49ers

Manning takes pride in consecutive starts streak

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Manning takes pride in consecutive starts streak

Eli Manning has started 128 consecutive games, including the playoffs, so his inability to finish practice on Wednesday due to a "stomach bug" raised more than a few eyebrows in anticipation of Sunday's NFC title game.Two days later, though, the New York Giants' quarterback is "100 percent" and ready to face the 49ers in start No. 129 with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.So how does he account for not missing games in the brutal word of professional football?

"I haven't thought a whole lot about it," Manning told reporters on Friday in East Rutherford, N.J. "I think it's one of those deals. I try to work hard during the offseason and my training, continuing to work hard during the season. If there are things that are preventable, you try to stay away from those things. And that's muscle strains and just trying to stay healthy, heal up from hits, things like that. A lot of it is in your preparation also, understanding when blitzes are coming, when you're protected, when you're not protected, so you're not just taking hits that you don't have to. Some of it is definitely luck."You never know when someone hits you the wrong way or you fall a little differently. Just try to do everything you can with eating right, getting sleep, your workouts, your conditioning, everything that you can control and (hope) for the best."Counting the playoffs, Manning has started 127 of the 132 games in which he's played since being the No. 1 pick of the 2004 NFL draft by San Diego out of Mississippi. His rights were then traded to the Giants.Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the Giants have "always" asked a lot of Manning."Since the day he got here," Coughlin said. "He has been able to handle it and he has proven to us that he could. Anything that we felt we needed to put us in a position to play well or win, we put it on his plate and he has done the extra work in the classroom to understand everything and he has gone on the field and been able to create the mental picture again."We have always given him a lot and he has always handled a lot and there is nothing different about that now."And while he was criticized for the petulant, Elway-esque act that forced the trade, Manning has taken a certain pride in not missing game time."I think as a quarterback, as a teammate, you want to show your teammates that you're going to be here, be competing, be there at practice every day, focused every day, ready to get better and competing every day at practice not walking through anything," he said. "You can have fun. There's times where you can smile and relax, but when you're out there and you're running a play, when you're doing your stuff with the team, you want everything to go perfect."I think you do practice how you play. I enjoy practice. You go to meetings, you go to practice, you put in everything you just talked about -- 'Let's go compete. Let's get better. Let's go learn things.' -- So I look forward to going out to practice every day and getting better and competing."

Inactives: 49ers LB Reuben Foster to play vs Cowboys

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Inactives: 49ers LB Reuben Foster to play vs Cowboys

After missing the last five games with a high right ankle sprain, rookie linebacker Reuben Foster is active for Sunday's game against the Cowboys.

Foster was injured just 11 plays into the season opener against the Panthers.

The 49ers have deemed these seven players inactive for the Week 7 showdown against Dallas:

WR Victor Bolden, DB Dexter McCoil, FB Kyle Juszczyk, LB Mark Nzeocha, LB Pita Taumoepena, DL Aaron Lynch and OL Erik Magnuson.

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

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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).