Ahkello Witherspoon

49ers snap count: Rookies carry big load on defense

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AP

49ers snap count: Rookies carry big load on defense

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers had five defenders who played all 66 snaps on Sunday in the team’s 31-21 victory over the New York Giants.

Three of those players were rookies, who greatly contributed to the 49ers’ first victory of the season.

Linebacker Reuben Foster, a first-round pick, recorded 10 tackles, including four stops near the line of scrimmage, and allowed just 12 yards in coverage on three pass plays on which he was targeted, according to Pro Football Focus.

Safety Adrian Colbert, a seventh-round draft pick, has taken over as a starter after Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt sustained season-ending broken forearms. Colbert recorded four tackles and showed his range in the deep middle with two passes broken up.

And cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round pick making his third consecutive start since unseating Rashard Robinson, allowed just 24 yards receiving on the four pass plays on which he was targeted.

Also, second-year player Ronald Blair made his second appearance after coming off injured reserve following his recovery from thumb surgery, played 30 snaps and recorded two quarterback sacks, including a forced fumble. The takeaway led to a 49ers touchdown in the second quarter.

On offense, the 49ers compensated for the losses of wide receivers Pierre Garçon and Trent Taylor with a four-player combination that featured Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, rookie Kendrick Bourne and veteran Louis Murphy, who played 27 snaps just days after being signed off the street.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

OFFENSE
(61 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 61
Running back – Carlos Hyde 46, Kyle Juszczyk 38, Matt Breida 17
Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 48, Aldrick Robinson 31, Kendrick Bourne 29, Louis Murphy 27, Victor Bolden 1
Tight end – Garrett Celek 56, Logan Paulsen 12
Offensive line – Joe Staley 61, Daniel Kilgore 61, Laken Tomlinson 61, Trent Brown 61, Brandon Fusco 61

DEFENSE
(66 plays)
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 52, Leger Douzable 38, Elvis Dumervil 37, Ronald Blair 30, Earl Mitchell 25, Datone Jones 16, D.J. Jones 14, Tony McDaniel 12
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 66, Brock Coyle 60, Eli Harold 37, Dekoda Watson 21
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 66, Ahkello Witherspoon 66, K’Waun Williams 44, Leon Hall 10
Safety – Eric Reid 66, Adrian Colbert 66

SPECIAL TEAMS
(24 plays)
Watson 19, Mark Nzeocha 15, Bolden 15, Antoine Exum 14, Dexter McCoil 14, Ray-Ray Armstrong 14, Bradley Pinion 12, Greg Mabin 11, Breida 10, Blair 8, Johnson 8, Paulsen 8, Raheem Mostert 7, Witherspoon 7, Colbert 7, Harold 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Celek 6, Hall 6, Robbie Gould 5, Zane Beadles 5, Erik Magnuson 5, Staley 5, Kilgore 5, Tomlinson 5, Brown 5, Coyle 5, D.J. Jones 5, Da.Jones 4, Buckner 4, Douzable 4, Reid 4, Bourne 3, Mitchell 3, Hyde 1, Juszczyk 1, Murphy 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB Jimmy Garoppolo

INACTIVE
LB Elijah Lee (knee)
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OT Darrell Williams
WR Trent Taylor (ribs)
TE George Kittle (ankle)
DT Solomon Thomas (knee)

49ers rookie Ahkello Witherspoon's football passion burns at an all-time high

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USATSI

49ers rookie Ahkello Witherspoon's football passion burns at an all-time high

SANTA CLARA – Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was an ecology and evolutionary biology major at Colorado who has plans to become a surgeon after his NFL career concludes.

That revelation alone might have scared off some teams after growing concerns over long-term injuries associated with playing the sport and a spate of early NFL retirements in recent years.

But midway through his rookie season, Witherspoon said during a wide-ranging interview on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” that his passion and determination to have a successful career have only increased since entering the NFL draft.

“I’m even more excited to build a career in this league,” said Witherspoon, 22, a third-round pick of the 49ers. “I thought I knew what it was and I was excited coming in. But then getting a taste of it and being in it, it’s even more inspiring and it makes me want to work even harder.

“In terms of the violence and what could go wrong, I just live with faith in God and fear is second. If something happens, it was meant to happen. I could die walking out of this building right now. That’s kind of the mindset I have. You can control what you can control. It’s as simple as that, and that’s the approach I take.”

Witherspoon’s regular season got off to a rocky start. After being inactive for the 49ers’ first four games of the season behind starting cornerbacks Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson, Witherspoon made his NFL debut Oct. 8 against the Indianapolis Colts.

He played six snaps before exiting the game and being diagnosed with a concussion. Witherspoon, who first played football as a senior at Christian Brothers High in Sacramento, had two concussions in his past, he said.

“It’s part of the game,” he said. “If it happens, it’s unfortunate. You just want to come back healthy and keep playing.”

Witherspoon has taken over a starting job in the 49ers’ defense. His emergence also enabled the 49ers to trade inconsistent Robinson to the New York Jets for a fifth-round draft pick.

Witherspoon is learning how to apply his intelligence to optimize his success on the football field. Smarts can only carry him so far, and then he has to learn how and when to clear his mind and just play the game.

“I feel like I’ve found that balance where pre-snap, you want to see things, analyze, understand what could come and what could happen,” Witherspoon said. “But once that ball is snapped, you just got to react and respond to what the receiver is doing. And that’s one thing I’ve definitely improved upon.”

49ers snap count: Witherspoon becomes full-time player

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USATI

49ers snap count: Witherspoon becomes full-time player

Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon moved into a full-time role Sunday to replace struggling Rashard Robinson.

Witherspoon played all but one of the 49ers’ 70 defensive snaps in the team’s 33-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The receivers Witherspoon was assigned to cover were targeted eight times and produced three catches for 66 yards, including Alshon Jeffery’s 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter, according to Pro Football Focus.

Witherspoon recorded his first interception earlier in the game to set up the 49ers’ only touchdown.

Rookie offensive lineman Erik Magnuson, who had never even practiced at tackle, was active for the first time and played 41 snaps at right tackle. Magnuson’s services were required after injuries to tackles Joe Staley and Garry Gilliam. Starting right tackle Trent Brown was inactive due to a concussion.

Staley remained in Philadelphia overnight after sustaining a fracture to the orbital bone of his right eye. He will not require surgery. There was no damage to Staley’s eye, he told reporters at the airport early Monday morning. He arrived back in the Bay Area at noon.

Staley was injured on a block from Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox after an interception. The all-22 view of the play appears to show Cox using his hands to deliver a blow to Staley at helmet level, according to a source who has watched the video.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

OFFENSE
(66 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 66
Running back – Carlos Hyde 45, Matt Breida 21, Kyle Juszczyk 20
Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 43, Trent Taylor 39, Pierre Garçon 32, Aldrick Robinson 30, Kendrick Bourne 24
Tight end – George Kittle 41, Garrett Celek 26, Cole Hikutini 9
Offensive line – Laken Tomlinson 66, Daniel Kilgore 66, Brandon Fusco 66, Zane Beadles 51, Erik Magnuson 41, Joe Staley 25, Garry Gilliam 15

DEFENSE
(70 plays)
Defensive line – Leger Douzable 57, DeForest Buckner 55, Earl Mitchell 51, Solomon Thomas 32, Datone Jones 28, Elvis Dumervil 15, Tony McDaniels 15, D.J. Jones 8
Linebacker – Brock Coyle 70, Eli Harold 46, Ray-Ray Armstrong 36, Eric Reid 33, Dekoda Watson 12, Mark Nzeocha 1
Cornerback – Ahkello Witherspoon 69, Dontae Johnson 53, Leon Hall 33, Rashard Robinson 16
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 70, Adrian Colbert 55, Jimmie Ward 15

SPECIAL TEAMS
(32 plays)
Elijah Lee 29, Raheem Mostert 24, Watson 24, Breida 23, Celek 23, Colbert 20, Harold 16, Hikutini 16, Nzeocha 16, Armstrong 15, Bradley Pinion 14, Kyle Nelson 11, Johnson 11, Witherspoon 11, Tartt 10, R.Robinson 9, Buckner 8, Douzable 8, Juszczyk 8, Da.Jones 7, Taylor 6, Coyle 5, Mitchell 5, A.Robinson 5, Bourne 4, Robbie Gould 3, Tomlinson 3, Kilgore 3, Fusco 3, Beadles 3, D.J. Jones 2, Thomas 2, Kittle 1, Ward 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB Brian Hoyer

INACTIVE
WR Victor Bolden
DB K’Waun Williams (quadriceps)
DB Dexter McCoil
LB Pita Taumoepenu
LB Reuben Foster (ribs)
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OT Trent Brown (concussion)