49ers notes -- Smith, Hunter deliver


49ers notes -- Smith, Hunter deliver

With Alex Smith under pressure, Kendall Hunter improvised and found a soft spot in the Eagles' defense. The resulting catch-and-run gained 44 yards and the coaches attention.

We made a big deal of that in the meeting when the unit was watching the film, head coach Jim Harbaugh said. That was them. Id love to stand up here and say that was something we coached, but that was those two guys being football players making a play.

The rookie has had nine carries and two receptions in each of the last two games, including the 49ers only touchdown in the win over the Bengals, and is likely to see more playing time regardless of Frank Gore's injury status.

Thats very possible, Harbaugh said. Its all part of the game plan week to week. But as far as Kendall, he has done very well. Hes graded out very well in his position. Last week worked with Alex on the scramble play to make a big play in the ballgame. So hes making the most of his opportunities.

O-LINE ACCOLATES: Harbaugh commended the 49ers' blocking in the final two drives in the win over the Eagles.

The timing was there, the angles were there, the pad level was right, Harbaugh said. And also Frank had taken the mental reps during practice and fit right into the scheme without taking a rep. Pretty impressive.

Harbaugh started Adam Snyder at right guard over Chilo Rachal, but Rachal was in at right guard and Snyder as a tight end on Gore's 12-yard go ahead touchdown run. On the next possession when Gore carried five times to pick up two first downs and run out the clock, Rachal and Snyder were both on the field for four of those plays.

Not wanting to start a right guard controversy Harbaugh is reluctant to say who will start at right guard this week against the Bucs.

In some form or fashion, thats all part of the game plan and how you implement the guys there, Harbaugh said. But definitely in a similar form or fashion going forward there.

WITHOUT TUAKUAFU: With defensive tackle Will Tuakuafu on the injured reserve, Harbaugh says either Demarcus Dobbs or Ian Williams will be active this Sunday against Tampa Bay. Both were signed as undrafted free agent rookies and have not been active for any of the 4 games this season.

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care


Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

SANTA CLARA – In less than a year since a group of former 49ers players came together to form the Golden Heart Fund, the non-profit organization has provided valuable assistance.

“We’ve made some progress with the idea of knowing there are some people in need, so we’ve been able to make some grants to some of the ex-Niners,” Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We’ve been able to respond. This is more about us being able to give guys the ability to know they can have, as (former 49ers linebacker and Golden Heart Fund board member) Ron Ferrari says, a hand up not a hand out.”

The organization is in the midst of a fund-raising drive this week in conjunction with "Dwight Clark Day" on Sunday. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and Clark will be the guest of honor. More than 35 players from the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team are expected to be in attendance.

Clark played nine seasons for the 49ers and provided the most memorable play in franchise history with “The Catch” against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, which propelled the organization to its first Super Bowl. Clark served as a front-office executive for a decade after his playing days.

In March, Clark announced he was diagnosed with ALS. He is scheduled to attend Sunday’s game and make some remarks at halftime from a suite.

“It’s unbelievable we are having an opportunity to celebrate an incredible day for this gentleman,” Lott said. “We can all say there was a moment in time in which we stood on his shoulders after making that catch. Now, we get a chance to lift him up a little bit and let him know how much we all care.”

Lott said Clark has been a champion of the Golden Heart Fund from its inception. Past and current 49ers ownership has supported the organization, which provides financial support for former 49ers players in times of physical, emotional and financial need.

“It’s the spirit of Dwight,” Lott said. “It’s more about the funds going in through his efforts. He’s paying it forward.”

--The public can made a direct contribution to the fund at GoldenHeartFund.org.

--Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at Sunday’s game will benefit the Golden Heart Fund.

--Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sales of Dwight Clark apparel purchased on game day will go to the fund.

--Half of all proceeds from admission to the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium throughout the year will go to the charity.

-- On Sunday, Nov. 19, Levi’s Stadium and race grand marshal Roger Craig will host the first Golden Heart 4.9K Run with all proceeds from the event going to the Golden Heart Fund. Runners can register GoldenHeartRun.com.

Reuben Foster ready for leadership role with 49ers


Reuben Foster ready for leadership role with 49ers

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ pass coverage from their linebackers has been a disaster this season.

But help is on the way, as rookie Reuben Foster is expected to return to action Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys after sustaining a high right ankle sprain just 11 plays into the season opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 10.

“He’s been battling to get back,” 49ers Kyle Shanahan said on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.

“He’s been hitting the rehab hard. We’ve had him out here for two weeks of practice, and I think he had his best week of practice. This week was much better than last week. I’m excited to get him out there.”

Last week, the 49ers cut veteran NaVorro Bowman, leaving Ray-Ray Armstrong and Brock Coyle as the starting inside linebackers. They were overmatched in the 49ers' 26-24 loss at Washington.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins looked no further than his running backs in the passing game, as Chris Thompson caught four passes for 105 yards and Samaje Perine had three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers expect Foster to provide an immediate upgrade with no expectations of perfection.

“It’s going to be his first time playing in a while,” Shanahan said. “I know there are going to be some bumps in the road. But I think he’ll have a big impact on our defense and our team overall.”

Foster will take over at Bowman’s middle linebacker position and be responsible for communicating the play calls and adjustments to the rest of the defense. Shanahan said Foster is ready to handle the important role.

“That’s the one thing that’s been the most impressive about him,” Shanahan said. “Everyone can see stuff on tape that’s impressive. But we didn’t know how much command he’d have until he got here. And from the first day of OTAs through training camp -- even walk-throughs when he was hurt -- when he gets in there, he speaks that language. He takes control and people listen to him.”