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 mock draft 2020: 49ers expected to take Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs

NFL mock draft 2020: 49ers expected to take Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs

The 2020 NFL Draft is merely two weeks away. It will take part in much different circumstances than the pomp of Las Vegas, but nevertheless, seven rounds of draft picks will be complete. 

After shocking many by trading star defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts, the 49ers now own the No. 13 pick in the draft, along with the No. 31 pick they already owned as the NFC champions. 

San Francisco can go plenty of ways with its two picks in the first round and should be able to find a receiver with star potential for Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo. Here at NBC Sports Bay Area, Dalton Johnson and Josh Schrock have the 49ers taking receiver Henry Ruggs III at No. 13 and cornerback Jeff Gladney at No. 31. 

Check out how various mock drafts see it playing out: 

Todd McShay, ESPN.com: WR Henry Ruggs (No. 13), CB A.J. Terrell (No. 31)
Ruggs: "Coach Kyle Shanahan likes speedy guys who can tack on yards after the catch, and that's what Ruggs does. Suddenly, that arsenal doesn't look too bad with the likes of Deebo Samuel and George Kittle also running routes for Jimmy Garoppolo."
Terrell: "Terrell is long and plays fast -- as he ran a 4.42 at the combine. He has the talent to be a difference-maker opposite Richard Sherman."

Mel Kiper, ESPN.com: WR Jerry Jeudy (No. 13), CB Noah Igbinoghene (No. 31)
Jeudy: "Adding Jeudy, who caught 77 passes for 1,163 yards and 10 TDs last season, to a group with Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne makes this a really exciting (and young) trio of wideouts for Jimmy Garoppolo."
Igbinoghene: "Igbinoghene, a track athlete who is still raw, is my third-ranked corner, and he could also help as a return man."

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: WR Jerry Jeudy (No. 13), OL Cesar Ruiz (No. 31)
Jeudy: "If Jeudy is on the board, this is a no-brainer for the 49ers."
Ruiz: "He’s a mean but agile centerpiece in the middle of the offensive line, and he has the moves to get upfield and lock out in the zone-blocking scheme."

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: WR Henry Ruggs (No. 13), DT Ross Blacklock (No. 31)
Ruggs: "Let's take a minute and just imagine Ruggs in the hands of a creative play-caller like Kyle Shanahan."
Blacklock: "The 49ers will likely trade down to stockpile selections, as they currently don't hold a pick in Rounds 2-4."

Dan Kadar, SB Nation: WR CeeDee Lamb (No. 31), S Xavier McKinney (No. 31)
Lamb: "Lamb would give the 49ers a superstar wide receiver to pair with Deebo Samuel. Along with tight end George Kittle, San Francisco would have one of the best receiver groups in the NFL."
McKinney: "He’s capable of playing safety and cornerback, and comes out of a system at Alabama that should have him pro ready."

    49ers' Kendrick Bourne implores Matt Breida to re-sign for 2020 season

    49ers' Kendrick Bourne implores Matt Breida to re-sign for 2020 season

    Kendrick Bourne wants Matt Breida to follow in his footsteps.

    The 49ers wide receiver signed his one-year tender Monday, ensuring he would return for the 2020 season. San Francisco placed second-round tenders on Bourne and Breida last month, and Bourne encouraged Breida to sign his, too.

    Bourne and Breida joined the 49ers as undrafted free agents in 2017. The 24-year-old receiver scored a career-high five touchdowns in the 2019 regular season and caught 30 passes for 358 yards.

    [RELATED: Why Jeudy could be just what 49ers want in 2020 NFL Draft]

    Breida, meanwhile, largely lost his role in the 49ers offense by the end of the 2019 season. He ran a career-high 153 times for 814 yards in 2018, but Breida ran for nearly 200 fewer yards in 2019 as the running back ended the season behind Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman on the 49ers’ depth chart. Jerick McKinnon’s return could further crowd Breida out.

    Bourne has been with Breida every step of their NFL careers, however, and he wants the running back to once again be his teammate this season.