49ers

Instant Analysis: 49ers suffer five more injuries, lose to Cards, fall to 0-9

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: 49ers suffer five more injuries, lose to Cards, fall to 0-9

BOX SCORE

SANTA CLARA – Losses and injuries continue to appear in great abundance for the 49ers this season.

The 49ers on Sunday remained winless with a 20-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals while also taking on another handful of injuries to their depleted game-day roster.

The 49ers lost five more players due to injuries in the first half: Fullback Kyle Juszczyk (neck), safety Jaquiski Tartt (wrist), wide receiver Trent Taylor (ribs), tight end Cole Hikutini (knee) and special-teams player Elijah Lee (knee).

Moreover, six of the 49ers’ seven inactive players were not available for the game due to injuries: offensive linemen Joe Staley (eye) and Garry Gilliam (knee), defensive linemen Solomon Thomas (knee), Aaron Lynch (calf) and D.J.. Jones (knee), and defensive back K’Waun Williams (quadricep). The 49ers also placed wide receiver Pierre Garçon on injured reserve Saturday with a neck injury.

The losses in the standings are piling up, too. The 49ers last week became the first club in franchise history to start with eight consecutive losses to open the season.

Now 0-9, the 49ers own the NFL’s worst record because the Cleveland Browns (0-8) were on their bye week.

Juszczyk gift-wrapped the Cardinals their first points of the game in the first quarter.

While struggling for extra yards at the end of a 5-yard reception, Juszczyk was stripped by Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Patrick Peterson scooped it up and returned it 47 yards.

Three plays later, the Cardinals scored on Drew Stanton’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown between 49ers linebacker Brock Coyle and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.

The Cardinals increased their lead to 14-3 in the second quarter when tight end Jermaine Gresham got inside position against Witherspoon to catch an 11-yard touchdown pass from Stanton in the second quarter.

The 49ers pulled to within four points on C.J. Beathard’s 1-yard run to cap a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter.

QUARTERBACK WATCH
Newly acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo warmed up intermittently on the 49ers’ sideline during the game but never got into action. But there were many close calls along the way.

Beathard was under pressure throughout the game behind the 49ers’ makeshift offensive line that consisted of Trent Brown at left tackle and undrafted rookie Erik Magnuson at right tackle.

Beathard was sacked five times and absorbed 16 hits from the Cardinals pass rush.

Beathard completed 24 of 51 pass attempts for 294 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating was 57.1.

Running back Carlos Hyde was the 49ers’ leading pass-catcher with nine receptions for 84 yards. He added 41 yards rushing on 12 carries.

FIGHT AND EJECTIONS
Hyde was ejected, along with two Cardinals defensive players, after a fight erupted when Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea was called for a personal foul for a high hit on a sliding Beathard.

Arizona linebacker Haason Reddick and defensive lineman Frostee Rucker were ejected for their actions during the scuffle.

THIS ‘N’ THAT
--On Tuesday, the 49ers traded Rashard Robinson, who started the first seven games before Witherspoon replaced him. The Cardinals on Sunday did not waste any time before going after Witherspoon. Stanton hit John Brown on a double-move for a 52- yard reception on the Cardinals’ first play of the game.

--Undrafted rookie Kendrick Bourne hauled in his first career reception – a 25-yard catch in the third quarter.

--Eric Reid, who moved back to safety after a couple of weeks at linebacker, recorded an interception in the end zone in the second quarter. It was Reid’s first interception this season and the ninth in his five-year career.

--New defensive tackle Tony McDaniel was credited with fumble recovery after Earl Mitchell forced an Adrian Peterson fumble late in the fourth quarter. Peterson finished with 159 yards on a career-high 37 rushing attempts.

Remaining healthy and productive is a stretch for 49ers tight end Kittle

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AP

Remaining healthy and productive is a stretch for 49ers tight end Kittle

Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch spoke separately in February about the need for 49ers tight end George Kittle to find a way to remain healthy.

It’s a reasonable concern. After all, Kittle sustained a hamstring injury on the third day of training camp. He was treated for injuries to his hip, chest, elbow, back, leg and ankle during the season.

Through it all, Kittle missed just one game due to an ankle injury and came through with an impressive rookie season after being chosen in the fifth round of last year’s draft from Iowa.

Kittle ranked second in the NFL among rookies in receiving yards last season. His 43 catches for 515 yards were the most by any rookie NFL tight end drafted after the fourth round.

The future is bright. But – as Shanahan and Lynch were pick to point out at the NFL scouting combine – Kittle must find a way to avoid injuries. Kittle addressed his offseason training regimen during the 49ers Insider Podcast.

“I was banged up a little bit,” Kittle said. “I did a whole offseason of just preparing my body -- a lot of band work -- to get my body used to hard hits and stuff like that. I did as much stretching as I could because the more flexible you are, the less likely you are to pull something.”

Kittle said no player can ever eliminate the possibility of injuries, but he took steps he believes will give him a better chance to remain able to perform.

“I think you can protect against some injuries,” Kittle said. “You can’t protect against, you’re running an outside zone and a guy falls down behind you onto your ankle or something. You can’t control stuff like that.

“I think a lot of it is luck of the draw, in my opinion. But there are things you can do to help yourself. If a stiff guy gets hit from behind, his likelihood of getting hurt is probably higher than a guy who’s super-limber.”

As a tight end, Kittle has to balance building up the weight and strength required to block defensive ends, while also remaining light enough to run pass patterns against defensive backs.

Kittle is currently in the same situation as quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard, as each is going through his first full offseason program with the 49ers in Santa Clara.

“They’re both fantastic quarterbacks,” Kittle said.

Beathard, a college teammate of Kittle, started five games last season.

“He proved his toughness, taking hits, getting up, making plays,” Kittle said of Beathard.

In the final five games with Garoppolo at quarterback, Kittle caught 15 passes for 224 yards. He caught four passes for 100 yards in the season finale against the Los Angeles Rams to become the first 49ers rookie tight end since Monty Stickles in 1960 to have 100 yards receiving in a game.

Kittle praised Garoppolo for his leadership and his uncanny ability to locate the open man.

“It’s fun because you know you’re going to get the ball,” Kittle said. “He sees the whole field at all times.”

Garoppolo getting to know new 49ers teammates without coaches around

Garoppolo getting to know new 49ers teammates without coaches around

Although the first two weeks of the NFL offseason program are limited to strength and conditioning training, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has already gotten an opportunity to play with a couple of his new toys.

Garoppolo has taken part in throwing sessions during the week at the team’s facility, where coaches are not allowed on the field with the players until next week. On the weekends, he has organized additional activities with his teammates at a park in the South Bay.

“We had our first one this weekend,” Garoppolo said on Monday at Levi’s Stadium after another day of workouts. “It’s just something that I like to do. It kinds of gets us away from the coaches and everything, and allows me to talk to the receivers about specific things, or the tight ends or running backs.

“We try to get everyone out there that we can. I understand people have things that they have to get to. But we had a great showing this Saturday. It was good. Just to be on the same page with those guys, talking through route concepts and how they see it versus how I see it. It just gets us on the same page.”

Among the players who have taken part in the sessions are wide receiver Pierre Garçon and running back Jerick McKinnon, likely to be among the team’s top pass-catchers this season.

Garoppolo’s five starts with the 49ers came after Garçon was sidelined with a neck injury after eight games. Garçon was on pace for a 1,000-yard season before going on injured reserve. The 49ers targeted McKinnon as an upgrade over Carlos Hyde due to his playmaking ability, including catching passes out of the backfield.

McKinnon and center Weston Richburg were players the 49ers front office heavily pursued and signed on the first day of free agency. They were the first major pieces the 49ers added after signing Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million contract in February.

“Those are good guys,” Garoppolo said. “They fit what we’re trying to do here and they work hard, so when you bring that to the table, it’s always good.”

Garoppolo is continuing in his first offseason with the 49ers something he said he began during his days at Rolling Meadows High School in a northwest suburb of Chicago.

”It’s one of those things, when the coaches aren’t there you kind of see a different side of guys,” Garoppolo said. “They open up a little bit or tell you how they see a concept compared to how it is written in the book. Just a little bit at a time for us to talk through things, I guess.”