Three things you need to know from 49ers' 20-10 loss vs Cardinals


Three things you need to know from 49ers' 20-10 loss vs Cardinals

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 20-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 9 on Sunday:

The 49ers may envision Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt as the team’s long-term starters at the safety positions. But in back-to-back weeks, Ward and Tartt sustained nearly identical season-ending injuries.

X-rays confirmed Tartt on Sunday sustained a fractured forearm. A week earlier, Ward sustained a fractured forearm. Ward was placed on injured reserve before the team’s Week 9 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Tartt is likely heading to the injured list, too.

Eric Reid, who was scheduled for free agency and faces an uncertain future, will have the final seven games to earn his way back on the team for 2018 and beyond. Rookie Adrian Colbert will also get plenty of experience as the 49ers play out the string.

The 49ers also are short-handed at wide receiver. Pierre Garçon on Saturday went on injured reserve with a fracture of a small bone in his neck. That injury should not impact his 2018 season, as the recovery is expected to take only eight weeks.

But, now, slot receiver Trent Taylor is likely to miss some time. He sustained a ribs injury – believed to be cracked ribs -- that could keep him out of action indefinitely.

Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard is showing plenty of toughness. But the 49ers would like it if he did not have to show this much toughness.

Beathard took a pounding on Sunday behind the 49ers’ makeshift offensive line that consisted of Trent Brown at left tackle and undrafted rookie Erik Magnuson at right tackle.

Beathard absorbed 16 quarterback hits, including five sacks. And late in the game, when Beathard broke out of the pocket on a scramble, Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea lowered the boom with a hit to Beathard’s neck and head area while the quarterback was in a feet-first slide.

Bethea’s hit warranted a penalty and also prompted a fight, during which Cardinals defensive players Frostee Rucker and Haason Reddick were ejected, along with 49ers running back Carlos Hyde.

General manager John Lynch appeared to like Hyde’s willingness to mix it up in defense of a teammate. Lynch enthusiastically slapped hands with Hyde after his ejection and shouted, “Good job!”

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo arrived in the Bay Area from New England on Tuesday. After three practices, he was in uniform and ready to enter Sunday’s game at a moment’s notice.

But Beathard made it through the game without being forced to exit. Therefore, Garoppolo was not called upon. It appears likely Garoppolo will remain as the backup at least through the bye week.

But Garoppolo said he felt good about his first week with the 49ers as he adjusts to a new offense and a new community.

“It was a bit of a whirlwind, but it’s starting to slow down, though,” Garoppolo said. “Everything, from a logistical side of life and football, is starting to slow down. So that’s nice.”

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals


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?


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.