49ers

Shanahan: 'Not much of a difference between' Hyde, Breida

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USATI

Shanahan: 'Not much of a difference between' Hyde, Breida

SANTA CLARA – Carlos Hyde might be the No. 7-ranked rusher in the league, but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan considers him an equal to rookie backup Matt Breida.

Hyde was the featured back for the 49ers’ first four games of the season, but Breida made his mark last week against the Indianapolis Colts. Breida played more snaps and had more rushing attempts than Hyde.

“We’re still going to keep them fresh because there’s not much of a difference between the two, for me,” Shanahan said on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.

“I know they have different styles. But similar to Atlanta, whether it’s Devonta Freeman for Tevin Coleman, it didn’t matter much. There are some things that one does better than the other, and vice versa. But when you have two guys, it’s a good problem to have. You go with the hot hand but you also try to play both of them and keep them fresh.”

Breida was the hot hand against the Colts. While Hyde was struggling to find room to run, gaining just 11 yards on eight attempts, Breida appeared to be on the brink of busting a long one. He gained 49 yards on 10 rushing attempts.

“Getting that experience, as a rookie being able to play that much, it was an awesome experience,” Breida said. “And I’m just happy they had the confidence in me to go out there and do that.

“As a game went on, I felt the game slowed down for me and I was able to recognize things a lot more and get more in control of the game.”

Hyde had been in control in the 49ers' backfield up to that point. On the season, Hyde has rushed for 332 yards and two touchdowns on 73 attempts. Breida has 120 yards rushing on 30 carries.

Shanahan said he takes a lot into account when determining which back will get the bulk of the playing time. It starts during that week of practice to see which player is meshing better with the game plan. Then, he observes how the game is unfolding.

Against Indianapolis, Breida’s speed to get to the outside and hit the holes quickly was a better counter to the Colts’ large defensive line. On Sunday, the 49ers will go up against a Washington defense that is stout in the front seven.

Former 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has designed a defense that ranks 10th in the NFL against the run. One of his top assistants is defensive line coach, Jim Tomsula, who served in that capacity for many seasons with the 49ers before replacing Jim Harbaugh as head coach.

“Those are two coaches I have a lot of respect for,” Shanahan said. “I’ve played against them a bunch. And you can see them putting their imprint on the defense. Their front is tough to go against. They play a hard 3-4. They got a bunch of big guys up front.

“They’re pretty talented up front. They set the edge. Those guys inside don’t move much, and they keep everything condensed. They make you work for everything. You got to grind it out against them.”

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

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AP

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

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USATSI

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.