49ers

Walker: 'I'm a 49er now and I want to be a 49er'

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Walker: 'I'm a 49er now and I want to be a 49er'

In their 13-6 win over Seattle, the 49ers got away from the WildKaep and instead returned to a more familiar formation for offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the multiple tight end set. Vernon Davis played every offensive snap. Delanie Walker was on the field for 40 snaps or 69 of the offensive plays. Its the most Walkers played in a game this season. He also scored his first touchdown of the season, and his first since he grabbed the game winner at Detroit last October.

In 2006, the 49ers drafted Vernon Davis with the sixth overall pick. They selected Walker in the sixth round, and the two have complemented each other ever since. Davis was supposed to be the target on the 12-yard score against the Seahawks. Instead, he threw a needed block and Walker was the one who was open.

Davis is signed through the 2015 season. Walker will become a free agent at the end of the year. Every week I highlight a player for our weekly program, 49ers Central. I thought this week was as good a time as any to check in with Walker. My questions have been shortened for convenience, but his answers are word for word.

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MINDI -- Against Seattle, what was it about that game plan that fit you so well?
DW -- Im not sure. When we figure something out and it works, we try to run with it. I think the two tight end set was working just fine against them. Actually, it was the heavy package where we go U Will Tukuafu, we keep Bruce Miller in the game also and it was working so we stuck with it.

MINDI -- How has your role evolved? What are you doing this year that you werent last year?
DW -- Im doing the same that I was doing last year. I think Im getting better as a blocker so they tend to use me as the fullback a lot too this year, lead blocking. But Im doing everything I was doing last year just added a few more roles.

MINDI -- When you come into a season do you set goals for yourself? How do you approach a season?

DW -- You always set goals for yourself, individual goals. I set goals to get better every year, become a better blocker, a better receiver. I feel like Ive accomplished those goals right now.

MINDI -- How do you quantify that? What makes you a better blocker? What are you looking for in yourself?
DW -- Just finishing. Not letting my man make the play or getting his hand on it, always showing up on film as having my man controlled and basically just blocking him and not letting him beat me.

MINDI -- I know youre a car aficionado, especially of old American muscle. If you had to describe yourself in car terms what kind of car would you be?

DW -- American muscle most definitely, so Ill be probably a 57 Chevy something that in the 50s that everybody had. It was durable, it always worked and you knew you could count on it.

MINDI -- Youll be a free agent at the end of the season. I know you cant think about that, but how do you approach a season when that is out there?

DW -- I just do me. A lot of people talk about me staying here and get the deal done but Im not really worried about that as we play because we got a long season. Im a 49er now, and I want to be a 49er but we never know whats going to happen so I just try to stay focused on getting my job done job week by week and always showing up to play.

MINDI -- You play on special teams as well. What is your role on special teams? I have to admit I dont know much about it.

DW -- (laughing) Its funny, you know everybody thinks Im on special teams, but Im only on one unit, and I get that a lot, like, Man, you killed on special teams. But Im sorry fans out there, I only play on kick off and my role out there, Im like the hype man really. I just dance and get crazy when Tony Montana comes on and I just try to go down there and bust some heads.

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

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USATSI

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

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AP

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.