Five 49ers to watch: 5. Ikaika Alama-Francis


Five 49ers to watch: 5. Ikaika Alama-Francis

(This is the first part in a series that spotlights five 49ers players to watch in the team's exhibition game Sunday, 1 p.m. (FOX-TV), at the Denver Broncos.)The 49ers signed Ikaika Alama-Francis 10 days ago when they were quickly running out of outside linebackers.Aldon Smith sustained a right hip bruise. He is getting better. But it's still iffy whether he will be available to play against the Broncos. Ahmad Brooks missed a game with a knee injury. He should be back in the lineup Sunday. Undrafted rookie Kourtnei Brown (leg) does not figure to play, though.
The 49ers want to keep four outside linebackers on their 53-man roster, but only if that fourth player earns his spot on the team.After all, the 49ers kept four outside linebackers through the final cuts a year ago. But a day later, the 49ers cut Antwan Applewhite to make room for the addition of inside linebackerspecial-teamer Tavares Gooden.Behind the starters, the 49ers have a solid backup: Parys Haralson, who started all 16 games last season before yielding to Smith in pass-rush situations.After that, there are no clear-cut answers.Journeyman Eric Bakhtiari is the No. 4 right now. He played well in the second halves of the 49ers' first two exhibition games. Alama-Francis, who has played 35 games in five previous seasons with Detroit and Miami, will get a chance."He's got some potential," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Alama-Francis. "Hopefully we'll get him some good playing time this week and get him prepared to play."Alama-Francis (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) does not have much time to make his case for a roster spot. The first round of cuts from 90 to 75 are scheduled for Monday. Every NFL team must cut to 53 players by Friday at 6 p.m."I got a two-week window, so hopefully I can show them enough to be on this team for the 53," Alama-Francis told CSNBayArea.com this week. "You know how the NFL works: 'Hey, come in, get the job done or go home.' "

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Kyle Shanahan is, self admittedly, not a patient person. As he watched quarterback C.J. Beathard run the scout team over the last couple of weeks -- how he visualized an unfamiliar play, went through his progressions and handled the defensive coverages -- the head coach saw rapid improvement every day. But he suppressed any urge to play the rookie before he was ready.

“I tried to wait for the right time for him and the right time for the team,” Shanahan explained.

Down 14-0 to Washington halfway through the second quarter with starter Brian Hoyer struggling, Shanahan knew Beathard’s time had come.

“I felt the team needed it right then,” Shanahan said. “It also made me more confident to do it because I thought he was ready for it, also.”

Moments after the game was over, Shanahan named Beathard the starter. Watching the game tape on the flight home only bolstered his decision.

“By no means was he perfect, missed a couple of things, but that always happens,” Shanahan said. “I thought he came in there, didn’t hesitate, competed. The moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm, made a few off schedule plays and was a big reason we got back in that game.”

Beathard led the 49ers on two scoring drives and finished 19-of-36 with 245 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, though it came on fourth-and-20 on his final pass attempt of the game. On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, Beathard extended the play when the fifth year receiver wasn’t where he expected him to be.

“He was supposed to go to the post for a certain coverage, and they had a busted coverage, so he just hung out there which is why C.J. didn’t see it right away,” Shanahan explained. “We had enough protection where he could take a couple more hitches. He drove the pocket and saw where Aldrick was, and he didn’t hesitate. Made that throw with that arm strength.”

Shanahan smirked at his not-so-subtle dig at those who questioned Beathard’s arm strength during the draft process. He sees a quarterback who can make all the throws, and make them from the pocket, and scramble when he needs to. All he needs now, Shanahan contends, is experience.

“It’s about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He’s going to see a lot of things he hasn’t seen before, and that will change each week. It will probably change each quarter.”

Helping Beathard continue to grow through those experiences will require patience, but in this situation, it’s the kind the head coach can handle.

“You’re never going to get a quick answer. You see over time, but he’s got the ability to do it. He’s got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”

Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely


Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead will be out indefinitely with a broken hand, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday.

“He’s going to need surgery, so it’s going to be some time,” Shanahan said of Armstead, the 49ers' first-round pick in the 2015 draft.

The 49ers will discuss placing Armstead of injured reserve, which would rule him out for at least eight weeks. The 49ers will also be without defensive end Aaron Lynch this week against the Dallas Cowboys. Lynch is week-to-week with a calf strain.

“The more guys you lose, the less you like that depth,” Shanahan said. “Losing Arik, which could be some time. We’ll have to discuss IR. We have to do that over the next couple of days. We know we’re going to have Lynch out, too, for at least a week or most likely more. That takes away two guys who were helping.”

The 49ers might make a roster move to add a defensive lineman to their 53-man roster. The 49ers also expect outside linebacker/defensive end Dekoda Watson to return to action this week after missing two weeks with a groin strain.