49ers notes: Evaluating Reuben Foster-Fred Warner linebacker duo debut

49ers notes: Evaluating Reuben Foster-Fred Warner linebacker duo debut

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs took advantage of the 49ers’ eagerness at inside linebacker in the first half Sunday with some misdirection plays.

It was a rough opening game for the 49ers’ young linebacker duo of Reuben Foster and Fred Warner, but chalk it up to a learning experience in the 49ers’ 38-27 loss at Arrowhead Stadium.

Foster was encouraged with how he and Warner played together and seemed to improve as the team progressed.

“It went well,” Foster said. “It’s like me and Fred never missed a game together, like we’ve been playing together since high school or middle school. It felt amazing with him next to me, calling the plays out.”

The 49ers expect Warner and Foster to line up side-by-side for years to come. Foster was a first-round draft pick last year. He returned to action Sunday after serving a two-game suspension. Warner has started every game at middle linebacker since arriving this year as a third-round pick from BYU.

Veteran Malcolm Smith made his 49ers debut Sunday, and the natural inside linebacker lined up outside in the team’s base defense. Smith played 34 snaps, as Kansas City’s multi-receiver personnel groupings dictated the 49ers deploy their nickel defense for most of the game.

Warner registered a game-high 11 tackles, and Foster was credited with seven. Smith had one tackle and a quarterback hurry.

[RELATED: 49ers report card vs. Chiefs]

Questionable calls

The 49ers were flagged for 14 penalties totaling 147 yards, but some of the bigger calls came with plenty of questions about referee Tony Corrente’s crew.

On a third-and-16 from the 49ers’ 32-yard line, nickel back K’Waun Williams was called for pass interference in the end zone against Chris Conley on a Patrick Mahomes pass that did not appear catchable. Instead of a long field goal attempt, the Chiefs had a first down at the 1, and scored on the next play.

C.J. Beathard took one snap and found tight end George Kittle in the end zone for what appeared to be a 7-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. If the touchdown had stood, the 49ers would have trailed by a touchdown with five minutes remaining.

But fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who lined up as a wideout on the right side, was flagged for a pass interference when Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford stepped in front of him to cut off his in-breaking route. Kittle made the catch behind where Juszczyk and Ford came together.

“I was shocked, actually,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I thought we were going to get a call there, so I was real surprised our fullback got a call of pass interference.”

FOX analyst Dean Blandino, the former head of NFL officiating, even criticized the call on the TV broadcast.

"This is not a pick play," Blandino said. "This is a flag that really should not have been called."

Grounds for a comeback

The 49ers fell behind by four touchdowns before scoring 17 unanswered to get back in the game in the second half. The defense finally made some stops, but the offense got going because it did not give up on the run game.

“I think we just focused on the run,” Kittle said. “We didn’t say, ‘Hey, we have to air it out now because we’re losing by 28 points.’ “

Matt Breida led the 49ers with 90 yards on 10 carries, and Alfred Morris added 67 yards on 14 rushing attempts.

“Whenever you can run the ball, it opens up the passing game,” Kittle said.

Injury report

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s expected season-ending knee injury was the most serious, but it wasn't the only injury the 49ers sustained Sunday.

Safety Adrian Colbert appeared in 28 plays before leaving the game in the second quarter with a hip injury. Rookie D.J. Reed replaced Colbert and played the final 52 snaps of the game.

Cornerback Richard Sherman is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his left calf area. He left the game after playing 36 snaps. Ahkello Witherspoon, who has been battling an ankle injury, replaced him.

Cornerback Jimmy Ward left the game because of cramps. In the five snaps he missed, rookie Tarvarius Moore filled in.

Foster took a shot to the midsection and missed one play.

Breida appeared to hyperextend his knee, but he came back into the game and played well.

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas also was shaken up after colliding with teammate DeForest Buckner while hitting Mahomes. He left the game briefly.

Right guard Mike Person aggravated a foot injury and left the game for seven plays, replaced by Erik Magnuson.

This ‘n’ that

Antone Exum started at strong safety in place of Jaquiski Tartt, who was out with a shoulder injury. Exum recorded nine tackles, his first career sack and a forced fumble. . .

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead was credited with a sack when Mahomes ran out of bounds in the second quarter. It was Armstead’s first sack of the season and the seventh of his career. . .

Kicker Robbie Gould extended his own club-record streak with field goals of 39 and 35 yards, giving him 31 consecutive successful attempts. Gould has made at least one field goal in 23 consecutive games, dating to Dec. 11, 2016. However, Gould missed an extra-point try in the third quarter.


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NFL QB Power Rankings Week 7: Rodgers' heroics over 49ers puts him No. 1

NFL QB Power Rankings Week 7: Rodgers' heroics over 49ers puts him No. 1

Drew Brees took the week off, which means he left an opening for Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady to unseat him for the No. 1 spot.

And, boy, did Rodgers and Brady take advantage of Brees’ decision to observe the Saints’ NFL bye week.

Nobody ever said it was fair, but that’s the way things work over here when the stakes are large and the weekly NFL QB Power Rankings hang in the balance.

Here’s our Week 7 pecking order:

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: The sole arbiter saw the Chico Kid work his magic in person on Monday at Lambeau Field. It was something special (3)
2. Tom Brady, New England: The only pitcher who has more victories than Brady's 227 since 2001 is CC Sabathia with 256. (2)
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans: We’re pretty sure – but it’s unconfirmed – that he broke at least three more NFL records during the bye week. (Last week: 1)
4. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City: He stood toe-to-toe with Brady on a prime-time stage. An instant classic. (5)
5. Philip Rivers, L.A. Chargers: The Chargers avoided their usual disastrous start to the season. This could be a special season for the old man Rivers. (4)
6. Russell Wilson, Seattle: He had a great game, sure. But the degree of difficulty was not high. After all, it did come against the Raiders. (7)
7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta: Getting better and better each week. (8)
8. Jared Goff, L.A. Rams: Just a suggestion: Throw the ball deep against the 49ers on the first play of the game. Somebody will be left completely uncovered. (6)
9. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia: Picking up where he left off before his torn ACL last season. (13)
10. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota: He turned down a Jets offer of $90 million guaranteed over three years and then bragged about using them for leverage. Yeah, the Jets would like to leverage something against him this week. (9)
11. Matthew Stafford, Detroit: He lost to the 49ers, but he notched victories over Brady and Rodgers. Now, he needs to work on his consistency. (10)
12. Cam Newton, Carolina: Following the Panthers’ loss to Washington, Newton revealed a post-defeat change: “Ain’t no need to keep sobbing over it. My days of sobbing are over with.” (11)
13. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: The Steelers are back to where they should be, and Big Ben is the reason why. (15)
14. Alex Smith, Washington: Fans of the 49ers get nostalgic when they see him hook up for TDs with Vernon Davis. By the way, he needs just 32 passing yards to get past Steve Young for No. 35 on the all-time NFL list. (11)
15. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati: Not his best game, but his biggest problem was leaving old rival Roethlisberger too much time for the game-winning score. (14)
16. Deshaun Watson, Houston: With 28 career TD passes, he ranks behind only Kurt Warner for most ever through the first 13 games of a career. (16)
17. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago: OK, we are beginning to see whey the Bears spent so much to move up one spot to draft him. (21)
18. Dak Prescott, Dallas: It looks like he’s turning the corner. (22)
19. Joe Flacco, Baltimore: He’s doing a nice job of remaining awake on those plays he lines up at wide receiver with Lamar Jackson takes over to run the ball. (19)
20. DEREK CARR, RAIDERS: The good news: He did not throw any interceptions in London. But he did not do anything remotely positive, either. (18)
21. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis: There was a time not long ago when he was considered one of the best young players in the game. (20)
22. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay: If I have to watch that bit where he pretends to eat his own fingers to form a “W” one more time, I might eat my own fingers. (26)
23. Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants: All of a sudden, Ben McAdoo is not looking so wrong. (17)
24. Sam Darnold, N.Y. Jets: He’s well on his way. (27)
25. Ryan Tannehill, Miami: He did a really nice job of rooting for Brock Osweiler, who got a lot of help from Frank Gore en route to the exciting win over the Bears. (23)
26. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland: As you’d expect with any young quarterback, two steps forward, one step back. (24)
27. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville: The Jags saw enough last year to sign him to an extension. Just awful. (25)
28. C.J. BEATHARD, 49ERS: Aside from two fourth-quarter throws on Monday, he looked like a starting NFL quarterback. (30)
29. Case Keenum, Denver: Things are going downhill rapidly. (29)
30. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee: Any time you’re connected with Guido Merkens, it’s not a good thing. Mariota became the first QB since Merkens (Philadelphia) in 1987 to be sacked 10 or more times with 10 or fewer completions. How is that even possible? (28)
31. Josh Rosen, Arizona: His struggles would be less pronounced the more he gets the ball into the hands of Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. (31)
32. Nathan Peterman, Buffalo: Same spot as Josh Allen last week, only with a significantly weaker arm and more interceptions. (Allen, 32)

49ers notes: C.J. Beathard learns lessons in falling short of upset win

49ers notes: C.J. Beathard learns lessons in falling short of upset win

Quarterback C.J. Beathard put the 49ers in position to win Monday night at Lambeau Field.

But like everyone else in a position to contribute, he did not do enough to prevent the 49ers from a 33-30 gut-punch of a loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

“I thought C.J. did some real good things. C.J., he was one of the reasons that I thought we had a chance to win that game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan after reviewing the game film.

“He made some big plays throughout the game, kept the chains moving a number of times for us. There’s a couple of plays at the end that I know he’d like to have back where he had a couple of opportunities that he missed. But he also had a few opportunities early in the game that he made which was one of the reasons we were in the position that we were.”

The most glaring physical mistake came on a third-and-4 from the Green Bay 24 early in the fourth quarter. Tight end George Kittle was all alone on the right side of the field for an easy first down, but Beathard overthrew him. The 49ers settled for Robbie Gould’s 43-yard field goal.

Beathard completed 16 of 23 pass attempts for 245 yards with two touchdown passes to Marquise Goodwin and one interception for a passer rating of 115.3.

On a third-and-3 situation from the Green Bay 46 with approximately a minute remaining in regulation of a tie game, Beathard tried to hit Goodwin deep against an all-out blitz. His pass was underthrown and intercepted. The interception itself was not a big deal, considering it came on third down and penned the Packers back at the 10-yard line. But Beathard likely could have hit Kittle with a quick pass for the first down.

“I was proud of how he played,” Shanahan said of Beathard. “But there’s definitely things he can learn from and I think he will. It’s just that’s what goes with playing in this league. You’ve got to take all of the lessons you learn, whether good or bad, and you’ve got to make sure you turn them into positives and hopefully they can make you a better player.”

Injury report

The 49ers open the week to face the Los Angeles Rams with three players in their defensive backfield listed as day-to-day with injuries coming out of Monday’s game, Shanahan said.

Starting right cornerback Jimmie Ward, who left the game for the final two possessions with an aggravation of a hamstring injury, is questionable. Cornerback Greg Mabin replaced Ward late in the game and gave up four crucial pass plays, including a 16-yard Rodgers-to-Davante Adams touchdown.

Nickel back K’Waun Wiliams sustained a shoulder injury, and reserve cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was placed in the concussion protocol, Shanahan said. Witherspoon, a second-year pro, sustained a concussion in an October 2017 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

This ‘n’ that

While a good portion of Shanahan’s staff began work on Monday to face the Los Angeles Rams, Shanahan said he waited until after the game to get started.

“You try to get ahead, spend all that Monday doing some of that stuff,” Shanahan said. “Usually play-callers like myself, I don’t do much of that on Mondays because I only want to think of one defense for the game.”

The team arrived back to the Bay Area around 4 a.m. Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at their offices in Santa Clara. . .

The plan for linebacker and special teams player Dekoda Watson is to begin practicing next Monday after the game against the Rams, Shanahan said. Watson has been on injured reserve since the beginning of the season with a hamstring injury. He could be eligible to play in the Nov. 1 game against the Raiders. . .

The 49ers may not have to do as much preparation of the basics to face the Rams because of the familiarity that exists among the coaching staffs.

Rams coach Sean McVay worked under Shanahan while both men served on the staff of Shanahan’s father, Mike. Because the offensive schemes are similar, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has knowledge of the Rams system. And Kyle Shanahan knows about Wade Phillips’ defense from facing him through the years.

“It’s both sides. Sean and I definitely have familiarity with him, and Saleh does too because our offenses do some similar things,” Shanahan said. “I have more familiarity with Wade also and what he’s done over the years. So there’s not many secrets to either side of us. We have to line up and we have to play well.”