49ers review vs. Bills: Defensive line, linebackers


49ers review vs. Bills: Defensive line, linebackers

The player-by-player review of every position group from the 49ers' 45-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills continues . . .Defensive line
83-Demarcus Dobbs: He played five snaps and recorded an assisted tackle. He also played a team-high 25 plays on special teams.
90-Isaac Sopoaga: With the 49ers going with their nickel defense for most of the game because of the Bills' spread offense, Sopoaga played only four snaps of defense.
91-Ray McDonald: He played 41 snaps at left defensive tackle. He was kept off the statistic sheet, which is a bit misleading. He did not get moved off the ball, which allowed others to make tackles in the run game.
92-Will Tukuafu: He played five snaps on defense and was not credited with any tackles.
93-Ian Williams: Was not active (coaches' decision).
94-Justin Smith: He played 41 snaps on defense at right defensive tackle. As part of a defense that allowed 89 yards rushing, he was credited with four solo tackles.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: He played five defensive snaps and was credited with one tackle.REWIND: 49ers defense clamps down on Bills
51-Clark Haggans: Served the third and final game of an NFL suspension for violating the NFL's policy on substances of abuse. He was reinstated to the 49ers' 53-man roster on Tuesday.
52-Patrick Willis: He played 41 snaps on defense and led the 49ers with seven solo tackles and one forced fumble. . . Stopped Brad Smith for 1-yard gain on a third-and-15 play from SF 38 to force a Bills first-quarter punt. . . In coverage against TE Scott Chandler on a shallow crossing route, Willis stripped Chandler of the ball to force a huge turnover late in the first half. The 49ers immediately cashed it in for a touchdown.
53-NaVorro Bowman: He played 51 snaps on defense and recorded four tackles and broke up one pass. . . He dropped C.J. Spiller for 5-yard loss in the first quarter. Had good one-on-one coverage on deep route down the left sideline against Spiller on an incomplete pass.
54-Larry Grant: He played five snaps on defense on the final series and recorded one tackle. . . He also was on the field for 18 plays of special teams. Did not secure tackle on kickoff return against Leodis McKelvin, who bounced outside and returned it 59 yards in first quarter.
55-Ahmad Brooks: Played 40 snaps at outside linebacker and had a strong game with a sack and two tackles for loss. . Shed the block attempt of LG Andy Levitre to drop Fred Jackson for 1-yard loss in the first quarter. Was not at all fooled by play-fake in third quarter, as he dropped QB Ryan Fitzpatrick for 11-yard sack.
56-Tavares Gooden: He played five snaps on defense and 18 plays on special teams. He was not credited with any tackles.
96-Eric Bakhtiari: He played five snaps on defense and 14 plays on special teams. The 49ers waived Bakhtiari, a move they announced on Tuesday, to make room on the roster for Haggans.
99-Aldon Smith: He played 41 snaps at right outside linebacker. He recorded one tackle and had two hits on the quarterback. . . Got hit on Fitzpatrick to force an underthrow and incompletion on deep attempt to T.J. Graham late in first half. No sacks, but he got pressure on Fitzpatrick to force third-down incompletion. . . He found himself in coverage twice against Bills WR Stevie Johnson on underneath routes, and Smith made quick stops both times, holding Johnson for gains of 7 and 2 yards, respectively, with a total of 0 yards after the catch. . . . Got stuck inside, as Brad Smith ran around his side for a 35-yard gain in third quarter on a "wildcat" play. That was the Bills' biggest gain of the game.

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.