Smith blames self -- not line -- for punishment


Smith blames self -- not line -- for punishment


HOUSTON -- OK, so maybe 49ers quarterback Alex Smith isn't an expert in the offense, after all.Smith was sacked twice and took a couple other hits in his 21-play outing Saturday night. And he blamed nobody but himself for the punishment.
"Most of it was self-inflicted by me," Smith said following the 49ers' 20-6 loss to the Houston Texans. "The O-Line played good. First play was a miscommunication with me and the other 10 guys in the huddle, and that resulted in a hit."Really felt like the offensive line played great."So how did the miscommunication occur?"It's tough to explain. Stupidity," Smith said. "I got things mixed up in my head a little bit."On Thursday, coach Jim Harbaugh declared Smith had already reached exalted "expert" status in the offensive system after just one full year. Smith completed 5 of 9 passes for 49 yards on Saturday.Smith played two possessions. David Akers booted a 50-yard field goal to cap Smith's first drive. The 49ers moved the ball 53 yards on 13 plays on their next drive. Anthony Dixon was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 to end Smith's night.
Colin Kaepernick entered after Smith and immediately led the team down the field with a no-huddle approach. On the second play, Kaepernick kept the ball for a 12-yard gain. The seven-play, 40-yard drive ended with Akers' 36-yard field goal."I feel comfortable with everything we do," Kaepernick said. "That's something they've asked me to do the last couple of weeks. It's similar to what I did in college, so obviously I'm going to be comfortable with that."Kaepernick completed 4 of 8 passes for 19 yards, and dearly wanted one of his decisions back."There's one throw I wish I'd had back," Kaepernick said. "The hitch route to the right. I wish I would've thrown away from the rotation. But I think I was going the right place with the ball. It was just making the throws."Kaepernick's pass intended for Ted Ginn was nearly intercepted by safety Quintin Demps. Randy Moss was all alone on the other side.On the next play, Kaepernick threw a nice back-shoulder ball to Moss that skidded through Moss' hands for an incompletion.Josh Johnson completed 4 of 6 passes for 64 yards, but misfired on a deep pass to a wide-open A.J. Jenkins. Scott Tolzien completed 4 of 9 attempts for 23 yards.

Reuben Foster ready for leadership role with 49ers


Reuben Foster ready for leadership role with 49ers

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ pass coverage from their linebackers has been a disaster this season.

But help is on the way, as rookie Reuben Foster is expected to return to action Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys after sustaining a high right ankle sprain just 11 plays into the season opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 10.

“He’s been battling to get back,” 49ers Kyle Shanahan said on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.

“He’s been hitting the rehab hard. We’ve had him out here for two weeks of practice, and I think he had his best week of practice. This week was much better than last week. I’m excited to get him out there.”

Last week, the 49ers cut veteran NaVorro Bowman, leaving Ray-Ray Armstrong and Brock Coyle as the starting inside linebackers. They were overmatched in the 49ers' 26-24 loss at Washington.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins looked no further than his running backs in the passing game, as Chris Thompson caught four passes for 105 yards and Samaje Perine had three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers expect Foster to provide an immediate upgrade with no expectations of perfection.

“It’s going to be his first time playing in a while,” Shanahan said. “I know there are going to be some bumps in the road. But I think he’ll have a big impact on our defense and our team overall.”

Foster will take over at Bowman’s middle linebacker position and be responsible for communicating the play calls and adjustments to the rest of the defense. Shanahan said Foster is ready to handle the important role.

“That’s the one thing that’s been the most impressive about him,” Shanahan said. “Everyone can see stuff on tape that’s impressive. But we didn’t know how much command he’d have until he got here. And from the first day of OTAs through training camp -- even walk-throughs when he was hurt -- when he gets in there, he speaks that language. He takes control and people listen to him.”

Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions


Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions

SANTA CLARA – While rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard is taking a micro view of his promotion, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is not shy about admitting he is looking at the big picture.

Shanahan said how Beathard performs after replacing Brian Hoyer as starting quarterback will have “a ton” of influence on how the 49ers proceed during the offseason.

After all, the 49ers know every position will come under tremendous scrutiny as the organization looks to add the pieces that will make the club competitive.

“That’s for every position. That’s for every player on our team. That’s for every coach on our team,” Shanahan said. “We’re 0-6, and that’s extremely tough. But I’m extremely excited about this place and excited about where we’re at and where we’re going. There’s not a moment that I don’t waste thinking about that stuff.”

Beathard will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.

Hoyer failed in his bid to earn consideration as the 49ers’ quarterback for the remainder of this season and beyond during his six starts. Hoyer completed just 58 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 74.1.

Now, Beathard gets his chance. But he said he is not thinking about the big picture and what it might mean for the future.

“I’m really just trying to take it one day, one week at a time,” Beathard said. “I’m not looking that far ahead. Right now, my focus is on today’s practice and geared towards beating the Cowboys and doing the best we can to get better and improve.”

Beathard was pressed into action last week when Hoyer’s struggles continued at Washngton. Beathard stepped in and completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For the first time, Beathard is getting the first-team practice snaps with a game plan that is designed specifically for him.

Said Beathard, “Getting those extra reps, reps with guys that you don’t usually throw to, in the huddle with the guys that are out there, I think it’ll help a lot.”