SANTA CLARA -- Detroit's starting defensive linemen are the same explosive four players the 49ers faced last season in their upset win at Ford Field.And San Francisco is preparing for an enhanced version of that defensive front Sunday evening at Candlestick Park."This year they are a lot more dialed in, more experienced," said right guard Alex Boone. "Working another year together, so they are more fluent with each other. (I've) seen a lot of great quickness and speed and power from all of them."That power and speed was front and center in Week 1. The Lions burst into the NFL season sacking St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford four times in their 27-23 victory. The defensive line was responsible for all of them. Starters Cliff Avril, Corey Williams and Ndamukong Suh each tallied a hit along with key backup Nick Fairley."They line their D-line up in different configurations. They pressure more. They blitz you more," explained 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. "I mean they are rushing, they are attacking. They are trying to destroy blocks, destroy blocking schemes on the way to the quarterback. Just because you're in pass rush mode, doesn't mean you're not playing the run. So, it's not just hey these guys are up the field, they're just playing the pass, not so fast."Those kinds of challenges are what drives Roman to create the unusual, yet highly effective, offensive formations he is becoming known for. Like a master chef who has the know-how to blend contrasting ingredients into flavorful fare, Roman takes a player's unique trait and mixes ideas until he comes up with a way to get that skill set in a game.There is no secret to the inspiration behind the new formation he rolled out against Green Bay. Roman gave new meaning to the term "jumbo package" when he put Leonard Davis (6-foot-6, 355 pounds) and Daniel Kilgore (6-3, 308) in to bulk up the blocking. Roman had the offensive linemen in positions they had never played before: Davis as a tight end, Kilgore as a wingback."You gotta press in and get in the book, the playbook, and learn a little more," Davis said. "It's a little more detail you have to pay attention to. It's kind of fun and kind of challenging at times being on the edge and controlling what's going on at the end of the line of scrimmage."Said Kilgore, "It's a first for me and Leonard. It's fun. I enjoy it. It's just getting in there and practicing it and getting used to the angles because it's much different from where I am at center."The super-sized package worked perfectly against the Packers as Frank Gore ran for a 23 yard touchdown with Davis, Kilgore and fullback Bruce Miller clearing the path. "Watching Leonard run out there is kinda funny," Boone said as he gave the 'G' version of the Packer's players reactions as they saw the massive three-time Pro Bowler come on the field. "'You gotta be kidding me. Come on seriously?' He comes out there and he's just so big."Roman does not want it known just how many new offensive schemes he's created incorporating Davis' rare size and strength."A lot," he said.But Roman is sure to unveil more of them against the Lions. Not forgotten is Kyle Vanden Bosch's hit on Alex Smith on the 49ers first offensive play of the game last year. The sack led to a fumble and a quick field goal off the turnover for the Lions.But Roman's big men formations are designed more for the benefit of what they bring to the 49ers offense than they are for the detriment of the opponent."More importantly, just attitude," Boone said. "Physicality, and that's one of the things that whole formation brings is just the fact that we are going to try and run an attitude play. We're not really deviating from anything.""We always have that mentality," Kilgore said. "That's the way our offense is ran. Coach Greg Roman and Coach Harbaugh and all the other coaches do a great job of putting us in a great position to win. We go out there and execute it during the week and on Sundays we're ready to go so yeah, our mentality is, try and stop us."AP Images
SANTA CLARA – While rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard is taking a micro view of his promotion, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is not shy about admitting he is looking at the big picture.
Shanahan said how Beathard performs after replacing Brian Hoyer as starting quarterback will have “a ton” of influence on how the 49ers proceed during the offseason.
After all, the 49ers know every position will come under tremendous scrutiny as the organization looks to add the pieces that will make the club competitive.
“That’s for every position. That’s for every player on our team. That’s for every coach on our team,” Shanahan said. “We’re 0-6, and that’s extremely tough. But I’m extremely excited about this place and excited about where we’re at and where we’re going. There’s not a moment that I don’t waste thinking about that stuff.”
Beathard will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.
Hoyer failed in his bid to earn consideration as the 49ers’ quarterback for the remainder of this season and beyond during his six starts. Hoyer completed just 58 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 74.1.
Now, Beathard gets his chance. But he said he is not thinking about the big picture and what it might mean for the future.
“I’m really just trying to take it one day, one week at a time,” Beathard said. “I’m not looking that far ahead. Right now, my focus is on today’s practice and geared towards beating the Cowboys and doing the best we can to get better and improve.”
Beathard was pressed into action last week when Hoyer’s struggles continued at Washngton. Beathard stepped in and completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For the first time, Beathard is getting the first-team practice snaps with a game plan that is designed specifically for him.
Said Beathard, “Getting those extra reps, reps with guys that you don’t usually throw to, in the huddle with the guys that are out there, I think it’ll help a lot.”
More than 35 players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl champion will be in attendance on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium to show support for Dwight Clark, who revealed in March he was diagnosed with ALS.
Clark, 60, will have ample opportunity to reconnect with some of his old friends on Saturday evening and again on Sunday. At halftime, Joe Montana, surrounded by most of the 49ers' 1981 team, will introduce Clark before a video tribute.
Clark is also expected to make some remarks while situated in a suite for the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Montana and his wife, Jennifer, have remained in close contact with Clark and his wife, Kelly. The Clarks recently watched the Blue Angels in San Francisco with the Montanas during Fleet Week.
“He’s getting pretty inundated with everyone staying in touch with him at this point,” Montana said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.
“It’s fun for him. At one point, he was telling his wife, Kelly, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is what I want and what I miss, seeing the guys.’ So any of the guys reaching out to him, he surely appreciates it.”
Montana said Clark has not lost his positive outlook or his sense of humor, as evidenced by some not-fit-for-print words he recently had about his wheelchair. Montana said there are always some good laughs and stories any time Clark gets together with his friends.
“That’s the fun part," Montana said. “You just try to get him to forget what’s there, and that you’re there for him whenever. I think the support is the biggest thing right now. In that stage of ALS, it's got to be getting tough, where all of a sudden, things are becoming more and more difficult.”