49ers

Chance for Willis to play Saturday

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Chance for Willis to play Saturday

SANTA CLARA -- Linebacker Patrick Willis has not sustained any setbacks and said it's fair to say he's made "significant progress" after sustaining a right hamstring strain on Dec. 4.Willis continues to work closely with 49ers head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson and Mark Uyeyama, the 49ers' head strength and conditioning coach. Willis ran at three-quarters speed as part of his rehab Monday night before the 49ers' 20-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park.He said there is a chance he can play Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks."I'm certainly hoping so. I'll just continue to do what 'Ferg,' our head trainer, asks me to do," Willis said on Tuesday. "And each day has been great. I most certainly hope to get back soon."
The 49ers want to be cautious with Willis to guard against any aggravation of the injury."Honestly, these last couple weeks, I've done everything that the trainers have asked me to do and worked with (Uyeyama) and (Ferguson) and our whole training staff," Willis said. "And we're just taking it one day at a time and being smart. Each day, my whole mindset is to get better with no setbacks. We've certainly done that. So we continue to work and when the pull the chains off, come back just as strong as I left off -- if not better."Larry Grant has stepped in and played well in Willis' position. But Willis said he remains just as eager to get back into the lineup."If I looked at it like that, I feel like I wouldn't be giving myself a chance to get better," Willis said. "I feel like I wouldn't be me. Larry has stepped in and done a remarkable job."

Reuben Foster ready for leadership role with 49ers

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AP

Reuben Foster ready for leadership role with 49ers

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ pass coverage from their linebackers has been a disaster this season.

But help is on the way, as rookie Reuben Foster is expected to return to action Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys after sustaining a high right ankle sprain just 11 plays into the season opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 10.

“He’s been battling to get back,” 49ers Kyle Shanahan said on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

“He’s been hitting the rehab hard. We’ve had him out here for two weeks of practice, and I think he had his best week of practice. This week was much better than last week. I’m excited to get him out there.”

Last week, the 49ers cut veteran NaVorro Bowman, leaving Ray-Ray Armstrong and Brock Coyle as the starting inside linebackers. They were overmatched in the 49ers' 26-24 loss at Washington.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins looked no further than his running backs in the passing game, as Chris Thompson caught four passes for 105 yards and Samaje Perine had three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers expect Foster to provide an immediate upgrade with no expectations of perfection.

“It’s going to be his first time playing in a while,” Shanahan said. “I know there are going to be some bumps in the road. But I think he’ll have a big impact on our defense and our team overall.”

Foster will take over at Bowman’s middle linebacker position and be responsible for communication the play calls and adjustments to the rest of the defense. Shanahan said Foster is ready to handle the important role.

“That’s the one thing that’s been the most impressive about him,” Shanahan said. “Everyone can see stuff on tape that’s impressive. But we didn’t know how much command he’d have until he got here. And from the first day of OTAs through training camp -- even walk-throughs when he was hurt -- when he gets in there, he speaks that language. He takes control and people listen to him.”

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

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USATSI

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.”