Swain bringing experience to upstart 49ers


Swain bringing experience to upstart 49ers

Hes appeared on the cover of surfing magazines and has played on the NFLs biggest stage. But for the most part, 49ers receiver Brett Swain flies under the radar.

Pretty neat guy. He comes in, hes down to business, down to earth, knows his stuff and always ready, said teammate Ted Ginn.

Swain came to the 49ers when Joshua Morgan went on injured reserve with a broken leg. The San Diego native beat out T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Chambers, Brian Finneran, Joe Hastings, and John Matthews for the roster spot.

Constant hustle is what we see from Brett, said offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Brett came in, obviously didnt have training camp with us, did a great job. We thought we worked out one of the best group of guys that I have been around during an in-season workout, and he won that workout really and earned his way on the team. He just hustles, hustles, hustles. Very much into precision with his routes, smooth. Hes got good hands. Hes got good quickness. Well be running the ball on right sideline, hell be on the left and hell always end up in the picture, so that jumps off the screen.

Swain appeared in all 20 games for the Super Bowl winning Packers last season, but has mostly remained inactive for the 49ers this season. Swain is one of only two players on the roster that has played in the Super Bowl and has experienced the mindset needed to make a run in the playoffs. So, I asked him about it.

Mindi Bach: The goal in the NFL is to get a Super Bowl ring. You are one of two people in this locker room to have that experience. What is this like for you as you see this team try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. What comes to mind for you?

Brett Swain: Well, first of all, you see the same tendencies in this team that you see in a Super Bowl team. I was with the Packers last year. We had a long run, a full season and we had our ups and downs. This season is a little different for me. Ive never been on a team thats been 9 and 2. Were having a great season. We hit a little bump in the road last week, so maybe that was good for us because now we can get back on track and get back on what we need to do to get back into the playoffs and win those games.

Bach: In your short career, is it strange to think you already have a Super Bowl ring and here you are with another team on its way to the playoffs?

Swain: Yea, for sure. It could be luck, it could not be. But I think a staff realizes what players fit good in good teams, and this is a good team. And I feel like when I came here to try out the coaches saw that Id be a good team player and thats what its all about to win Super Bowls - to have a great team, have great chemistry within the locker room and just overall be a great team going into the playoffs.

Bach: Greg Roman says what stood out about you, he was surprised how you out-hustled everybody else. Where did that drive come from?

Swain: Ive kind of had an up and down career myself. I was drafted in the seventh-round to the Packers. I went there, got cut my first year, had to practice squad-it, and luckily I was able to practice with guys that kind of went down the same road. Al Harris is a big guy. He was a defensive back for the Packers for a long time, really taught me how to practice and what it takes to be good in this league and also even try to make a team. He taught me how to practice, taught me how to work out, just taught me how to work and be a professional. And I feel like that was a good stepping-stone to my career. So having that background and then just having the guys that I came from with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, having a locker room like that pushes you. So when you come here you just kind of bring what youve learned in the past. I think that the experience I have is just working hard and being a professional.

Bach: Have any of the other receivers asked you about that Super Bowl Ring?

Swain: Not yet. I put the Super Bowl ring back in San Diego. I left that back at home. That was the biggest thing for us winning last year was, put it back in the box when the new season starts and leaving it back because there are new goals for the next season and you want to make that same goal and go get another one.

Bach: You are from San Diego, you played at San Diego State. What was your familiarity with Harbaugh before you came to this team?

Swain: He was at USD and I was at San Diego State.

Bach: You didnt play each other, though?

Swain: No, we didnt play each other. We were kind of cross-town rivals. We did little passing leagues in the offseason. I dont think we played them when Harbaugh was there, but as players we're always trying to push for that game. We thought it would be a great competitive game, especially with USD winning as many games as they did, to get a D-1, D-2 game going. We really wanted it as players it just didnt work out. We thought it was great to see another San Diego team winning. We werent winning at the same time so we we're kind of jealous a little bit. That is what we we're familiar with Harbaugh. And being from San Diego I watched him growing up. He was with the Chargers for a season, and actually that season I had season tickets. I was there every Sunday watching Harbaugh play and its good to be with a guy that kind of understands that.

Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?


Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?

After five consecutive close losses and some reason for optimism, it all came crashing down for the 49ers on Sunday.

Rookie Trent Taylor fumbled a punt just one minute into the game. Ninety seconds later, the Dallas Cowboys scored.

And it was over.

The Cowboys steamrolled the 49ers, 40-10, providing a slap across the face to anyone who believed this rebuild of the franchise was trending consistently upward without any complications.

The team appeared to be moving along harmoniously. But on Sunday, there was an incident in which Jaquiski Tartt, Ahkello Witherspoon and Ray-Ray Armstrong were seen jawing at each other. Things got heated. The optics in a home blowout loss were not good.

There are plenty of questions, and here are some of the questions from The Day After that were submitted on our Facebook page:

What is the philosophy? Are we trying to win or develop players? Cause it seems you can't do both? (Frank Vega)
The 49ers are definitely trying to develop players. They are also trying to evaluate players. They are looking to the future, and they are not deploying a win-at-all-cost approach this season. They do not want to win an extra game or two this season at the expense of possibly making the team worse for the future.

That is why the 49ers, almost invariably, went with younger players at any position in which there was competition . . . Eli Harold over Ahmad Brooks; Trent Taylor over Jeremy Kerley; Raheem Mostert over Tim Hightower; etc.

It’s why the 49ers made the decision two weeks ago to part ways with NaVorro Bowman, who had expressed dissatisfaction over his reduced role. Bowman was still the 49ers’ best linebacker at the time. But he would not have been on the team next year, so the decision was made to release Bowman now and go with the other less-accomplished players. (The Raiders, by the way, say 'Thank you.')

Rookie C.J. Beathard is now the starting quarterback. Cole Hikutini has moved into the No. 2 role at tight end behind fellow rookie George Kittle. Ahkello Witherspoon is being weaved into the action at cornerback, splitting time with Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson.

The 49ers did not want to create a mirage. They did not want to win any games this season that would be the result of a veteran rent-a-player approach. In that respect, the 49ers have succeeded. The 49ers will be picking near the top of every round in the 2018 draft.

The risk, of course, is that the young players get beaten down so badly that they lose their confidence and their edge.

What do you make of Eric Reid’s move to LB? Is his time with Niners nearing the end? (Peter Chan)
The 49ers no longer use a “nickel” defense. They go straight from their base defense to six defensive backs whenever the opposition puts more than two wide receivers on the field. It’s not a true linebacker position Reid is playing. It’s considered more of a “big nickel," designed to give the 49ers more speed on third downs to cover and run to the ball.

Reid is no longer a starter. What it shows is that the 49ers are sold on Jaquiski Tartt being a long-term answer for the 49ers secondary. The 49ers view Tartt and Jimmie Ward as the starters for 2018. All things being equal, Reid will have a chance to go somewhere else next season and be a starter.

The 49ers are not committed to re-signing him on a deal that extends beyond this season.

Is it a coincidence that the two worst teams in the NFL have the most cap space? (Gary Staebler)
That is no coincidence at all. It is the very reason the Cleveland Browns and 49ers are the only two winless teams in the NFL.

The Browns have $61.6 million in cap space. The 49ers are currently $61 million under the cap. Next year, with carryovers of unused space, the 49ers and Browns are projected to both have more than $117 million in cap room, according to Overthecap.com.

Bad teams do not draft well.

Teams that do not draft well, do not sign their draft picks to lucrative second contracts.

Therefore, teams that do not draft well cannot spend a large portion of their cap space to retain their own players because they have no good players worth retaining.

49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense


49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense

Veteran safety Eric Reid returned from a knee injury that kept him out three games to discover he lost his starting job.

Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt has continued to serve as an every-down player for the 49ers’ defense. On Sunday, Reid played 48 snaps (64 percent) as the 49ers employed six defensive backs against the Dallas Cowboys three-receiver sets.

The 49ers had to adjust their sub package after nickel back K’Waun Williams sustained a hip injury. Rookie Adrian Colbert entered the game at safety with Jimmie Ward taking over Williams’ role. Colbert played 29 snaps.

Newly signed defensive linemen Leger Douzable and Tony McDaniel saw a lot of action in their 49ers debuts. Douzable played the third-most of any defensive lineman (behind Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner), seeing action on 47 of the team’s 75 snaps. McDaniel played 25 snaps.

On offense, the 49ers appear to be making a point to go with younger players. Rookie Cole Hikutini played 21 snaps, taking over as the No. 2 tight end over Garrett Celek and Logan Paulsen.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, another undrafted rookie, played a season-high 23 snaps. On fourth-and-4 from the Dallas 28 early in the third quarter, coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal. Bourne was the intended target. But he stumbled after a spin move from the slot, and C.J. Beathard’s pass was incomplete.

“As I was throwing the ball he tripped,” Beathard said. “If he hadn’t tripped on a DB’s feet or whatever happened there, it would’ve been a big play.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

(66 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 66
Running back – Carlos Hyde 51, Matt Breida 15
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 46, Trent Taylor 46, Marquise Goodwin 39, Aldrick Robinson 30, Kendrick Bourne 23
Tight end – George Kittle 31, Cole Hikutini 21, Garrett Celek 18, Logan Paulsen 11
Offensive line – Joe Staley 66, Daniel Kilgore 66, Laken Tomlinson 66, Brandon Fusco 52, Trent Brown 45, Garry Gilliam 20, Zane Beadles 14

(75 plays)
Defensive line – Solomon Thomas 61, DeForest Buckner 50, Leger Douzable 47, Earl Mitchell 38, Xavier Cooper 26, D.J. Jones 25, Tony McDaniel 25, Elvis Dumervil 15
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 53, Eli Harold 31, Ray-Ray Armstrong 27, Brock Coyle 22, Dekoda Watson 9
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 63, Rashard Robinson 51, Ahkello Witherspoon 35, K’Waun Williams 20
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 75, Jimmie Ward 75, Eric Reid 48, Adrian Colbert 29

(24 plays)
Elijah Lee 21, Coyle 21, Raheem Mostert 16, Celek 15, Colbert 16, Witherspoon 15, Breida 14, Harold 12, Hikutini 12, Armstrong 10, Tartt 10, Bradley Pinion 9, Jones 8, R.Robinson 8, Ward 8, Johnson 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Buckner 6, Thomas 6, Paulsen 6, Reid 5, Mitchell 5, Douzable 4, A.Robinson 3, Taylor 3, Robbie Gould 2, Foster 2, Staley 2, Kilgore 2, Gilliam 2, Beadles 2, Tomlinson 1, Fusco 1, Brown 1, Dumervil 1, Watson 1, Williams 1

QB Brian Hoyer

WR Victor Bolden
DB Dexter McCoil
FB Kyle Juszczyk (back)
LB Mark Nzeocha
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OL Erik Magnuson