Cardinals' Bruce Arians: Shanahan-led 49ers similar to Harbaugh era


Cardinals' Bruce Arians: Shanahan-led 49ers similar to Harbaugh era

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has prepared for four different incarnations of the 49ers over the past four years.

Under first-year coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers are similar to how the team looked under Jim Harbaugh, not Jim Tomsula or Chip Kelly, according to Arians.

“(They’re) a lot more like when Jimmy was there,” Arians said Wednesday morning on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

“They’ve got an excellent offensive scheme that’s a proven winner. Brian Hoyer is a heck of a quarterback for that scheme. He knows it. He doesn’t make many mistakes. Good running back (Carlos Hyde). They’ve added some excellent receivers, so offensively they run the ball, great play action. A lot like those teams in the past.”

Arians said the 49ers’ defensive system is similar to what the Seahawks have done for most of the past decade but the 49ers have placed their own stamp on the scheme.

“Defensively, the personnel matches the defense perfectly," Arians said. "All those No. 1 picks on the defensive line look extremely impressive in this style of defense.”

The 49ers face the Cardinals on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, and the 49ers will see a lot of familar faces:

S Antoine Bethea
After starting all 39 games in which he appeared for the 49ers over the past three seasons, Bethea has nine tackles in the first three games. He has started only one of the Cardinals’ three games. Tyvon Branch is the Cardinals’ starting strong safety, but Bethea sees plenty of action in Arizona’s sub packages.

"Having known ‘Toine back in Indianapolis, I know the type of player and leader he was," Arians said. "He was somebody I wanted in our locker room."

Arians credited Bethea as part of the reason the Cardinals have had great communication in the secondary thus far.

LG Alex Boone
The Cardinals signed Boone shortly after he declined to take a pay reduction, prompting the Minnesota Vikings to release him just one season into a scheduled four-year, $26 million contract. Boone saw five snaps as a replacement for Mike Iupati in the Cardinals' opener.

“He’s been a great addition because he’s so smart and so tough,” Arians said.

Boone started the past two weeks, but left the game Monday night late in the fourth quarter with a pectoral injury. Boone could move over to right guard when Iupati and Boone are healthy. Arians said he would not know who will be able to start on the offensive line against the 49ers until he sees the players in pads during Thursday’s practice.

K Phil Dawson
Dawson, 42, who made 86.1 percent of his field-goal attempts with the 49ers, has gotten off to a slow start with the Cardinals. Dawson has made five of his eight attempts through three games.

Dawson pushed his 36-yard field goal attempt on Monday night wide right, which proved to halt the Cardinals’ momentum against the Dallas Cowboys. Arizona could have gone up 10-0 early in the second quarter of their eventual 28-17 loss.

QB Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert has been inactive for all three games as the Cardinals’ No. 3 quarterback behind Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton.

LG Mike Iupati
After starting 75 games over five seasons with the 49ers, Iupati signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Cardinals as a free agent in 2015. He started the season at left guard before missing the past two games with a triceps injury. His availability for Sunday's game will be determined later in the week, Arians said.

P Andy Lee
Lee, 35, a three-time Pro Bowl selection during his 11 seasons with the 49ers, is now with his fourth team in four years. The 49ers sent him to Cleveland in a 2015 trade. Then, he was traded to Carolina. The Cardinals signed him just prior to the start of the regular season after the Panthers cut him.

Lee is averaging 45.8 yards per punt (38.2 yards net) on 15 punts to open the season. Both marks are lower than his career average. The gross average is his lowest since 200, his third season in the league. The last time his net average was less than 39 yards was 2010, when he averaged 38.2.

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”