Kaepernick's playoff plan -- no changes


Kaepernick's playoff plan -- no changes

SANTA CLARA -- Rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick has attempted a total of five regular-season passes in a couple of 49ers blowout victories this season.But he remains on high alert in case he is needed.Each week, Kaepernick supplies offensive coordinator Greg Roman a list of the pass plays in which he feels the most confident. That play list often coincides with Alex Smith's list -- because those are the plays Kaepernick finds himself discussing with Smith.Though Kaepernick and Smith feature different styles, Kaepernick said if he were pressed into action Saturday against the New Orleans Saints, the 49ers' offense would not change a bit.
Here's a Q&A that CSN Bay Area conducted with Kaepernick:How are you developing?
Kaepernick: "Good. Just getting more comfortable every week."It's always the question of the backup quarterback -- you're just one snap away -- do you envision a scenario to get yourself mentally prepared where you're in the game?
Kaepernick: "That's something . . . you always want to be on the field, but the way things are going right now, I don't want to envision anything happening with Alex (Smith), where he's getting hurt."How about him breaking his shoe string, and you have to play?
Kaepernick: "Yeah, while he's fixing his shoestring, going in and play a little bit."How confident are you that you could go in there and do all the pre-snap stuff you have to do against the Saints and get the team down the field?
Kaepernick: "Very confident."How much time do you get in practice with the ones?
Kaepernick: "A little, here and there. But that's my responsibility in being a professional is having to know what you need to do, even if you don't get practice reps."Where do you think you've made your biggest strides since the exhibition season?
Kaepernick: "I think just being comfortable with everything: the terminology, the offense, being able to read things quicker and getting through progressions."What do you do during a game? Do you make the calls in your mind as you're watching from the sideline?
Kaepernick: "I'm watching the defense. There are times when Alex will ask me to watch certain things, just in case he's not seeing it how he wants to. But for the most part I'm watching the defense to see what they're doing."Can you help Alex?
Kaepernick: "Yeah, there are times when he asks me what they're doing on this receiver, what did they do here? That's part of my job of being a backup."It's obviously a different vantage point than being behind center, but are you able to see the field?
Kaepernick: "Yeah, you can tell what the defense is doing, for the most part. You might not be able to tell exactly how wide somebody is, but for the most part, you have a good feel."In college, how much reading of defenses did you do?
Kaepernick: "Defenses are more complex, but we still had checks and audibles, stuff like that in college."Are you more advanced in that area of it than a year ago?
Kaepernick: "Defenses are more complex in the NFL, so you have to be able to see a lot more things than you do in college to get a key."What will this week be like for you?
Kaepernick: "Same as every other week. You have to prepare the same, make sure you're ready to go."Does Greg Roman ask you to supply plays with which you're most comfortable?
Kaepernick: "Yeah, they've done that with me. It's whatever we're most comfortable with, with whatever we're doing that week. At this point, I kind of feel like I'm on the same page as Alex, as far as these are the things we feel most comfortable with -- probably because I'm always asking him about those plays."

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


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


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.