49ers snap count: Foster starts and finishes


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:

(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

(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

(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

QB Jimmy Garoppolo

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)

49ers set aside cap space with an eye to the future


49ers set aside cap space with an eye to the future

The first wave of free agency is over, and the 49ers struck quickly.

The club identified two players coach Kyle Shanahan tabbed as fits for his offense and they paid the money it took to get them.

General manager John Lynch said there were five teams seriously interested in free-agent running back Jerick McKinnon. Even more teams were going after center Weston Richburg, he said.

That drove up the prices on McKinnon and Richburg to the point that they rank behind only quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ($37 million) as taking up the most cap space among the 72 players currently under contract to the 49ers.

McKinnon and Richburg account for $10.5 million and $9.26 million, respectively, on the 49ers' salary cap. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman's deal takes up $6.175 million on the 49ers' cap this season.

The big spending to attract free agents to the team is likely over. The 49ers have $45.1 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association. That figure does not include a projected $8.3 million to sign their 2018 rookie class, according to overthecap.com.

The major spending for this offseason is over because the 49ers have apparently looked to the future and set aside cap space with the idea of retaining some of their own players whose contracts are winding down.

The first decisions for the future must occur by May 3, the deadline for picking up the fifth-year options on first-round picks from the 2015 draft. The 49ers have decisions to make on defensive lineman Arik Armstread and left guard Laken Tomlinson, who was acquired from Detroit in a trade just prior to the start of the 2017 regular season.

It is still unclear how or if Armstead’s skills fit into the 49ers’ defense. He opened last season at the team's pass-rush end before moving to the "big end," which also appears to be first-round pick Solomon Thomas' best position.

Tomlinson showed reasons for the 49ers to be optimistic about his future as his play got better as he acclimated to the offense. Among the guards already on the 49ers’ roster, Tomlinson appears to be the most likely to be a starter in 2018.

Presumptive starting safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents next offseason. Ward’s fifth-year option deal of one-year, $8.526 million became fully guaranteed last Wednesday. But in order for the 49ers to make a multi-year commitment, Ward would likely have to prove he can remain healthy and available for a full season.

DeForest Buckner is likely the target for the next blockbuster contract extension. Buckner has emerged as one of the top young defensive linemen in the league. Next offseason will be the first time the 49ers are permitted to negotiate a multi-year extension with him.

With a scarcity of offensive linemen available in the draft and free agency, right tackle Trent Brown could be set to cash in with an enormous deal next offseason – either with the 49ers or some other team.

DL Arik Armstead
FS Jimmie Ward
SS Jaquiski Tartt
RT Trent Brown
LB Eli Harold
LG Laken Tomlinson
K Robbie Gould
P Bradley Pinion

DL DeForest Buckner
LT Joe Staley
OG Joshua Garnett
DL Ronald Blair
TE Garrett Celek
RB Matt Breida (RFA)
WR Kendrick Bourne (RFA)

Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in


Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in

The 49ers concluded the first wave of the free-agent signing period with the signings of players to fill the team’s biggest offseason needs.

--Cornerback. Aqib Talib would have been the answer in a trade with the Denver Broncos, but he wanted to play elsewhere. Instead, the 49ers signed veteran Richard Sherman, whom the Seattle Seahawks cut a day earlier.

--Interior offensive line. Center Weston Richburg was the player the team had rated as their top target in free agency, and they signed him to a lucrative five-year deal.

--Running back. The team decided Jerick McKinnon was a better fit than Carlos Hyde. They wrapped him up with a four-year contract.

--Edge rusher. Lacking many options in free agency, the 49ers signed Jeremiah Attaochu to a one-year contract in hopes he will earn a spot on the team and make a contribution at the “Leo” position.

The 49ers can still use more help at a number of different positions, including cornerback, wide receiver, offensive line, linebacker and edge rusher. While the 49ers might add some role players in the second wave of free agency, most of the major acquisitions at this point are likely to come in the draft.

On the 49ers Insider Podcast, 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters addressed what positions he believes are strong in this year’s draft.

“I think running backs, absolutely. It’s a deep position,” Peters said. “Quarterbacks at the top is deeper than it was last year. Secondary, corners, it’s not deeper than it was last year, but it’s a strong class of corners. Those are the main ones. The offensive line class is a little better than last year, too.”

The 49ers got major contributions from their rookie class last season. Tight end George Kittle, receiver Trent Taylor, quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back Matt Breida, defensive lineman Solomom Thomas, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Adrian Colbert each played more than 300 snaps.

The 49ers feel good about Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, as a starter with Sherman on the other side. Peters said a lot of the team’s rookies played larger roles than expected in 2017, but Witherspoon might have been at the top of the list.

“I don’t think he was active for the first four games,” Peters said of Witherspoon. “And he ended up playing at a high level at the end. Really driven, conscientious player who wants to be great. 

"We were lucky we got a chance to play a lot of rookies because that’ll help us moving forward.”