49ers

Maiocco: 49ers 53-man roster analysis

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Maiocco: 49ers 53-man roster analysis

Sept. 7, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Quarterbacks3 Scott Tolzien 6-3, 210 Wisconsin Rookie Johnny Unitas Award winner as best senior in 20107 Colin Kaepernick 6-4, 230 Nevada Rookie Second-round pick makes difficult transition from Pistol offense11 Alex Smith 6-4, 217 Utah 7th yr. Finally has an offensive-minded head coachRunning backs21 Frank Gore 5-9, 217 Miami 7th yr. New contract and new status as team captain

24 Anthony Dixon 6-1, 233 Mississippi State 2nd yr. Big back needs to run like his size32 Kendall Hunter 5-7, 199 Oklahoma State Rookie Won job as Gore's backup with strong camp44 Moran Norris 6-1, 250 Kansas 11 Gore prefers his lead-blocking style49 Bruce Miller 6-2, 248 Central Florida Rookie Impressive conversion from defensive endWide receivers10 Kyle Williams 5-10, 186 Arizona State 2nd yr. Slot receiver battling for playing time15 Michael Crabtree 6-1, 215 Texas Tech 3rd yr. Easing back into form after broken foot17 Braylon Edwards 6-3, 215 Michigan 7th yr. Signed one-year deal to rebuild career19 Ted Ginn 5-11, 180 Ohio State 5th yr. Contributions will come in the return game84 Joshua Morgan 6-1, 215 Virginia Tech 4th yr. Big-play threat with 15.9 avg.Tight ends46 Delanie Walker 6-0, 242 Central Missouri 6th yr. Should benefit from tight end-friendly coaching85 Vernon Davis 6-3, 250 Maryland 6th yr. Among the elites at his positionOffensive linemen59 Jonathan Goodwin 6-3, 318 Michigan 10th yr. Only 49er with a Super Bowl ring62 Chilo Rachal 6-5, 323 USC 4th yr. Can be a force as a run-blocker67 Daniel Kilgore 6-3, 308 Appalachian State Rookie Fifth-round pick shows plenty of promise68 Adam Snyder 6-6, 325 Oregon 7th yr. Spirited fight before losing starting center job74 Joe Staley 6-5, 315 Central Michigan 5th yr. Plagued by injuries past two years75 Alex Boone 6-8, 300 Ohio State 2nd yr. Earned job as backup tackle on both sides76 Anthony Davis 6-5, 323 Rutgers 2nd yr. Lost 26 pounds since opening of camp77 Mike Iupati 6-5, 331 Idaho 2nd yr. Quickly became man 49ers ran behind as rookie78 Mike Person 6-4, 299 Montana State Rookie Teams plans to develop versatile draft pickDefensive linemen90 Isaac Sopoaga 6-2, 330 Hawaii 8th yr. Moves to NT to replace Aubrayo Franklin91 Ray McDonald 6-3, 290 Florida 5th yr. His 5-year, 20 million deal was biggest of offseason92 Will Tukuafu 6-4, 293 Oregon 1st yr. Makes jump after year on practice squad93 Ian Williams 6-1, 305 Notre Dame Rookie Undrafted but not unwanted, chose between 15 teams94 Justin Smith 6-4, 285 Missouri 11th yr. Mr. Consistency is only getting better95 Ricky Jean Francois 6-3, 295 LSU 3rd yr. Can back up at any spot on the line96 Demarcus Dobbs 6-3, 285 Georgia Undrafted Earned his way onto team with stellar campLinebackers51 Blake Costanzo 6-1, 235 Lafayette 4th yr. Hand-picked by Brad Seely, special teams coach52 Patrick Willis 6-1, 240 Mississippi 5th yr. Four-time Pro Bowl pick will blitz more53 NaVorro Bowman 6-0, 242 Penn State 2nd yr. Takes over for veteran Takeo Spikes54 Larry Grant 6-1, 251 Ohio State 3th yr. Signed to backup role by team that drafted him55 Ahmad Brooks 6-3, 259 Virginia 6th yr. Clear winner of LOLB starting job with strong camp56 Tavares Gooden 6-1, 242 Miami 4th yr. Reunites with Vic Fangio, his LB coach with Ravens98 Parys Haralson 6-0, 255 Tennessee 6th yr. Eight sacks in '08, just nine the past two seasons99 Aldon Smith 6-4, 258 Missouri Rookie He'll be used initially as pass-rush specialistDefensive backs20 Madieu Williams 6-1, 203 Maryland 8th yr. Experienced safety provides valuable depth22 Carlos Rogers 6-0, 192 Auburn 7th yr. Team believes he's an upgrade over Nate Clements25 Tarell Brown 5-10, 193 Texas 5th yr. Gets first chance to open as starter26 Tramaine Brock 5-10, 195 Bellhaven 2nd yr. In the mix for a role in nickel coverage27 C.J. Spillman 6-0, 199 Marshall 3rd yr. Could be 49ers' top tackler on special teams29 Chris Culliver 6-0, 199 South Carolina Rookie Talented rookie will spend year developing30 Reggie Smith 6-1, 200 Oklahoma 4th yr. Atop depth chart at free safety before knee injury31 Donte Whitner 5-10, 208 Ohio State 6th yr. Free-agent pickup becomes QB of secondary36 Shawntae Spencer 6-1, 190 Pittsburgh 8th yr. Presumptive starter missed camp with hamstring strain38 Dashon Goldson 6-2, 200 Washington 5th yr. Returned on one-year deal to prove himself43 Colin Jones 6-0, 208 TCU Rookie Drafted for sole purpose of excelling on special teams

Specialists2 David Akers 5-10, 200 Louisville 13th yr. Takes over spot Joe Nedney held for six years4 Andy Lee 6-2, 180 Pittsburgh 8th yr. Has navigated Candlestick winds to two Pro Bowls86 Brian Jennings 6-5, 242 Arizona State 12th yr. Longest-tenured 49ers player. . . by four years

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

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USATSI

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

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AP

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.