SANTA CLARA -- Guard Leonard Davis passed his physical and the team's conditioning test Thursday morning.And, now, he's ready to compete to return to a familiar role as a starter.Davis, 33, has started all 155 games in which he appeared with the Arizona Cardinals (six seasons) and Dallas Cowboys (four seasons). Last year, he signed with the Detroit Lions at midseason as an insurance policy and never stepped on the field.In March, he visited the 49ers shortly after undergoing foot surgery. It was the only free-agent visit he made in the offseason. He said he was cleared medically in April or May."I was hoping it was going to happen sooner," Davis said of the one-year deal he signed with the 49ers. "But they had decisions to make. And at the time, me not being here was the best decision. Right now, I'm here and I'm glad to be here and be a part of the team and help the team be successful."Davis' chance to break into the starting lineup will likely come at right guard. Alex Boone was moved from tackle to right guard during the offseason, as the 49ers look to replace Adam Snyder. The 49ers did not offer Snyder a free-agent contract and he signed with the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason.Davis said he is a good fit for the 49ers because of the team's affinity for running the football. Davis (6-foot-6, 375 pounds) is built to provide push in the run game."I felt like that last year when I was in Detroit," Davis said when asked if he feels he can still be a starter. "But when I got there, they told me, explained what my role was, and at the time they had great chemistry. So they didn't want to do anything to mess that up."Lions guards Rob Sims and Stephen Peteman started all 16 games last season.Davis showed up Thursday morning in good shape. He was able to pass the team's conditioning test with 18 runs of 40 yards in under 7 seconds, he said."I went out and ran it," he said. "They told me to do a certain number, but I was kind of like, 'This isn't too bad,' and I did the same as everyone else."
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.”
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.