49ers

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 23-3 Week 1 loss vs Panthers

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 23-3 Week 1 loss vs Panthers

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the opening week of the regular season on Sunday at Levi's Stadium:

1. The kid is all right
Things did not look good when 49ers rookie linebacker Reuben Foster went down in obvious pain with a right leg injury during the first quarter.

Foster is a dynamic player. He might already be the best player on the team. And the 49ers' defense got off to a good start with Foster flashing his sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability.

Foster’s injury was reason for massive concern, as it prompted the 49ers’ medical staff to bring a cart onto the field to take him back to the locker room for further observation. Thankfully for the 49ers, X-rays were negative. Although Foster was finished for the day, he still walked back to the sideline and stood to watch the remainder of the game.

The early indications are that Foster’s injury could keep him out a week or two, but a long-term injury was avoided. Foster promised, "I'll be back soon. Very, very, very soon."

2. Help is on the way
The 49ers knew they needed help at the guard positions. On the day of the 49ers’ final exhibition game, general manager John Lynch completed a trade to acquire former first-round draft pick Laken Tomlinson from the Detroit Lions.

Left guard Zane Beadles has really struggled, beginning in training camp. On Sunday, he surrendered a sack-fumble against Panthers defensive lineman Wes Horton in the first half that led to Carolina's first touchdown. Let’s not put too much blame on Beadles, but it certainly looks as if it’s only a matter of time before Tomlinson replaces him.

Running back Carlos Hyde did OK with 45 yards on nine carries, but they fell behind by so much that they had to abandon the run game in the second half. The 49ers gave up four sacks and at least eight quarterback hits. And of all the places where the 49ers had issues on Sunday, the spot where they might have a more talented player currently behind a starter is at left guard.

3. It’s going to take time
Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system is proven, but it also might be too complex to expect this collection of players to get it mastered so early in his tenure. The 49ers had pre-snap penalties, issues with the play clock and more than a few physical errors, too.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer was largely accurate, completing 24 of 35 pass attempts (68.6 percent). Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin should have caught Hoyer’s first deep ball, which almost assuredly would have led to the 49ers taking a first-quarter lead. Other times, Hoyer seemed to hold the ball too long when passes should have come out sooner.

Hoyer’s third-quarter interception -- a play that basically eliminated the possibility of a 49ers comeback -- was a matter of a demanding play call coupled with Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly doing an outstanding job of baiting the quarterback. Hoyer turned his back entirely to the defense to sell a play fake. Kuechly had diagnosed exactly what was happening and got into position for the pick while Hoyer was not looking down the field. Kuechly stepped in front of 49ers tight end George Kittle for the interception.

Let's make one thing clear about the 49ers' quarterback situation: There is a significant gap between Hoyer and rookie backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, so there’s no reason to even be thinking along those lines at this point.

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

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USATSI/AP

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

LeBron James is an avid football fan. He's now an even bigger Colin Kaepernick fan than the sport. Following the Cavaliers' practice on Sunday, James opened up on Kaepernick and his absence from the NFL. 

"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James said to ESPN. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature."

James believes the masses don't truly understand what Kaepernick was doing when he first took a knee as a protest against social and racial injustices in America. For his actions, James respects Kaepernick choosing his beliefs over his sport.

"When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong," James said. "For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."

Add James to the list of those who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee last season. The more games he watches, the more James sees the evidence on the wall. 

"I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that," James believes. "Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that."

Kaepernick, who recently turned 30 years old, appeared in 12 games for the 49ers in the 2016-17 season. Through the air he completed 59.2 percent of his passes and ended the year with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaepernick also added 468 yards and two more scores on the ground. 

"The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

For his career, Kaepernick has thrown for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns to 30 interceptions. With his speed as a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has also gained 2,300 yards rushing and 13 more touchdowns. 

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.