49ers

49ers Mailbag: When will Beathard get his chance?

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USATSI

49ers Mailbag: When will Beathard get his chance?

The 49ers have a chance to break into the win column on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, whose only victory this season came against the winless Cleveland Browns.

The 49ers have proven to be competitive in their past three games, losing to Seattle, the L.A. Rams and Arizona by a combined eight points.

Of course, there are plenty of questions about the direction of the team for the remainder of the season and into 2018. Here are some of the questions that were left on our Facebook page:

If Hoyer continues to struggle, what are the chances of them going to Beathard or getting another QB? (Rick Orozco)
The last thing Kyle Shanahan wants to do at this stage in the season is make a change at quarterback. But if Brian Hoyer can’t get things together, Shanahan might not have any other option.

Still, unless Hoyer completely implodes, it is difficult to imagine that a change will be made in the near future.

It’s highly doubtful the 49ers would sign another quarterback unless there is an injury. If the 49ers need to bring in someone from the outside, that quarterback would likely be Matt Barkley. C.J. Beathard beat out Barkley for a spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster. Barkley has traveled around the league for some tryouts, but he remains unsigned.

Hoyer was the first to get a chance to prove that he can be the 49ers’ starter beyond this season. At this point, it seems obvious he is not the long-term answer. So why keep him as the starter?

The 49ers know their roster is not built to win right now. This season is all about setting up the organization for the future. It was paramount that the 49ers brought in a quarterback this season that fits the offensive system.

Hoyer knows the system. And he is the style of quarterback that Shanahan envisions for the 49ers into the future. Shanahan made the determination shortly after becoming head coach that Colin Kaepernick’s skillset was not a match for his offense.

All things being equal, yes, I think it’s obvious Kaepernick is a better player than Hoyer. But if the 49ers retained Kaepernick this season, Shanahan would have been forced to make major tweaks to his offense to take full advantage of Kaepernick’s style.

Hoyer underperformed in the 49ers’ first four games. While he does not appear to fit into the team’s long-term plans, he serves a valuable purpose of being a placeholder at the quarterback position while helping prepare the rest of the offense for the future.

After all, every player on offense is learning and training in a way that will help them in 2018 and beyond. If the 49ers had a quarterback who does not fit the system, then this would be a wasted year for every player on offense.

Do you think Hyde, Reid, Tank, & Lynch get extensions? (Brenton Beirne)
I don’t think all of those players will get extensions. And two players I’d like to throw in there are right tackle Trent Brown and center Daniel Kilgore.

Although the 49ers spent a fourth-round draft pick on running back Joe Williams, I think Hyde has made a convincing argument that he should be part of the 49ers’ future. He is a very good fit for the offense. He would be even more effective if the 49ers had a more dangerous passing game. If it were up to me, I’d put Hyde at the top of the list for a three-year contract extension.

Jaquiski Tartt could make Eric Reid expendable. If I were a betting man – at this stage in the season – I would wager that Tartt gets signed to a contract extension after the season. I could see the 49ers trying to lock up Tartt and Jimmie Ward to long-term contracts to play those critical roles in the team’s defense. I'm not sure Reid figures into the team's future.

I don’t know that Carradine or Lynch would be big priorities to re-sign. Carradine is a role player, a rotational player. There does not figure to be a spot for him in the starting lineup as long as Solomon Thomas remains healthy and continues to develop.

Signing Lynch to any kind of extension is a risk. I doubt the team would make any kind of large financial commitment to him.

Brown is an interesting case. He is eligible for a contract extension at the end of the season. The rumblings are that it will be difficult to sign him to a new deal because he has leverage of being attractive to multiple teams at left tackle. If he waits another year, he could break the bank in free agency.

The only way the 49ers can sign him to an extension is if they offer him left-tackle money. Also, as well as he is playing, there are questions about whether he can sustain his motivation and consistency. The challenge for Brown will be to continue to work at a high level once he signs a lucrative second contract.

The 49ers like Kilgore a lot. While he might not be considered a top-10 center, the feeling within the organization is that the team can win a lot of games with him in the middle of the line.

After four games, what do you think is the biggest 49ers position need? (Oscar Palacios-Flores)
I’m not going to give you just one position because this is a team that is in need of a lot of help to become a playoff contender.

Here's my rundown. . . 

Quarterback – The QB of the future is not on the team. The 49ers will look at the veteran market to land a player, such as Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo. If they do not acquire a veteran, they can use a high pick in the draft on the position.

Guard – Laken Tomlinson might be serviceable for the future, but the jury is still out. The 49ers will almost assuredly look to replace Brandon Fusco. The new regime does not seem sold on Joshua Garnett, who is ineligible to play this season after going on injured reserve after undergoing knee surgery.

Wide receiver – This receiving corps would look a whole lot better with a true No. 1 guy. Pierre Garçon is very good. He’s a starter, for sure. But the 49ers would be a lot better with Garçon as the No. 2 guy. Marquise Goodwin is better-suited to a third option.

Pass rusher – The 49ers have a solid defensive line, but they lack a dynamic edge rusher.

Inside linebacker – Help is on the way. Reuben Foster will be back either next week at Washington or the following game against Dallas. The key loss was Malcolm Smith, whose season ended with a pec injury. He is expected to make a full recovery for next season.

Cornerback – Perhaps, Ahkello Witherspoon can develop into a front-line starter. Perhaps, Rashard Robinson can do the same. Perhaps, perhaps. In any case, the 49ers need to increase the skill level at this position. The only thing they seem to know for sure is that K'Waun Williams, who signed a contract extension last week, is reliable as the nickel back.

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

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AP

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

When the 49ers selected inside linebacker Fred Warner of BYU in the third round of the draft, it was easy to see how he fit into the team's plan with the degree of uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster.

While Foster remained away from the team’s offseason program for five weeks, Warner felt a need to get up to speed quickly if he was needed to be a starter for Week 1 of the regular season. Warner said he was determined to learn as quickly as possible at whatever position he lined up.

“They want consistency over a guy who can make a play here and there,” Warner said on The 49ers insider Podcast. “Because if you’re a liability and you’re out there missing assignments, stuff like that, that’s going to get you cut. You have to be able to retain this information very quickly and be able to produce on the field and put a good product out there. That’s the biggest thing.”

The 49ers consider the middle linebacker (mike) and weakside linebacker (will) positions as nearly interchangeable. The major difference is the mike position is the player who communicates in the huddle. Malcolm Smith is lining up with the first team at mike, while Foster is at will. Warner is leading the second team at mike.

Foster joined the 49ers’ offseason for the final four weeks after a judge dismissed two felony charges of domestic violence. Warner knew all about Foster, the player, before meeting him as a teammate.

“He’s a very physical player, and something I didn’t know about him that I know now, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room,” Warner said. “This dude has the memory of an elephant. He doesn’t have to write notes down. He just retains things very quickly. And I think that’s what allowed him to play at such a high level as a rookie last year, aside from his physical talent.”

Warner has also learned a lot from Smith, who played six NFL seasons before sitting out last year with a torn pectoral.

“We’ve worked after practice on man coverage on tight ends and running backs.,” Warner said. “Even though that might not be something we touch on in practice or a meeting, he just wants to touch on that with me because he said, ‘If you can do this, you can play on any team in the NFL.’ “

One of the few critiques of the rookie during the offseason program is that Warner, who said he was a quiet kid as a youngster, has been a little too loud.

“He’s very smart and he plays like it on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during the first week of OTAs. “He doesn’t hesitate. He’s a rookie out there, but he’s calling the plays maybe even too loud because I can hear him from the offensive side. But, he doesn’t mind speaking up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”

Warner said he wanted to win the confidence of his teammates, so that might have contributed to his increased decibel level.

“I want to make sure that when I get in that huddle and I’m talking to these guys, that they know that I know what I’m doing and I’m ready to go,” Warner said. “I’m the one who’s going to set the tone in the huddle before the play even happens.”

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

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AP

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

Keith Fahnhorst, who played 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and started on two Super Bowl-winning teams, died on Tuesday. He was 66.

Fahnhorst was among a large group of players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl championship team that gathered at Levi’s Stadium in October in a celebration of Dwight Clark. Fahnhorst and Clark were teammates for the 49ers’ Super Bowl-titlle teams of 1981 and 1984. Clark passed away on June 6 from ALS.

Fahnhorst, who was in a wheelchair during his trip to the Bay Area last season, battled many physical ailments since his career ended in 1987. He was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and underwent a kidney transplant in 2002. Fahnhorst was also later diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

A second-round draft pick of the 49ers in 1974 from the University of Minnesota, Fahnhorst was a mainstay at right tackle as the organization struggled in the mid-to-late 1970s, then found success in the 1980s under coach Bill Walsh.

“Everybody knew they could count on Keith,” Walsh said in the 2005 book, “San Francisco 49ers: Where Have Gone?”

Fahnhorst appeared in 193 regular-season games, ranking behind only Len Rohde among offensive linemen in 49ers history. He started 170 games, including all 10 postseason games in which he appeared. He was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team and was selected as a first-team All-Pro after the 1984 season. He was a two-time winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for best representing the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the longtime 49ers offensive line coach.

Keith Fahnhorst and his younger brother, Jim, were 49ers teammates for the final four years of Keith’s career. Jim Fahnhorst, a linebacker, played for the 49ers from 1984 to 1990. Neither Keith nor Jim Fahnhorst played for any NFL team other than the 49ers.