49ers

49ers snap count: Emmanuel Moseley replaces Ahkello Witherspoon late

49ers snap count: Emmanuel Moseley replaces Ahkello Witherspoon late

The 49ers’ defense faced their biggest challenge of the season. And with the team in need of a stop, the coaching staff decided it was time to get cornerback Emmanuel Moseley on the field in place of Ahkello Witherspoon.

“Just a gut feeling,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said about the decision to go with Moseley with the NFC West title on the line.

Witherspoon started and played 59 snaps at right cornerback in the 49ers’ critical Sunday night game against the Seattle Seahawks. Moseley made a play in the final minute to help the 49ers preserve a 26-21 victory, clinching home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson completely ignored Richard Sherman’s side of the field the entire game and went after Witherspoon, who was coming off a rough game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 16.

Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh expressed confidence last week in Witherspoon’s ability to turn it around. But it got to the point late in the second half that the 49ers felt the best shot they had to win the game was with Moseley on the field.

Witherspoon gave up six receptions (on eight targets) for 71 yards, including touchdown receptions to Tyler Lockett (14 yards) and D.K. Metcalf (14 yards). Wilson’s scoring pass to Metcalf cut the 49ers’ lead to 26-21 with 3:36 remaining.

That’s when the 49ers turned to Moseley.

“Ahkello has played some good ball this year, so has Moseley,” Shanahan said. “Just at the end there when you know I don’t get to see it all, but want to give E-Man a chance. You know they were coming at him a couple times and I did not think Ahkello played a bad game by any means.”

Wilson went after Moseley on the final drive, completing two of the five passes thrown his way for 34 yards. Moseley made one of the best defensive plays of the game with a diving pass-breakup to prevent a potential 12-yard touchdown pass to Metcalf with 51 seconds remaining in the game.

The 49ers have some time to figure out what they want to do at cornerback, but it appears likely Moseley will get the call when the club opens the playoffs with an NFC divisional-round game at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 11.

Shanahan said immediately following the game he would watch the game film on the trip back to the Bay Area to help him form his opinion of Witherspoon’s overall performance.

“I’ll see it on the plane but I thought they just got him in a couple opportunities and came up short in both of those,” Shanahan said. “Wanted to throw another guy in there and see how it went, and I’ll see on the plane when I watch the film.

“But nothing against Ahkello going forward, but we put two guys out there who believe in. We switched it up there at the end.”

[RELATED49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 26-21 win over Seahawks]

Moseley started nine games, beginning Week 5 against Green Bay after Witherspoon missed two months due to a foot sprain.

Here is a look at how much everyone on the 49ers played Sunday on offense, defense, and special teams:

Offense

Total offensive snaps: 50
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 50
Running back – Kyle Juszczyk 34, Raheem Mostert 27, Tevin Coleman 15, Matt Breida 8
Wide receiver – Emmanuel Sanders 46, Deebo Samuel 39, Kendrick Bourne 10, Richie James 4
Tight end – George Kittle 47, Levine Toilolo 15, Ross Dwelley 5
Offensive line – Daniel Brunskill 50, Mike McGlinchey 50, Laken Tomlinson 50, Ben Garland 50, Joe Staley 50
Did not play – QB Nick Mullens, WR Dante Pettis, OL Mike Person

Defense

Total defensive snaps: 75
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 65, Nick Bosa 64, Arik Armstead 63, Sheldon Day 30, Solomon Thomas 30, Anthony Zettel 29, Kevin Givens 10, Kentavius Street 8
Linebacker – Fred Warner 75, Dre Greenlaw 74, Azeez Al-Shaair 18, Mark Nzeocha 1
Defensive back – Marcell Harris 75, Richard Sherman 74, Jimmie Ward 73, Ahkello Witherspoon 59, K’Waun Williams 56, Emmanuel Moseley 15, Tarvarius Moore 6

Special teams

Total special teams plays: 22
Moore 18, Elijah Lee 17, Nzeocha 17, Moseley 16, James 13, Mitch Wishnowsky 12, Antone Exum 11, Ward 10, Mostert 9, Breida 9, Dwelley 8, Buckner 8, Armstead 8, Al-Shaair 8, D.J. Reed 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Harris 6, Toilolo 5, Bourne 5, Thomas 5, Robbie Gould 4, Justin Skule 4, Staley 4, Garland 4, Brunskill 4, McGlinchey 4, Tomlinson 4, Juszczyk 3, Day 3, Coleman 2, Warner 2, Greenlaw 2, Kittle 1, Bosa 1, Williams 1, Zettel 1

Not active

QB C.J. Beathard
S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)
RB Jeff Wilson
CB Dontae Johnson
TE Daniel Helm
DE Dee Ford (hamstring)
WR Jordan Matthews

Why Cam Newton is unlikely to join 49ers as Jimmy Garoppolo's backup

Why Cam Newton is unlikely to join 49ers as Jimmy Garoppolo's backup

It doesn't seem to make a difference who the free-agent quarterback is. There simply is no end to the rumors or suggestions that Jimmy Garoppolo could be replaced.

For years, pundits have argued that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan would prefer Kirk Cousins over the incumbent, but that is all moot now that Cousins has signed a two-year contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings. Recently, there was no shortage of rumors that San Francisco was considering swapping Garoppolo out for Tom Brady, who has since signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Teddy Bridgewater was never suggested as a potential Garoppolo replacement, but he is now the starter for the Carolina Panthers after signing with them in free agency. The man -- and former MVP -- he is replacing, however, is currently without a team.

And thus begin the Cam Newton-to-49ers rumors.

Though numerous current and former 49ers have come out in support of Garoppolo, NFL Media's Bucky Brooks feels as though Newton would be a fit in San Francisco -- not necessarily as a Jimmy G replacement, or at least not right away.

"If I'm Cam Newton, and I can't go to the L.A. Chargers because they love Tyrod [Taylor], I go to San Francisco," Brooks said on KNBR's "The Mark Willard Show" on Thursday. "And the reason why Cam Newton in San Francisco would work is because I just believe that there may not be this great sense that Jimmy Garoppolo is the guy there.

"And let's just say that he may not be the guy, so you put Cam back there behind him, and Cam gets to learn from one of the best quarterback gurus that we've seen in the league. And maybe, just maybe, Kyle Shanahan is intrigued on having an explosive athlete running the stretch bootleg concept, putting the ball in the perimeter, throwing it out there."

Alright, where to begin?

First and foremost, none of the QBs rumored to be potential replacements for Garoppolo are verifiably superior. In fact, between Garoppolo, Cousins, Brady and Newton, Jimmy G threw for the most touchdowns, averaged the most yards per attempt and posted the best adjusted quarterback rating last season. He's also the youngest by at least a year-and-a-half, with Newton -- who turns 31 in May -- the next closest in age. Garoppolo turns 29 in November.

Then there's the financial aspect. Brooks seems to think the 49ers would be able to fit Newton into their salary-cap space.

"I'm just saying, from the Niners' standpoint, you would be able to get Cam at his cheapest," Brooks continued. "So if you think about a value proposition, just to bring him in, in case Jimmy Garoppolo gets hurt or falters, it would just be an interesting thing to think about if I'm the San Francisco 49ers, and I'm looking to add value and pop to my offense."

What Brooks is forgetting, however, is that a large portion of San Francisco's cap space has already been set aside in order to sign standout tight end George Kittle to a record-breaking contract extension, not to mention approximately $7 million that will be needed to sign the 49ers' 2020 draft class. 

[RELATED: Lynch promises 49ers will be ready for April's NFL draft]

Yes, Newton isn't exactly in a great negotiating position, but it's extremely hard to envision him signing somewhere on the cheap. He is unquestionably superior to Taylor, for instance, and the Chargers would seem like the likeliest destination for him. But even if Newton goes somewhere else, it's highly unlikely it will be for a salary that San Francisco could absorb without throwing a huge wrench into the construction of the rest of the roster.

From a talent standpoint, there's no doubt that Shanahan would love to have Newton on the 49ers, and while the team has confidence in Nick Mullens as Garoppolo's backup, he has never won a league MVP award. That said, Mullens comes significantly cheaper than Newton, and also won't create a circus through his presence at training camp. Newton surely would if he was there -- and rightfully so -- but unless he feels like taking the bare minimum, don't count on him coming to San Francisco.

GM John Lynch promises 49ers will be ready for April's 2020 NFL Draft

GM John Lynch promises 49ers will be ready for April's 2020 NFL Draft

The NFL draft will proceed as scheduled in a month, and 49ers general manager John Lynch promised on Friday the club will be ready.

Lynch posted a video on social media from his home office, as the team’s draft preparation continues with members of the organization working separately due to NFL guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The scouting department and coaches have been taking part in regular video conference meetings, Lynch said.

“This draft is absolutely huge for us, so there’s no excuses, no explanations,” Lynch said on the video. “We got to get our work done, albeit from home.”

Lynch said he is thankful for the hard work of the personnel department, scouts, coaching staff, and IT and video staffs. Lynch singled out vice presidents of player personnel Adam Peters and Martin Mayhew, and director of college scouting Ethan Waugh.

“We will be ready for that draft,” Lynch said.

The 49ers own the Nos. 13 and 31 picks in the first round of the draft on Thursday, April 23.

Lynch said he always looks for the blessings in any situation. Lynch and his wife, Linda, have four children, including two in college. The whole family is spending time a lot of quality time together as a result of the shelter-in-place guidelines.

[RELATED: Goodell tells NFL teams to prepare for 2020 draft off-site]

Then, Lynch offered some words of encouragement to the 49ers’ fan base.

“Make the best of the situation,” he said. “We appreciate your support always, faithful. Go Niners. Stay at home. Stay safe, and I’ve got your back.”

The 49ers also started a resource page at 49ers.com/IGYB and are asking people to take photos of their home offices and show their Niners spirit and tag their posts #IGYB (I Got Your Back).