49ers

Division title significant achievement for 49ers

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Division title significant achievement for 49ers

SANTA CLARA -- The first year quarterback Alex Smith came to the 49ers, a banner hung on a wall outside the locker room."Win the West!"That was 2005. The 49ers, just two seasons removed from an NFC West title, were coming off a 2-14 season.Now, the point has finally arrived. With Smith still at quarterback, the 49ers can wrap up the division title with a victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Candlestick Park.

"For anyone who's only been here, obviously, this is new territory for us," Smith said. "It's something we've talked about every year and to all of a sudden have it in our hands and a chance to clinch, it's great."Shortly after he was hired as 49ers coach, Mike Nolan had the banner displayed. It had helmets of the three other teams in the NFC West with a red "X" through each of them. But Nolan was not around to see the goal reached. Nolan was fired after recording an 18-37 record in 3 12 seasons. Fifteen players, including 11 current starters, remain from that era.
Nolan is currently the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator. The Dolphins declined to make him available for an interview."Organizationally, our policy is that assistant coaches (including our coordinators) only discuss our own players, and not players on other teams around the league," a Dolphins spokesman said.Mike Singletary followed Nolan as coach, and compiled an 18-22 record in 2 12 seasons. Thirteen players, including five starters, remain from the time Singletary was coach. Singletary, currently special assistant to the head coachlinebackers with the Minnesota Vikings, declined an interview request."Coach Singletary said he is happy for the 49ers organization but at this time he politely declines the request," said a Vikings spokesman.Jim Harbaugh, in his first season, has been able to take the 49ers where Nolan and Singletary could not. The 49ers (9-2) will clinch the NFC West with a victory or tie over the Rams. The 49ers can still wrap up the division title with a loss, as long as Seattle and Arizona both lose or tie."It's something we've mentioned this week, about the importance of this game," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. "But it's another game for us to go out and get better. It's a big game because it's an opportunity for us to do something we haven't done in a long time."Said Smith, "This is what you work so hard for. We put ourselves in a good situation and now we need to go out on Sunday and finish it."

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.

“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 communicating 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.”