49ers to watch: No. 1 -- LaMichael James


49ers to watch: No. 1 -- LaMichael James

Editor's note: This is the fourth part in a series that spotlights five 49ers players to watch in the team's final exhibition game Thursday, 7 p.m. (KCBW-TV), vs. the San Diego Chargers at Candlestick Park.

No. 5 -- WR Nathan PalmerNo. 4 -- CB Tramaine Brock

No. 3 -- WR Chris Owusu

No. 2 -- QB Scott TolzienNo. 1 -- RB LaMichael James
Perhaps the 49ers are just waiting for the regular season to unleash LaMichael James on the Green Bay Packers.James was a dynamic running back at Oregon, where he averaged 7.3 yards a carry during his final season. After declaring for the NFL draft, James was the 49ers' selection in the second round, No. 61 overall.In the first two exhibition games, James entered the game with backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Together, they ran a no-huddle, spread-option attack. James had eight carries for 36 yards (4.5 average) but sustained an ankle sprain while in pass protection in the closing minutes against the Houston Texans on Aug. 18. James did not make the trip to Denver for the game Sunday.James muffed a punt against the Texans and does not appear to be a reliable option, yet, in the return game. He is behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter on the depth chart at running back, with Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon also in the picture.
It's unclear how -- or if -- the 49ers plan to incorporate James into the game plan during the regular season. After all, teams are allowed to suit up only 46 players for games. And James has yet to clearly establish himself as one of those players.James, listed at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, is having difficulty transitioning to the NFL style. His quickness, elusiveness, speed and playmaking ability were constantly on display in Oregon's spread offense.James has not stood out at the next level, as he adapts to running in tighter quarters against quicker, stronger defenders. His learning experience should continue Thursday night against the Chargers in the final exhibition game.There is no question that James will be on the 49ers' regular-season roster. That part is never in question. But there is a question if the 49ers can devise a role for him.

Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions


Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions

SANTA CLARA – While rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard is taking a micro view of his promotion, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is not shy about admitting he is looking at the big picture.

Shanahan said how Beathard performs after replacing Brian Hoyer as starting quarterback will have “a ton” of influence on how the 49ers proceed during the offseason.

After all, the 49ers know every position will come under tremendous scrutiny as the organization looks to add the pieces that will make the club competitive.

“That’s for every position. That’s for every player on our team. That’s for every coach on our team,” Shanahan said. “We’re 0-6, and that’s extremely tough. But I’m extremely excited about this place and excited about where we’re at and where we’re going. There’s not a moment that I don’t waste thinking about that stuff.”

Beathard will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.

Hoyer failed in his bid to earn consideration as the 49ers’ quarterback for the remainder of this season and beyond during his six starts. Hoyer completed just 58 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 74.1.

Now, Beathard gets his chance. But he said he is not thinking about the big picture and what it might mean for the future.

“I’m really just trying to take it one day, one week at a time,” Beathard said. “I’m not looking that far ahead. Right now, my focus is on today’s practice and geared towards beating the Cowboys and doing the best we can to get better and improve.”

Beathard was pressed into action last week when Hoyer’s struggles continued at Washngton. Beathard stepped in and completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For the first time, Beathard is getting the first-team practice snaps with a game plan that is designed specifically for him.

Said Beathard, “Getting those extra reps, reps with guys that you don’t usually throw to, in the huddle with the guys that are out there, I think it’ll help a lot.”

Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates


Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates

More than 35 players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl champion will be in attendance on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium to show support for Dwight Clark, who revealed in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Clark, 60, will have ample opportunity to reconnect with some of his old friends on Saturday evening and again on Sunday. At halftime, Joe Montana, surrounded by most of the 49ers' 1981 team, will introduce Clark before a video tribute.

Clark is also expected to make some remarks while situated in a suite for the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Montana and his wife, Jennifer, have remained in close contact with Clark and his wife, Kelly. The Clarks recently watched the Blue Angels in San Francisco with the Montanas during Fleet Week.

“He’s getting pretty inundated with everyone staying in touch with him at this point,” Montana said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“It’s fun for him. At one point, he was telling his wife, Kelly, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is what I want and what I miss, seeing the guys.’ So any of the guys reaching out to him, he surely appreciates it.”

Montana said Clark has not lost his positive outlook or his sense of humor, as evidenced by some not-fit-for-print words he recently had about his wheelchair. Montana said there are always some good laughs and stories any time Clark gets together with his friends.

“That’s the fun part," Montana said. “You just try to get him to forget what’s there, and that you’re there for him whenever. I think the support is the biggest thing right now. In that stage of ALS, it's got to be getting tough, where all of a sudden, things are becoming more and more difficult.”