Instant Analysis: 49ers' top draft picks show promise in preseason opener win

Instant Analysis: 49ers' top draft picks show promise in preseason opener win


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When John Lynch stacked his first draft board as 49ers general manager, he listed Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster behind only Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick of the Cleveland Browns.

Of course, the 49ers ended up with Thomas and Foster. And on Friday night, in the 49ers’ exhibition opener, both players showed glimpses of what the club hopes they can deliver in games that matter.

The Kyle Shanahan era had an unofficial beginning on Friday night, as the 49ers opened the exhibition season with a 27-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

All in all, it was a sloppy opening act, which is almost always the case when few players who will stick on either team’s 53-man roster saw extended playing time.

Thomas, the No. 3 pick in the draft, and Foster, chosen at No. 31 overall, were the exceptions. They figure into the 49ers immediate plans, and both played more than half the game.

Thomas did not start but made an immediate impact with a pressure on Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Tyler Bray, which led to an interception for cornerback Rashard Robinson. Thomas finished with two tackles, including ranging to the sideline to deliver a big hit on tight end Orson Charles for a 4-yard gain.

He played into the fourth quarter and ended on a couple of down notes. He was taken to the ground by a cut block from running back Charcandrick West, enabling Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to roll to his right, unpressured, and find receiver Marcus Kemp for a 1-yard touchdown pass.

Later, the team’s medical staff looked at Thomas’s left shoulder and neck area.

Foster started alongside NaVorro Bowman and played the entire first half. He recorded two tackles and nearly collected an interception while breaking up a pass at the goal line in the first quarter.

Thomas is competing against Tank Carradine for the starting job at defensive end. Foster is the clear favorite to take over for weakside linebacker Malcolm Smith, who sustained a season-ending torn pectoral muscle last week.


Robinson, who appears to be unchallenged for one starting job, got off to a rough start. But he ended his evening on a positive note.

Robinson was in coverage against Tyreek Hill on Alex Smith’s 33-yard pass completion on the first play. He later missed a tackle on a third-down play that enabled the Chiefs to score a touchdown on their opening drive.

Robinson was also in coverage on an apparent 83-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Bray to Chris Conley. The play was called back due to an offensive pass interference call against Conley. Five plays later, Robinson recorded his interception.

“It was good to see them get a turnover,” Kyle Shanahan told KPIX at halftime on the local TV broadcast. “Especially, Rashard, coming out and getting beat on the go-route early, coming back and made the interception. I’m glad how the guys battled. Not everything was perfect, but it was a good start.”


Starting quarterback Brian Hoyer played two series before turning it over to those competing to be his backup. Hoyer completed just one of four pass attempts for 3 yards.

Matt Barkley played the remainder of the first half, completing 10 of 17 pass attempts for 168 yards, including a 63-yarder to Aldrick Robinson.

Rookie C.J. Beathard started the third quarter. He made two outstanding throws to Kendrick Bourne on back-to-back passes to pull the 49ers into a 17-17 tie early in the fourth quarter.

Beathard hung in to deliver a pass down the field to Bourne just before taking a big hit. Bourne turned the play into a 46-yard touchdown. Beathard and Bourne teamed up for a nicely executed fade route for the two-point conversion.

Beathard completed 7 of 11 passes for 101 yards with two touchdowns. He also tossed a 2-yard scoring pass to fullback Tyler McCloskey.


--Defensive end Aaron Lynch, working with the second team, recorded two sacks in the first half. He worked over Chiefs right tackle Jah Reid, a seven-year NFL veteran. Lynch also batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

--Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner started but was removed from the game early due to a bothersome ankle. Buckner remained standing on the sideline and he jogged off the field at halftime.

--Wide receiver Aaron Burbridge was ruled out at the beginning of the third quarter with a hamstring injury. Defensive lineman Ronald Blair went down with a groin injury in the fourth quarter and did not return.

--Rookie running back Joe Williams ripped off 17-yard carries on his first two touches. He finished with 60 yards on seven rushing attempts.

--Running back Kapri Bibbs, who is competing for a backup job, did himself no favors as Kevin Pierre-Louis pushed him out of the way to block a Bradley Pinion punt in the third quarter.

--The 49ers committed eight penalties for 65 yards in the first half, including an offensive pass-interference penalty on Burbridge that nullified Barkley’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Robinson.

--Guard Joshua Garnett (knee), cornerback Dontae Johnson (concussion) and linebacker Donavin Newsom (concussion) did not make the trip to Kansas City. Garnett is expected to be out four-to-six weeks after undergoing a procedure to clean up cartilage.

--Jimmie Ward remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list with a hamstring injury. Safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), running back Tim Hightower (knee), tight end George Kittle (hamstring) and linebacker Brock Coyle (ribs) did not play.

--Joe Staley (offense), NaVorro Bowman (defense) and Burbridge (special teams) were named captains. Burbridge, a wide receiver who caught seven passes for 88 yards last season as a rookie, has a strong chance to win a roster spot because of his skills on special teams.

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine


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.

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care


Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

SANTA CLARA – In less than a year since a group of former 49ers players came together to form the Golden Heart Fund, the non-profit organization has provided valuable assistance.

“We’ve made some progress with the idea of knowing there are some people in need, so we’ve been able to make some grants to some of the ex-Niners,” Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We’ve been able to respond. This is more about us being able to give guys the ability to know they can have, as (former 49ers linebacker and Golden Heart Fund board member) Ron Ferrari says, a hand up not a hand out.”

The organization is in the midst of a fund-raising drive this week in conjunction with "Dwight Clark Day" on Sunday. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and Clark will be the guest of honor. More than 35 players from the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team are expected to be in attendance.

Clark played nine seasons for the 49ers and provided the most memorable play in franchise history with “The Catch” against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, which propelled the organization to its first Super Bowl. Clark served as a front-office executive for a decade after his playing days.

In March, Clark announced he was diagnosed with ALS. He is scheduled to attend Sunday’s game and make some remarks at halftime from a suite.

“It’s unbelievable we are having an opportunity to celebrate an incredible day for this gentleman,” Lott said. “We can all say there was a moment in time in which we stood on his shoulders after making that catch. Now, we get a chance to lift him up a little bit and let him know how much we all care.”

Lott said Clark has been a champion of the Golden Heart Fund from its inception. Past and current 49ers ownership has supported the organization, which provides financial support for former 49ers players in times of physical, emotional and financial need.

“It’s the spirit of Dwight,” Lott said. “It’s more about the funds going in through his efforts. He’s paying it forward.”

--The public can made a direct contribution to the fund at GoldenHeartFund.org.

--Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at Sunday’s game will benefit the Golden Heart Fund.

--Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sales of Dwight Clark apparel purchased on game day will go to the fund.

--Half of all proceeds from admission to the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium throughout the year will go to the charity.

-- On Sunday, Nov. 19, Levi’s Stadium and race grand marshal Roger Craig will host the first Golden Heart 4.9K Run with all proceeds from the event going to the Golden Heart Fund. Runners can register GoldenHeartRun.com.