49ers

49ers lack traditional short-yardage back, 'when it comes to a big bruiser...'

kyle-juice-40ers-red.jpg
USATSI

49ers lack traditional short-yardage back, 'when it comes to a big bruiser...'

The 49ers’ top two running backs are similar in size and style.

Jerick McKinnon (5-foot-9, 205 pounds) is the 49ers’ new top running back, as Kyle Shanahan pinpointed him in free agency as an upgrade over Carlos Hyde for his ability to make more plays on his own. Matt Breida (5-10, 190) remains as the No. 2 running back.

What the 49ers lack is a traditional bigger, short-yardage back. And Shanahan said he does not expect fullback Kyle Juszczyk to fill that role.

“Juice is a threat with the ball in his hands,” Shanahan said last week at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Florida, as discussed on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “But Juice isn’t a running back. You’re not going to put him back there and hand it to him when they know he’s getting the ball.”

Juszczyk is likely to be a bigger factor with the ball in his hands in 2018, as Shanahan looks to exploit favorable matchups. Last season, he caught 33 passes. Of his 315 receiving yards, 195 came over the final five weeks with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.

“When you get to third down, you look for matchups,” Shanahan said. “It’s not always the receivers on the outside. Sometime it’s the slot receiver. Sometimes it’s the running back running the same routes from the backfield that Trent Taylor runs from the slot or (tight end George) Kittle runs from just off the tackle. They’re all similar routes. It’s what’s your better matchup.”

Shanahan said the 49ers will look to add a bigger running back in the draft to join McKinnon, Breida, Joe Williams, Raheem Mostert and others.

“We’ll continue to look in the draft, and we’ll always look to add running backs,” Shanahan said. “When it comes to a big bruiser for the goal line, no one is just running over guys unblocked, either. You need to find open holes and be a good running back.”

49ers-Chiefs injury report: Reuben Foster, Malcolm Smith return

49ers-Chiefs injury report: Reuben Foster, Malcolm Smith return

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers, in essence, added two linebackers to the team Wednesday.

Reuben Foster returned to the practice field after serving a two-game suspension, and veteran Malcolm Smith was cleared to undergo a full practice for the first time since he sustained a hamstring injury in the 49ers’ Aug. 9 preseason opener.

Rookie middle linebacker Fred Warner played well in the first two weeks without Foster or Smith alongside him. It appears to be unlikely that Warner will lose his starting role.

And Foster almost assuredly will step back into the 49ers' lineup at weakside linebacker after serving his punishment for violations of the NFL’s policies on substances of abuse and personal conduct. The team released veteran guard Matt Tobin to make room on the 53-man roster for Foster.

Smith was the 49ers’ biggest defensive acquisition on the first day of free agency in 2017. But he missed all of last season with a torn pectoral sustained early in training camp. The 49ers still view him as a valuable asset because of his fit for the defensive system.

So, is it possible Warner, Foster and Smith all could see action together?

“We don’t have the plan, yet,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday. “We’ve got to see how they are, how they play. The plan is to do whatever we think gives us the best chance to win. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make a better guess at that decision these three days of practice.”

Mark Nzeocha took over as the 49ers’ starting strongside linebacker in the team’s base defense after a trade sent Eli Harold to the Detroit Lions.

“If I knew what way we were going to go this week, I wouldn’t tell you guys, but I do mean I don’t know, yet,” Shanahan said. “Rueben hasn’t been here in two weeks. Today is going to be Malcolm’s first day of full practice. So we want to see how all of those guys do, and it’ll be a tough decision at the end of the week, but a tough decision I’m going to be happy to have to make.”

Wednesday’s Practice Report

49ERS
Did not practice
G Joshua Garnett (toe)
T Joe Staley (not injury related -- vet day)
S Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder)

Limited practice
WR Marquise Goodwin (quadricep)
G Mike Person (foot)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (ankle)

CHIEFS
Did not practice
S Eric Berry (heel)
DE Chris Jones (groin)

Limited practice
LB Ben Niemann (hamstring)

Full participation
G Cameron Erving (knee)
CB Kendall Fuller (hand)
DE Jarvis Jenkins (elbow)
LB Reggie Ragland (shoulder, knee)

49ers' Marquise Goodwin noncommittal about his status for Chiefs game

goodwinvikingsinjuryap.jpg
AP

49ers' Marquise Goodwin noncommittal about his status for Chiefs game

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin was scheduled to return to limited practice Wednesday while still nursing a deep thigh bruise from a Week 1 collision with Jaleel Jackson, the Minnesota Vikings’ 316-pound defensive tackle.

Goodwin made no promises about his availability for the 49ers' Sunday game against the Kansas City Chiefs after being inactive in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions.

“I’ll just take it a day at a time and see where it goes,” Goodwin said.

“It’s the nature of this game. You go through a lot of stuff, you go through a lot of things throughout the season. You just have to roll with the punches.”

If Goodwin is healthy enough to play, two of the fastest players in the NFL could be on the field Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill is a speedster who ran an unofficial 4.24 seconds in his pro day before the 2016 draft.

Goodwin ran an official time of 4.27 seconds at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, which uses electronic timing and produces a slower time than handheld stopwatches.

Goodwin on Wednesday was asked to compare the speed of the two players.

“Me to Tyreek?” Goodwin asked. “I don’t compare myself to anybody, but I mean . . . “

At that point, Goodwin rolled up the sleeve on his left arm to show a tattoo of the Olympic rings. He won the U.S. Olympic Trials and competed in the 2012 London Games in the long jump.

“I ain’t sayin’ nothing,” Goodwin said, smiling. “You take that wherever you want to take it.”