49ers

How Ahkello Witherspoon will move forward from challenging sophomore season

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AP

How Ahkello Witherspoon will move forward from challenging sophomore season

Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is ready to move on from his challenging sophomore season with a plan to be a consistent force opposite of Richard Sherman.

Witherspoon stood out enough in his rookie year to be invited to workout with Sherman and his fellow Pro-Bowl cornerbacks, Aqib Talib, Darius Slay, Xavier Rhodes. Things did not go as smoothly in 2018. 

Witherspoon, however, has already put the last season behind him and looks to improve his game with the help of new defensive backs coach, Joe Woods. He explained what they have been focusing on. 

“Just technique,” Witherspoon said. “When you have the skill that I do, the ability that I do, you tend to get away from technique just because you’re physically gifted. And this league demands that you’re technical at all times, or else you will be exposed.

“That’s probably the biggest focus just giving myself the best opportunity to be successful.”  

While Witherspoon appears quite confident in his physical abilities, he also addressed how he needed to adjust the mental aspect of his game. He explained what he learned from having so much momentum after his first NFL season. 

“Just being consistent,” Witherspoon said. “That you’ve never arrived in this league having a good rookie year. It’s time to take that to the next level and not regress.”  

Even after only a few OTA practices in the books, Witherspoon spoke about how he is looking forward to an improved pass rush with the addition of Dee Ford and Nick Bosa to the team. His job becomes much different, only have to cover for two or three seconds as opposed to four or five.  

“They are holding onto the ball right now because they aren’t getting hit in the neck,” Witherspoon said. “It doesn’t really show up yet, but when you start watching film, that’s when you see it.” 

Who will play opposite of Sherman will be determined later in training camp but the stage seems to be set for Witherspoon to be battling Jason Verrett once the veteran is healthy. Witherspoon will be learning as much as he can from both vets as the offseason continues. 

The most important thing he learned might have been watching what Sherman was able to accomplish while being hobbled from the recovery of his Achilles injury. 

[RELATED: Tarvarius Moore moved from CB to saftey]

“Just how successful you can be if your mental is in the right place, and the details,” Witherspoon said. “Because you talk about the physical ability, if the mental isn’t there if your approach isn’t there, it’s not going to do anything for you. 

“Same thing, if some physical ability isn’t there if you’re lacking a step here or there, if you have the mental approach and the mental presence he does, you can be successful.” 

49ers injury report: Game-time decision if Dee Ford will play vs. Steelers

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AP

49ers injury report: Game-time decision if Dee Ford will play vs. Steelers

Defensive end Dee Ford is feeling better after sitting out the second half of the 49ers’ game last week against the Cincinnati Bengals with discomfort in his knee and quadriceps, coach Kyle Shanahan said.

“Hopefully, he’ll be feeling good on Sunday,” Shanahan said. “He said he felt good. He looked good walking through. But I know that’ll go all the way up to Sunday.”

Ford, who is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, sat out practices Wednesday and Thursday. He was scheduled to take part in limited practice on Friday, but the 49ers dialed back their planned practice to a walk-through at their Santa Clara facility because of the high intensity of the practices earlier in the week.

“I know he’s feeling better now than he has the last few days, but he’s still not fully there, yet,” Shanahan said of Ford. “We’ll see how these last 48 hours go. Hopefully, they go well. If it does, I know he feels confident to go out there, especially with time off the following week.”

The 49ers face the Steelers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. After the game, the club will have a bye week before returning to action on Monday, Oct. 7, against the Cleveland Browns.

Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa (ankle), and safeties Jaquiski Tartt (toe) and Jimmie Ward (hand) are also listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Bosa and Tartt are expected to play, while Ward is likely to miss his third consecutive game to open the season.

Shanahan said he expects rookie wide receiver Jalen Hurd to be available after the bye week. Hurd has sat out five weeks with a back condition.

“He’s on track,” Shanahan said of Hurd. “We’ll see how it is once we get back from the bye week. I know he has a lot of work to do when we all get away from here a little bit for the four days. It’ll be big the work he puts in when we’re away. We expect him to be ready when we get back.”

The 49ers will not have the services of wide receiver Trent Taylor for at least eight weeks after he underwent surgery to repair a Jones fracture on his right foot. The bone has healed, Shanahan said, but there were issues with some of the soft tissue around the bone on the outside of his foot that has caused a flareup. Taylor is eligible to return to action on Nov. 17 against the Arizona Cardinals.

[RELATED: 49ers place Taylor on IR, re-sign Young]

The 49ers placed Taylor on injured reserve and signed veteran offensive tackle Sam Young. Shanahan said he does not think Young will be active and in uniform for Sunday’s game.

49ers injury report

OUT
RB Tevin Coleman (ankle)
WR Jalen Hurd (back)
OT Joe Staley (leg)
WR Trent Taylor (foot) – injured reserve

Questionable
DE Dee Ford (quadriceps
S Jaquiski Tartt (toe)
DE Nick Bosa (ankle)
DB Jimmie Ward (hand)

Steelers injury report

OUT
FB Roosevelt Nix (knee)
LB Vince Williams (hamstring)
LB Anthony Chickillo (foot)

49ers place Trent Taylor on IR, re-sign veteran tackle Sam Young

49ers place Trent Taylor on IR, re-sign veteran tackle Sam Young

The 49ers on Friday signed veteran offensive tackle Sam Young to a one-year contract and placed wide receiver Trent Taylor on injured reserve.

Taylor, who underwent surgery Aug. 10 to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot, must sit out for at least eight weeks before he is eligible to return to the 49ers’ 53-man roster and appear in a game.

Originally, the 49ers placed Taylor's timetable to return at four to six weeks. As recently as last week, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said he hoped Taylor would be able to return to action after the 49ers' Week 4 bye.

Taylor was expected to be one of the team’s leading pass-catchers this season before he sustained the fracture to the fifth metatarsal on his right foot. Since the 49ers selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, Taylor has appeared in 29 games and caught 69 passes for 645 yards and three touchdowns.

The 49ers re-signed Young, who was among their final cuts before the start of the regular season. The 49ers require more depth at offensive tackle after Joe Staley broke his left fibula, an injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Rookie Justin Skule is scheduled to start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers at left tackle.

[RELATED: Jimmy G headlines 49ers to watch in Week 3]

In his nine-year NFL career, Young has appeared in 88 games with 21 starts with Dallas, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Miami. Young will wear No. 65 for the 49ers.