49ers

Dumervil sets sights well beyond 100-sack milestone

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USATSI

Dumervil sets sights well beyond 100-sack milestone

Elvis Dumervil, who agreed to a two-year contract with the 49ers this week, has his sights set well beyond just reaching the 100-sack milestone.

After being limited to nine sacks in 24 games over the past two seasons while struggling with an Achilles injury, Dumervil told NBC Sports Bay Area he believes the 49ers will be vastly improved from a team that went 2-14 last season under Chip Kelly.

"I think we’ll surprise a lot of people with the roster we have," he said. "Me personally, a lot of people will be surprised with the way I move this year. I’m excited."

Dumervil, a five-time Pro Bowl player, is confident he has plenty of good football remaining in his 33-year-old body, which influenced his decision-making this offseason after the Baltimore Ravens released him in March.

“If it was a situation where I felt it was my last year, that’s all I have left, I just want to win the Super Bowl (because) I just got one year left on my body, I could have gone about it different,” Dumervil said.

“A lot of people are confused about where I’m at physically and mentally. . . Mentally and physically, I feel great. I know I have a few years left, for sure.”

Dumervil matched his career-best with 17 sacks in 2014. But his production dropped to six sacks the following season while playing through an Achilles injury that plagued him from training camp. He underwent surgery in February 2016 to repair an Achilles that was 60-percent torn.

Dumervil returned in the fourth week of last season. After playing two games, he was sidelined five more games before finishing the season.

His two sacks in eight games gave Dumervil 99 career sacks in 146 games over 10 NFL seasons.

“The last two years, I really didn’t play because I was dealing with an Achilles injury.,” Dumervil said. “Sometimes you don’t know if you’re hurt or injured. It was a situation where I thought I was hurt. You play through hurt. But I was really injured.”

Dumervil said he spoke with a “handful of teams” during the three months he remained on the market as a free agent but decided to sign with the 49ers because of several factors, including his familiarity with general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan.

In Dumervil’s first two NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos, Lynch was his teammate. Also, Shanahan’s father, Mike, was the Denver coach who selected Dumervil in the fourth round of the 2006 draft.

Dumervil said first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh helped sell him on the idea of signing with the 49ers during their meeting in Santa Clara last week.

“I was very impressed with coach Saleh, Robert Saleh," Dumervil said. "I really didn’t know him. But we sat down and talked football. I knew the offense. I’m really not concerned on that side. But I didn’t know the defensive coordinator. That’s why I wanted to go out and talk football. “

Dumervil has experienced a lot of different schemes in his career. During his first seven NFL seasons with the Broncos, Dumervil played under six different defensive coordinators. He said that versatility should enable him to fit wherever he's most needed.

“I’ve been around a lot of different defensive schemes: 3-4, 4-3, defensive end, outside linebacker,” Dumervil said. “I’ve done it. When I sat down with (Saleh), I was very impressed by his style and his vision and the way he makes things simplified. I was very impressed, ‘Man, I like what he’s talking about.’ I think he’s going to be a very good defensive coordinator.

“For me, it’s just a matter of hitting the quarterback. That’s what I envision.”

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

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USATSI

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

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AP

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.