49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan look forward to first 49ers home crowd

Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan look forward to first 49ers home crowd

SANTA CLARA — The crowd that comes to Levi’s Stadium on football game days has not been known for offering the 49ers a significant home-field advantage, but both Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo believe that will not be the case in the team’s home opener on Sunday. 

Much has been made of the lightly populated sunny side of the stadium on Sundays in Santa Clara since the 49ers made the move from Candlestick Park. The subject of the relocation alone often raises the blood pressure of the venerable fans who spent time in those orange baseball stadium seats in South San Francisco. 

No one would dare compare the game-day atmosphere of Levi’s with Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, or Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, which are known for being the loudest of the outdoor venues. At least not yet. 

Shanahan understands why the fan base could be considered lackadaisical, but he believes it’s because of the product on the field. He has seen what a good game can do to work fans up into a lather. 

“I don’t think we’ve given our fans a lot to be excited about in the two years I’ve been here at home,” Shanahan said. “Or the few years prior, but when we have, I think the stadium has been loud.” 

After seeing a significant 49ers fan presence in both Tampa and Cincinnati, Garoppolo also has high expectations for the team’s first home game. 

“I think that our home crowd is awesome,” Garoppolo said. “These last two games in Tampa and Cincinnati especially, it turned into a home game with all the red out there. It was fun. I expect a great atmosphere and hope the crowd is rocking.” 

The 49er Faithful have traveled well in the first two weeks but so do Steelers fans. Shanahan recalled one game, in particular, facing Pittsburgh where their fans took away the home-field advantage. 

“Pittsburgh always travels well wherever I’ve been,” Shanahan said. “When I was in Atlanta when we were on our way to the Super Bowl, we still had to use a silent cadence at home even when we were, I think, 11-4 at the time.” 

Even with that past experience, Shanahan predicts a heavily weighted home fan presence facing the Steelers. 

[RELATED: Rice believes 49ers are SB contenders

“I’m expecting it to be a strong 49ers crowd,” Shanahan said. “I always revert back to, I think it was the Christmas Eve game versus Jacksonville. I mean, we were out of it and I thought our fans were as loud as any stadium I’ve been at. I felt it last year versus Oakland. I felt it versus Seattle last year.

“I think our fans come ready, and if we come ready, I think we’ll be very happy about our home-field advantage.”

49ers' Deebo Samuel has played with physical mentality his entire life

49ers' Deebo Samuel has played with physical mentality his entire life

SANTA CLARA -- Commentators and fans alike have said Deebo Samuel runs angry with the ball in his hands, but for the 49ers rookie wide receiver, it’s the only way he knows how to play. 

When Samuel played football in his youth, his father was his coach. His instructions to his son?

“Every time you have the ball in your hands, try to get it into the end zone.”

That mantra has never changed.

“I wouldn’t say angry,” Samuel told NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s just the mentality that I have that one guy isn’t going to bring me down. And that’s always been my mentality since I’ve been playing the game.”  

Samuel’s style of play appears to be similar to that of teammate George Kittle. Neither is afraid to catch the ball across the middle and both will run over a defender once they have the ball in their hands. Samuel has an average of 7.5 yards after the catch while Kittle is not far behind at 6.5 yards. 

“I watch George,” Samuel said. “He kind of has the same mindset. I’ve never seen one guy bring him down so it’s kind of like the mentality I play with." 

Some of Samuel’s bruising ways come from his days as a running back, a position he played until he was a freshman at South Carolina. His versatility has already been utilized several times by coach Kyle Shanahan, with five rushing attempts for 27 yards and a touchdown. 

“I know what it is and know what it takes to be back there and the hits that they take,” Samuel said. “DBs out there, they’re not guys that like the physical stuff. So if they see a receiver trying to bring it to them, you know they want to hit low. Not too many people want that contact.” 

Both Samuel and Kittle have been very productive for the 49ers' offense and reliable targets for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Kittle leads the team with 541 receiving yards while Samuel is second with 339. 

With Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders' availability in doubt for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, Samuel knows that he will be asked to step up if necessary. Facing the Seahawks, the rookie caught eight of his 11 targets for 112 yards, making him the most productive receiver on the field. 

Of those three missed targets, there’s one in particular that Samuel would like back. Early in the fourth quarter, Garoppolo targeted Samuel on a slant route across the middle. The ball hit Samuel in the hands, but he wasn't able to hold on as it dangerously deflected up into the air. 

[RELATED: Watch all eight 49ers dropped passes in loss to Seahawks]

By the time Samuel made a second attempt to grab the ball, the safety already was on him and broke up the pass. It would have netted a first down at a minimum, but the drive stalled and San Francisco was forced to punt. 

“I was so worried about just turning it up more,” Samuel said. “I was more focused on that than catching the ball first. You could see the safety coming down and he was not a worry of mine. Just got to make those plays. I just don’t only want to make that catch. I want to catch the ball and do something with it after I catch it. It’s just my mentality.” 

Samuel likely will have a chance to redeem himself Sunday when the 49ers face division rival Arizona. 

49ers' decisions on inactive players vs. Cardinals could be made for them

49ers' decisions on inactive players vs. Cardinals could be made for them

SANTA CLARA – NFL rules stipulate that teams are allowed to suit up a maximum of 46 players from their 53-man rosters for games.

The 49ers might not have much wiggle room with their choices for active players for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium due to a stuffed injury report heading into the Week 11 game.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he certainly would entertain the possibility of suiting up fewer than 46 players because the 49ers would not want to place any of their players on injured reserve or create a roster spot by releasing anyone.

“We were very close to doing that the last couple weeks,” Shanahan said of the possibility of suiting up 45 players. “In order to bring in a new guy, you always have to cut someone and there’s definitely not anyone we’re trying to get rid of.

“Everyone in our building we believe can help us throughout this season, but those are some of the tough decisions you have to make, whether you take the risk of cutting someone, which you take the risk of not getting that guy back.”

Six injured players were not on the field at the beginning of 49ers practice Thursday. Another, running back Tevin Coleman, was excused from practice for personal reasons, according to a team official.

Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair is moving through the NFL’s concussion protocol. He has to been cleared for non-contact football activity and appears to be on pace to play Sunday.

C.J. Beathard has been inactive for every game as the team's No. 3 quarterback. 

[RELATED: Bosa has lots to study as 49ers prepare for Cardinals rematch]

Here' is the 49ers practice report from Thursday:

DID NOT PRACTICE
RB Matt Breida (ankle)
RB Tevin Coleman (not injury related)
K Robbie Gould (right quadricep)
DT D.J. Jones (groin)
TE George Kittle (knee, ankle)
WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs)
T Joe Staley (finger)

LIMITED
LB Azeez Al-Shaair (concussion)
TE Garrett Celek (back)
DE Dee Ford (quadricep)
RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
WR Dante Pettis (back)
TE Levine Toilolo (groin)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot, quadricep)

Shanahan already has ruled out Staley and Jones for Sunday's game. It also appears doubtful that Kittle will be available. Sanders appeared to go through the walkthrough before leaving the field at the beginning of practice and he is day-to-day.