49ers

49ers snap count: Foster starts and finishes

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USATSI

49ers snap count: Foster starts and finishes

The return of rookie Reuben Foster signaled the end of Ray-Ray Armstrong’s involvement in the 49ers’ defense.

Foster started on Sunday in the 49ers’ 20-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals and played 75 of the team’s 77 snaps. He exited briefly in the second half with a right ankle injury.

“It scared me for a minute,” Foster said. “But it is like a shoulder. It feels like it is gone, but you still have a little nick. All it can do is just get better if you just rehab and listen to the doctors.”

Foster played the weakside linebacker position and led the 49ers with 14 tackles, including one stop for a loss, as he played his most snaps of any game this season. It was only the third game in which Foster has appeared this season. He missed five games with a high right ankle sprain. When he returned to action Oct. 22 against Dallas, he sustained a ribs injury that forced him to miss last week’s game against Philadelphia.

“I feel great. I feel blessed,” Foster said. “I am not injured or hurting. I feel good. I just want to go out there and do it for the fellas.

“It was very important (to finish the game) from a mind standpoint. I have been hurt for the two games that I started. It is bad luck. You just can’t ask God for no injuries or to not get hurt, but if it happens, it happens. I am happy that I finished the game all four quarters.”

Middle linebacker Brock Coyle started at the other inside linebacker position, while Armstrong, who has played a significant role on defense with five starts, was on the field for only one defensive snap.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

OFFENSE
(74 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 74
Running back – Carlos Hyde 56, Matt Breida 17, Kyle Juszczyk 17, Raheem Mostert 1
Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 67, Aldrick Robinson 62, Kendrick Bourne 40, Trent Taylor 15, Victor Bolden 6
Tight end – Garrett Celek 55, George Kittle 33
Offensive line – Brandon Fusco 74, Laken Tomlinson 74, Trent Brown 74, Erik Magnuson 74, Daniel Kilgore 73, Zane Beadles 2

DEFENSE
(77 plays)
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 64, Leger Douzable 56, Earl Mitchell 48, Datone Jones 41, Ronald Blair 39, Tony McDaniel 17, Elvis Dumervil 15
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 75, Brock Coyle 64, Eli Harold 52, Dekoda Watson 15, Mark Nzeocha 2, Ray-Ray Armstrong 1
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 77, Ahkello Witherspoon 77, Leon Hall 36, Greg Mabin 1
Safety – Eric Reid 77, Adrian Colbert 62, Jaquiski Tartt 19, Dexter McCoil 8

SPECIAL TEAMS
(33 plays)
Watson 27, Armstrong 22, Mostert 22, Nzeocha 22, Harold 21, Bolden 18, Coyle 17, McCoil 17, Bradley Pinion 13, Johnson 11, Kyle Nelson 10, Andy Lee 9, Blair 9, Breida 9, Mabin 9, Bourne 7, Reid 7, Buckner 7, Jones 7, Juszczyk 6, Witherspoon 5, Coyle 5, Douzable 5, Mitchell 5, Taylor 4, Celek 4, Tartt 4, Robbie Gould 2, Cole Hikutini 2, Darrell Williams 2, Fusco 2, Tomlinson 2, Brown 2, Kilgore 2, Beadles 2, Hall 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB Jimmy Garoppolo

INACTIVE
DB K’Waun Williams (quadriceps)
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OT Joe Staley (eye)
OT Garry Gilliam (knee)
DT D.J. Jones (knee)
DT Solomon Thomas (knee)

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

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AP

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

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USATSI

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.