be easy. They face one of the league's toughest front four in the Detroit Lions' Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Vernon Davis was the subject of some heavy ribbing from teammates after he followed his touchdown catch Sunday with an attempted dunk over the goal post that didn't quite make it.

Apparently, the team had a pretty strong reaction when the highlight was replayed on the charter flight home, and it was fellow pass catchers Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree sourcing most of the grief.

Davis claimed it was returning pain from a tweaked foot in training camp that he felt just before he attempted the dunk that distracted him, but even he smiled as he provided the backstory.

After acknowledging that Moss and Crabtree are probably the two best basketball players on the team, Davis told his story of going to high school to play basketball and converting to football.

He was asked if he can still dunk the round ball. "Oh yeah," Davis said. "Windmills, whatever."

Davis finished the game with three catches for 43 yards and the touchdown, good for the team's third-most receiving yards -- behind only Crabtree and Moss.

More from the "teammate clowning" department, Carlos Rogers is tied with Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks for the team lead in sacks after Week 1, and he said he's making sure Smith, in particular, knows it.

Smith set the 49ers rookie sack record with 14 last year, a half-sack away from Jevon Kearse's NFL record for rookies. Smith didn't put a number on it, but he said he's looking to statistically improve upon his freshman campaign. He's on pace to do so, with one sack after one game played.

REWIND: Smith sets sack goal

For reference, Fred Dean set the single-season franchise mark with 17.5 sacks in 1983.

After six-plus years in the league, the sack was the first of Rogers' career.

"I just don't blitz," he said.

Not according to 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

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Twitter/@49ers

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

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USATSI

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.”