Williams could open season as 49ers' punt returner


Williams could open season as 49ers' punt returner

DENVER -- Kyle Williams might be back returning punts to open the 49ers' regular season.
Ted Ginn, the 49ers' top return man, hopped off the field and into the locker room Sunday with a right ankle sprain. Although X-rays were negative, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said, Ginn's status for the opener Sept. 9 at the Green Bay Packers is in question.Ginn handled one fair catch on Sunday. He sustained his ankle injury when he was tackled on an end-around. With Ginn unavailable, Williams took over the duties in the 49ers' 29-24 victory Sunday over the Denver Broncos.Williams averaged 10.0 yards on three punt returns in a strong all-around game for the third-year player."I don't know how bad it is or if he'll be all right," Williams said of Ginn. "But, once again, my comfort level is 100 percent back there. If I have to step in and take care of that, I'm more than prepared and ready to go."Williams is the 49ers' No. 2 punt returner. The last time he filled in for Ginn was in the NFC championship game when his two turnovers were costly miscues in the 49ers' overtime loss to the New York Giants.Ginn missed the final two regular-season games a year ago with a sprain to the same ankle. He sustained a knee injury against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs that kept him out of the NFC championship game.Williams' contributions Sunday were not just confined to punt returns. He also turned a short Colin Kaepernick pass into a 46-yard gain. Williams also hustled down on punt coverage as a gunner late in the game and got involved in the action."He's definitely one of the guys in the hard-working category," Harbaugh said. "It seemed like a full game. A lot of action for Kyle. (He's) playing very well. Good in the return game and good on offensive side of the ball."

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017


What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Bay Area sports teams and your favorite players have plenty to be thankful for this year. 

Check out how the teams and players are celebrating Thanksgiving in 2017.

Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season


Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season

SANTA CLARA – The two quarterbacks who finish this season with the 49ers are probably going to be the same two quarterbacks the organization carry on their 2018 roster.

So every decision coach Kyle Shanahan makes with C.J. Beathard and Jimmy Garoppolo is being made to consider what is best for those two players.

Shanahan made the expected announcement this week that Beathard will make his fifth consecutive start on Sunday when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.

Beathard is coming off his best game as a pro. He was a major contributor to the 49ers’ first victory of the season, throwing for 288 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for a score in a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants. His performance seemingly did enough to earn him another start.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo pulled up to 49ers headquarters on Oct. 31 with no prior knowledge of Shanahan’s offensive system. Even as a rookie, Beathard has five more months of experience in the 49ers’ offense than Garoppolo, a four-year professional who made just two starts during his time with the New England Patriots.

“We’ve had C.J. in there for some time,” Shanahan said. “He’s getting more used to it, and I’m getting more used to him. The players are getting more used to him around him. It’s been nice to add a few things each week for him.”

General manager John Lynch reiterated this week he considers Garoppolo the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Garoppolo is not under contract for next season. If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year extension, the club would be expected to designate him as their franchise player to retain him for the 2018 season.

Garoppolo is likely to get some playing time in the final six games of the season, but the 49ers have every reason to take their time in order to give him the best chance at success. On the first three days of the bye week, Garoppolo had a chance to go back to the beginning and learn the basics of the scheme in meetings with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and Shanahan.

Shanahan’s scheme is complex with unique verbiage and an abundance of adjustments that are required on any given play. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan took a step backward in his first season in Shanahan's scheme. The next year, Ryan was a runaway MVP winner with a career-high 38 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.

It took Ryan a full season of experience with Shanahan to fully grasp his responsibilities, so it is unreasonable to believe Garoppolo would be able to do much more than just function if he gets onto the field for extended action.

“Jimmy gets more and more ready each week,” Shanahan said. “Is Jimmy going to be the best he can? To me, that’s impossible. He just hasn’t been here long enough, and I think he’ll get an opportunity to be better each week.

“I don’t think we’re going to see Jimmy’s best football, to be fair to him, until next year because that’s what guys need. But C.J. did play his best football last week, which definitely, to me, made the decision easier.”