'Scary start' for 49ers defense against Broncos


'Scary start' for 49ers defense against Broncos

DENVER -- The 49ers' defense did not necessarily look like the 49ers' defense on Sunday.
All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman (knee) and outside linebacker Aldon Smith (hip) took part in warmups but did not suit up for the game. And third cornerback Chris Culliver (knee) did not make the trip.And the 49ers defenders who did take part did not exactly form a formidable obstacle for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Manning threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns to bury the 49ers, 17-0, in the first quarter.The 49ers' reserves scratched back against the Broncos' reserves for a 29-24 exhibition victory on Sunday."It is a concern, but I wouldn't be too concerned with it," 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks said. "We have some guys out right now in the preseason. If we can just game play for the offense, we will do better on the defensive side of the ball."It's been a scary start to this point."Manning threw two touchdown passes to Eric Decker. One of 10 yards (against the coverage of Carlos Rogers) and one of five yards (against Tramaine Brock). Brock struggled as the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback.The 49ers, as they've done this exhibition season, played a vanilla defense. In three games, the 49ers have yet to get a sack from a projected starter."There was some spotty play and we gave up some easy yardage and found ourselves, for whatever reason, not in good football position when it came time to make a tackle or a break-up," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "So, fundamental-type things that we need to look at."After leading the Broncos to 17 points in three series, Manning was removed from the game."The offense was excited to move the ball," Manning said. "I thought we had some rhythm. We huddled today, yet we still played at an up-tempo pace of getting in and out of the huddle."On the second play after Manning was removed, 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox, playing with the number two 49ers defense, intercepted backup quarterback Caleb Hanie.Cox played the 2010 season with the Broncos. The team released him a year ago as he faced charges of sexual assault. Shortly after Cox was acquitted, the 49ers signed him this offseason."It was great seeing the guys I used to play with," Cox said. "At the same time, I was really focused on football. The victory is what I wanted. Overall, it was a great trip. The players, my brothers, they're the same people I talk to on a day-to-day basis."Cox, seemingly, has surpassed Brock on the 49ers' depth chart. Culliver spent most of last season as the third cornerback behind starters Rogers and Tarell Brown. Cox missed last week's game at Houston with a hamstring strain.Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio recently said he expects to find a role for Cox.But when asked what role he envisions for himself, Cox could not even guess."I have no clue at all," he said. "My whole thought process is just to keep ballin'. I can only control what I can control. The rest is in my coaches' hands."

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

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.”

Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely


Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely

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.