49ers

Lions target young 49ers cornerback to avoid Richard Sherman on passes

Lions target young 49ers cornerback to avoid Richard Sherman on passes

SANTA CLARA -- Ahkello Witherspoon is finding out what life is like for a cornerback whose 49ers teammate on the other side is Richard Sherman.

Sherman is 30 and coming off Achilles surgery, but the 49ers’ first two opponents still clearly hold him in high regard. On Sunday, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford decided to not even bother challenging Sherman, deciding to focus instead on testing Witherspoon.

“That’s just the nature of my job,” Witherspoon said following the 49ers’ 30-27 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. “I don’t even care who’s on the other side, I have to be ready every single play. That’s the mindset I have. That’s the focus I have.

“With Richard Sherman being over there, I have an opportunity to make even more plays. I look forward to that.”

Hobbled by an ankle injury that limited him in practices on Wednesday and Thursday, Witherspoon made no excuses after giving up a number of plays, including two touchdowns.

In the fourth quarter, Witherspoon was called for defensive holding and pass interference in a three-play span. That prompted the 49ers’ coaching staff to insert Jimmie Ward into the game at right cornerback to take Witherspoon's place.

”He was questionable all week with just how he was practicing, having some stuff bothering him going into the game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s no excuses or anything. If you’re out there, you’ve got to play well, and just saw him hobbling a little bit, so got someone else in there.”

When asked if he still had his confidence, Witherspoon answered, “Yeah, can’t shake it.”

Sherman shared his advice for Witherspoon, who started nine games as a rookie last year after the 49ers selected him in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft.

“You have 24 hours, win, lose or draw,” Sherman said. “Regardless of the outcome or how you play, you have 24 hours. You look at the tape, you correct your mistakes and you move on. That is what you do regardless. If he played and had five picks, I would tell him the same.

“It doesn’t matter how good you played or how bad you played one week, this is the NFL. The next week is a whole new beast. You are facing a whole new team, whole new scheme. If you caught five picks, they are going to test you again. If you got five balls caught on you, they are going to test you again, regardless. That is this league, and I think that he is going to bounce back.”

Kyle Shanahan wants NFL to allow for correction of officiating errors

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USATSI

Kyle Shanahan wants NFL to allow for correction of officiating errors

MOBILE, Ala. -- Kyle Shanahan has experienced more than his share of disputes with NFL officials in his two seasons as 49ers head coach.

The officiating on Sunday in the NFC Championship game became the biggest storyline of the weekend. Shanahan said on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl that he would like to see something done to correct officiating errors.

“I’d like to see, when things are obvious and everyone in the world knows, that you do whatever it takes to get it right,” Shanahan said.

The New Orleans Saints appeared to be on their way to the Super Bowl with 1:45 remaining in regulation when Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman leveled Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis before quarterback Drew Brees' pass arrived.

“I thought the same thing that everyone else thought,” Shanahan said. “It was obviously pass interference. But they missed it. That happens a lot, so you get used to it as a coach and you got to deal with it sometimes.”

The obvious pass-interference penalty came on a third-and-10 play from the L.A. 13-yard line. A penalty would have given the Saints a fresh set of downs, enabling them to run out the clock and kick a short field goal to win the game.

Instead, the Saints had to kick the go-ahead field goal with 1:41 remaining. The Rams had enough time to drive 45 yards for a field goal to send the game into overtime. Los Angeles emerged with a 26-23 victory in overtime.

The NFL – as it has done in the past -- is expected this offseason to consider expanding the kinds of plays that fall under replay to review. But there is no guarantee the league will make any changes to its current replay rules to allow for challenges on judgment calls, such as pass interference or holding.

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers look to fill two vacant spots on offensive staff

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AP

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers look to fill two vacant spots on offensive staff

MOBILE, Ala. – Coach Kyle Shanahan has filled out his defensive staff, but he is still contemplating the moves he must make to finalize the list of 49ers offensive assistants.

“Even though it was unfortunate to lose two good coaches on offense, I do look at it as an opportunity to see if we can improve in any other areas,” Shanahan said Tuesday at the Senior Bowl.

“(But) it’s going to be tough to get guys specifically who are better than those two.”

Former quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello is the new offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos under coach Vic Fangio. And former assistant offensive line coach Adam Stenavich is the new Green Bay Packers offensive line coach under first-year coach Matt LaFleur.

Initially, the 49ers denied the Broncos permission to speak with Scangarello. The 49ers denied passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur and run game coordinator Mike McDaniel opportunities to be non-playing calling offensive coordinators of other teams.

“I needed more time to talk about it,” Shanahan said of immediately filing the paperwork to deny the Broncos permission to interview Scangarello.

“The initial reaction (was) I don’t want to lose good coaches, at all, and you don’t have to. But it’s very tough to keep a coach back when he’s getting a huge promotion. It’s a tough position that we’re in because I want to do right by people, always. But my No. 1 job is to do what’s best for the 49ers. That’s what you got to always think about, and losing good coaches is not what’s best for the 49ers.”

Shanahan said he spoke with Fangio and Broncos general manager John Elway to be assured that Scangarello had a strong chance to get the job and his role would constitute a promotion. The 49ers informed the Broncos they could interview Scangarello, and he was hired last week.

Teams are allowed to deny assistant coaches under contract for any job that is not an opportunity to be a head coach.

The 49ers dened LaFleur opportunities with Green Bay and Minnesota. Although Mike LaFleur would have worked for his brother with the Packers, Shanahan said it was more difficult to deny Minnesota because it was a better job. Matt LaFleur will call the plays in Green Bay.

The club denied Arizona from speaking with McDaniel. New Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury will call the plays.

“It wasn’t a promotion,” Shanahan said of those jobs. “Mike and Mike, I gave them the coordinator title before the year started. That’s what they do for us. They are under contract, so that one was a very easy one for me.

“I listen to every one. I would not feel guilty or bad. I know the situation they’re in here and what we’ve done together for a long time. I know how important they are here and what they do here. Why would I let them go do that for someone else?”

Mike LaFleur and McDaniel will be presented with contracts for one-year extensions in the offseason. If the coaches sign the extensions, the 49ers again would have the opportunity to deny them the possibility of assistant coaching positions with other teams next offseason.

In the meantime, LaFleur and McDaniel will run the offense this week and share in the play-calling for the South squad at the Senior Bowl. Both assistants are also candidate to replace Scangarello as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Shanahan noted the 49ers have two strong in-house candidates.

He also has the option of considering other coaches from outside the curent staff.

The 49ers have made two changes to their defensive staff. Former Denver defensive coordiantor Joe Woods replaces Jeff Hafley, who takes over as Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator. Kris Kocurek takes over as defensive line coach. The 49ers fired Jeff Zgonina when Kocurek became available after the Miami Dolphins fired their coaching staff.

Neither Woods nor Kocurek are in Mobile this week. That was a perk Shanahan said he gave them to help convince them to sign with the 49ers.

“That was part of my recruiting for them,” Shanahan said. "I threw that out there before they said yes. If they’d said yes (immediately), I wouldn’t have thrown that out there."