49ers

Q&A with 49ers president Jed York

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Q&A with 49ers president Jed York

Players and coaches may be gone for the bye week, but there is still work being done. 49ers general manager Trent Baalke is away on a ten day scouting trip, and Jed York is currently focused on several community events.

The 49ers have partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank, and Wednesday, York helped kick off the annual Holiday food drive. I caught up with the team president and asked him a few questions about the team seven weeks into the season.

Mindi Bach: Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh were brought in to turn around this team. But did you expect the results theyve had just 6 games into the season?Jed York: I am not surprised with coach and Im not surprised with Trent being able to work well together and make sure they continue to make the team better. Thats what we talk about. Its coming to work every day and getting a little bit better each day. And I think thats what youre seeing with our team. Nobody is satisfied with where we are right now because we arent playing the best football that we can play. And thats what were trying to do, get better each and every day.
MB: Is there anything that you are able to take advantage of at this time and are working on given the bye week?JY: I think its good for the coaches and players to just get a little bit of time to sort of take a deep breath, relax, prepare for a short week in Baltimore thats coming up in a few weeks so they can get a little bit of extra preparation for that, but its really business as usual.MB: A lot of key players in this 5-1 record who are on one year contracts. Alex Smith, Dashon Goldson, Carlos Rogers; Ahmad Brooks is in final year of a 2 year deal When will you and Trent sit down and start addressing which of those players you will bring back?JY: Trent and Jim are talking about that now and will continue to assess that situation and figure out whos going to be a part of this moving forward. But were making sure were focusing on this year and just getting better one day at a time.MB: Do you expect some of those extensions to be done before the end of the regular season?
JY: You know there are guys that weve extended. Obviously Frank Gore is one of those guys that we extended, so its not out of the question. But thats something that Jim and Trent will discuss and figure out.
MB: The Bears and Bucs are playing in London this week. The NFL has agreed to play an annual game there for another five seasons. As your dad is the head of the leagues International Committee, will you request for the 49ers to return to play there in the near future? 49ers played the Broncos at Wembley Stadium last season.
JY: We had a great experience going to London. I wouldnt be surprised if we go back, but thats something that the league will work with all the different teams on, and obviously, its something that we enjoyed being over there and helped kick off a little bit of a mini winning streak last year. And I think thats a good thing for your team to be together like that in a different location. So I think its very good for the football operations to do things like that.
MB: But will you push for the 49ers to return to play in London?
JY: I think it depends on what Coach and Trent want to do and well have that discussion internally and figure out whats the best thing for the football team.
The 49ers are asking fans to please consider a donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank. There will be collection barrels at future home games, but a monetary donation is preferred. 1 buys two meals with the food the organization can buy in bulk. Last year Second Harvest fed 250,000 people.

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).