49ers

Three things you need to know from 49ers' first win of 2017 season

Three things you need to know from 49ers' first win of 2017 season

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 31-21 win over the New York Giants in Week 10 on Sunday:

1 YOUTH MOVEMENT
The 49ers broke their nine-game losing streak to open the season with many of their young players – on both sides of the ball – stepping up with huge contributions.

Quarterback C.J. Beathard had his best day as a pro – and, now, maybe it is not such a foregone conclusion that coach Kyle Shanahan will elevate Jimmy Garoppolo to the starting lineup after the bye week.

Some young players provided strong days on the defensive side, too. Reuben Foster led the team with 10 tackles; safety Adrian Colbert has looked like a natural as he patrols center field; and second-year player Ronald Blair injected some pass rush into a 49ers’ defense that has been inconsistent in getting after the quarterback.

“It’s the first of many,” Foster said of the victory. “This team is special. I’m really excited about this victory and how hard our team pushed. This team has a hell of a passion for the sport. No matter how much we lose, this team does not give up. That’s what I love about this team.”

With that youth comes a lot of enthusiasm. There was a large wet spot in the middle of the locker room, where Shanahan was doused with a water bucket to celebrate the victory.

2. EMBATTLED O-LINE WINS BATTLE
Center Daniel Kilgore said his position group was tired of hearing everyone talk about how crappy the 49ers’ offensive line has been this season. (Only, he did not use the word.)

The 49ers’ offensive line paved the way for the club’s second-highest scoring output of the season. Beathard was not sacked and he was hit just twice in 25 passing attempts. That’s a huge improvement over a week ago, when the Arizona Cardinals sacked Beathard five times and knocked him down 16 times.

“I feel like I barely got hit, barely even got touched,” Beathard said. “That’s a credit to everybody. The coaching staff; the play calling; the receivers getting open; the O-line blocking their tails off, and Carlos (Hyde) and tight ends doing their jobs in protections and then obviously getting the ball out. I think they did a great job of that.”

The 49ers did not fall behind, so they could stick with the running game from start to finish. The 49ers ran the ball 33 times and gained a season-high 186 yards on the ground. The 49ers kept drives alive with an impressive 67-percent conversion rate on third downs (8 of 12).

The run set up the pass. And vice versa. Running back Carlos Hyde led the way with 98 yards receiving on 17 rushing attempts. Rookie Matt Breida entered and enjoyed plenty of success, too. Breida gained 55 yards on nine carries, including a 33-yard touchdown run.

3. GEARING UP FOR FINAL STRETCH
The 2008 Detroit Lions do not have to worry about sharing their place in history with the 49ers. (But the Cleveland Browns are still in the hunt to be the only other winless team during a 16-game regular season.)

And the 49ers are guaranteed not to lose next week, either. That’s because they can now enjoy their bye week and rest their bodies after a particularly grueling stretch of games.

The team will report to the practice facility on Monday, but Shanahan will excuse the players for the remainder of the week to fuel up for the final six-week stretch of the regular season.

The 49ers head into the bye week on a high note after experiencing for the first time.

“When you lose nine in a row you learn to savor the moments and enjoy these,” Shanahan said. “It was tough work for us to get our first win and we got it. I think the guys knew how much it meant to me and I knew how much it meant to them. I think we’re a pretty close team and I think we’ve gotten closer through adversity.”

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.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

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USATSI

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.