Hoyer excited to carry out Shanahan's plan: 'Most comfortable I’ve ever been'

Hoyer excited to carry out Shanahan's plan: 'Most comfortable I’ve ever been'

SANTA CLARA – The team’s most-proven offensive weapon is the reason Brian Hoyer decided on the first day of free agency to sign a two-year contract with the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan served the past nine seasons as an offensive coordinator before the 49ers hired him as head coach. Hoyer knew Shanahan well from their season together with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

“That was a big reason why I came here,” Hoyer said. “I knew, having played for Kyle before, how great he was piecing things together. Then, you watch him go to Atlanta and do the same thing, even to a bigger stage really, taking them all the way to the Super Bowl.

“For me it was probably the deciding factor coming out here was just to play for Kyle and knowing that his scheme and the way he game plans games, that was what I wanted to be a part of.”

Hoyer was targeted to be the 49ers’ starting quarterback. He strengthened his grip on the job throughout the offseason program and training camp. The Hoyer-led 49ers open the regular season on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers are Hoyer’s seventh team in nine NFL seasons. But this is the first time he has entered a situation as the only reasonable option to be the starter.

“It helps Brian knowing that we believe in him,” Shanahan said during an interview for “49ers Game Plan,” which will debut Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.

“He knows we believe in him. He's done a good job. We don't believe in him just because we say that. He's earned it with us. I think he's earned it with the players out there. They get to see him on the practice field every day. Players aren't just going to believe in someone just because you say he's your starting quarterback.”

Hoyer took command of his leadership role. He organized a get-together for 49ers quarterbacks and receivers for three days of work and camaraderie at Southern Methodist University in Dallas three weeks before training camp.

The 49ers might not have any Pro Bowl players at the offensive skill positions, but there appears to be plenty of options for Shanahan. Depending on the specific matchup, Shanahan could feature such players as running back Carlos Hyde, versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk, possession receiver Pierre Garçon, speedster Marquise Goodwin or rookie slot receiver Trent Taylor.

On the practice field, Hoyer was one of the standouts of the summer, as he distributed the ball in nearly equal portions to all of his targets. His ability to throw the deep ball appears to be a great match for Shanahan’s system, which is predicated on using the run game to set up play-action passes.

“One of skills that really stands out to me is as a play-action passer,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said on the “49ers Insider Podcast.”

“The thing that I’ve been incredibly impressed with – and maybe I didn’t see on film – is how good of a deep ball thrower he is. We have a guy in Marquise Goodwin who can go get it. Aldrick Robinson can go get it; Victor Bolden is the same way. You need someone who can put it out there, and he has that in a big way. That has been a pleasant surprise.”

The future of the 49ers’ quarterback situation remains unsettled. But Hoyer gets the first opportunity to prove to Lynch and Shanahan that he is the franchise’s best long-term option – rather than investing big money in a veteran, such as Kirk Cousins, or spending a high draft pick on a quarterback.

Hoyer is not looking ahead because he is having too much enjoyment with his current situation.

“This has been the most fun I’ve ever had playing football,” Hoyer said. “It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been. Being able to come in day one and kind of be handed the reigns and to having the control and implement the offense and do those things and get all the reps, I think it’s been huge.

“I feel really good about where we are heading into Week 1 and we’ve just got to keep improving. We’ve improved all offseason. I feel like we got better each day in training camp and we’ve got to keep that same mentality heading into the regular season.”

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud


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


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.