49ers

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 33-10 loss to Eagles

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Three things you need to know from 49ers' 33-10 loss to Eagles

PHILADELPHIA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 33-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8 on Sunday:

1. INJURIES PILE UP
Free safety Jimmie Ward is likely out for the remainder of the season with a fractured forearm. And left tackle Joe Staley was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation of an injury to the orbital bone after leaving the game with an eye injury.

First-round draft pick Solomon Thomas sustained a knee injury. The initial diagnosis was an injury to his medial-collateral, which is good news. The injury could keep him out of action, but it is not likely to end his rookie season.

The 49ers were not a deep team to begin the season. It was going to be difficult for them to win games at full strength. Now, the 49ers enter their two most winnable games – at home against Arizona and the New York Giants – with a patchwork team on both sides of the ball.

“It’s just the cards we were dealt,” 49ers receiver Pierre Garçon said. “We can’t use it as an excuse. We just have to keep playing, regardless of who’s in there.”

Right tackle Trent Brown was out with a concussion. Backup Garry Gilliam sustained a knee injury. The 49ers ended up with rookie Erik Magnuson at right tackle and veteran guard Zane Beadles at left tackle.

The losses are one thing. The injuries are something else. Coach Kyle Shanahan has a difficult task ahead of him to attempt to keep things together for the second half of the season.

The 2017 edition of the 49ers on Sunday became the first club in franchise history to open the season with eight consecutive losses.

2. BEATHARD HAD LITTLE CHANCE
It would have been plenty difficult for rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard to succeed if the 49ers were at full strength. But combine the injuries to the offensive line and going up against the best team in the league, and Beathard had no chance at all.

“C.J. was battling,” Shanahan said. “He was in some tough situations. By no means was he perfect and there were some plays he missed, but that was a tough game to him in. He never shied away from anything and played extremely tough. But we just have to work on getting better – both him and everyone around him.”

Beathard was under constant pressure. He was sacked four times for 23 yards. The Eagles recorded 12 hits on Beathard, who scrambled six times for 40 yards rushing to lead the 49ers’ non-existent ground game.

Beathard and running back Carlos Hyde had particular difficulty hooking up. Beathard targeted Hyde on nine pass attempts. A couple of his tosses were behind Hyde, who failed to hold onto the ball. Hyde ended up with four receptions for 22 yards on what should have been high-percentage throws.

3. CHANGING FACE OF THE DEFENSE
The 49ers’ defense played about as well as anyone could have hoped on Sunday.

The Eagles managed just 304 yards of total offense, and quarterback Carson Wentz did not completely dice up a 49ers’ secondary that featured some new faces in key roles.

Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon found out on Tuesday that he would be starting in place of Rashard Robinson. Witherspoon was upbeat after the game, pointing to plays both good and bad from which he can learn and continue to grow.

Witherspoon recorded his first career interception in the second half. But on the next play, he said he misjudged Carson Wentz’s deep pass and gave up a 53-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery.

“I think he did well,” Shanahan said of Witherspoon. “I thought he competed. I know he gave up that go-route, which obviously wasn’t a good play. But he had a big turning point in that game and gave us a chance with that interception.”

Rookie safety Adrian Colbert, a seventh-round draft pick, played most of the game after Ward sustained his injury. The 49ers decided on Colbert over re-inserting Eric Reid at safety. Reid moved full-time to linebacker last week.

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

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Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

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An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.

The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)

There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”

Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.

“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.

“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”

For more on the potential negotiating strategies of both sides, listen here to the 49ers Insider Podcast.