49ers

Garcia surprised by lack of 49ers franchise QB, fully believes in Shanahan

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AP

Garcia surprised by lack of 49ers franchise QB, fully believes in Shanahan

The succession of 49ers Pro Bowl quarterbacks ended a decade-and-a-half ago with Jeff Garcia.

After Joe Montana came Steve Young. And when Young retired, Garcia stepped onto the field with the 49ers and earned three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl. Garcia set the franchise record with 4,278 passing yards in 2000.

Since Garcia’s departure, no other 49ers quarterback has come within 900 yards of his mark.

“It is surprising with the way the game has opened up and you see the amount of yards quarterbacks are throwing for on a consistent basis,” Garcia said.

“It is surprising that they haven’t been able to develop a quarterback to become that face of the franchise.”

Garcia believes the 49ers’ passing game will be rejuvenated this season under first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer. And Garcia will be a keen observer in his new role as analyst on NBC Sports Bay Area for “49ers Pregame Live” and “49ers Postgame Live.”

“Obviously, football is something that’s comfortable and familiar to me,” said Garcia, who has done some work in the past with the NFL Network. “I thought this was an opportunity to get back in front of the camera and share my knowledge, my enthusiasm and my personality.”

Garcia, 47, lives in San Diego and has four children – all the under the age of 10. After one season of coaching in the Canadian Football League, one season as an assistant with the St. Louis Rams and several years working as a private quarterbacks coach, Garcia said his focus is now on his family.

But the Gilroy native has continued to keep close tabs on his former team through the years. Two years after Garcia left the 49ers, the club selected Alex Smith with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft.

“They wanted a franchise quarterback in Alex Smith and it didn’t work out that way,” Garcia said. “When you go through inconsistencies of coaching staffs and offenses you’re trying to learn year-in and year-out, it doesn’t put you in a position to have great success.”

The 49ers thought they had a franchise quarterback with Colin Kaepernick, but his production leveled off after a strong start upon taking over for Smith in the middle of the 2012 season.

“When you look at Colin and break down his skillset, it’s not one of a natural passer,” Garcia said. “He struggles with accuracy. I think he struggles with processing his decision-making, going through the reads 1, 2 and 3.

“I don’t think they could truly build a pro-style offense around what he offered on the field.”

Garcia has deep appreciation for the system Mike Shanahan ran while head coach of the Denver Broncos. Garcia said he sees similarities in what first-year 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has done throughout his coaching career.

“When his dad was in Denver, there was a time I almost signed with Denver just because I wanted to play in that system,” Garcia said. “I like how they move the quarterbacks, and use different set-up points, how they set up opportunities in the passing game because of their great run game and the zone scheme they work with and the play-action and the movement. All those things part of my skillset would’ve been great in that system.”

Hoyer, 31, begins his ninth NFL season with his seventh different team. Garcia believes Hoyer, who enters the first regular-season opener of his career as a starting quarterback, has the ability to thrive in Shanahan’s offense.

“With Hoyer, I think you have a quarterback who understands the game very well,” Garcia said. “He’s been around. He’s mature. He’s been around Tom Brady. He knows how to prepare. He understands the ins and outs of how to prepare as a leader. And he had a stint in Cleveland with Kyle Shanahan.

“I think Brian has enough of the skillset and mentality to make good decisions and be a productive quarterback.”

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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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.