49ers

Lynch: Armstead, Buckner fit 49ers' new defensive scheme

Lynch: Armstead, Buckner fit 49ers' new defensive scheme

Trent Baalke’s final two seasons as 49ers general manager brought defensive linemen to the organization with the club’s top draft picks.

And, for that, new 49ers general manager John Lynch said he is grateful.

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner may have been chosen when the 49ers’ base defensive alignment was a 3-4, but Lynch said the two Oregon products are versatile enough to thrive in the new system defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will install.

“I think they fit very well,” Lynch said Tuesday on 95.7 The Game. “And that’s one thing I think I want to make sure (to say) because I really believe it, I think Trent Baalke did a great job of getting guys that, yes, they were picked for one system, but I think they transition very well to our system.”

Buckner appeared in 15 games as a rookie after Baalke selected him with the No. 7 overall pick. He ranked second in the NFL among defensive tackles with 73 tackles and was fourth among rookies with six sacks. Buckner was chosen to the All-Rookie team by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Armstead, selected with the 17th overall pick in 2015, recorded 2.5 sacks in eight games last season. He sustained a shoulder injury during training camp and finally underwent season-ending surgery in November.

Buckner and Armstead may be asked to play different positions but they will also be taught to play a different styles this season, Lynch promised.

“They were very much in a read-and-react posture last year,” Lynch said. “I’m excited to cut them loose. When we say ‘aggressive,’ it doesn’t mean that we’re blitzing every play. It means we’re getting off the ball. At the snap, we’re taking the fight to them. And I think these are guys who fit what we’re going to do very well. We’re excited about it.”

The 49ers last week hired defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina, who played 17 seasons in the league. Zgonina served the past four seasons as an assistant defensive line coach with Houston (2013-15) and the New York Giants (2016).

“They’re going to be coached hard,” Lynch said of the 49ers’ defensive linemen. “They’re going to be asked to sprint to the football, wherever it is. That doesn’t just come natural. Those are habits that you have to pick up.”

Every defensive player currently on the 49ers’ roster was brought to the organization to play in a 3-4 defense. Lynch downplayed the practical importance of the team’s defensive label because of extra defensive backs being deployed against three-receiver personnel groupings.

“Seventy- to 75-percent of this game now is played in sub or nickel,” Lynch said. “At that point, that’s kind of out the door. It’s can you stop the run and, then, can you go get the guy throwing the football and bring him down? We think both of those guys have great potential to do that.”

Jimmy Garoppolo is back in the building, already at 49ers meetings

Jimmy Garoppolo is back in the building, already at 49ers meetings

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo already is back at the facility attending meetings after his ACL surgery. 

In his final press conference before Sunday’s match-up with the Los Angeles Rams, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed that Garoppolo was back with his team. 

“He got back on Tuesday,” Shanahan said, “so Wednesday he’s been in all the team meetings and stuff, and it’s been good to have him around. He’s still on his crutches and everything, so he’s not going out to practice or anything.” 

Similar to practice, injured players typically are not allowed on the sidelines during games because of the risk of further injuries. As a result, Garoppolo could be at the stadium on game day but not out on the field. 

Shanahan seemed genuinely pleased to see his franchise quarterback back in the building when he gave an update on Garoppolo’s appearance. 

“It was good to see his face,” Shanahan said. “Definitely has grown his beard out a little bit. You can tell he’s been sitting in a hospital or in a bed most of his time. Good to have him back in the building.

"He needs to make a few more strides just healing from his surgery and things like that, and we will get him around a lot more.”

Going through a season-ending injury is traumatic, but Shanahan reported that Garoppolo seems to be in good spirits. 

“Seems good,” Shanahan said. “Seeing him in the meetings, just talking to him a little bit, you know, I think he’s happy to be back with the team and to get back in this with us.” 

The only silver lining of both running back Jerick McKinnon and Garoppolo both going through ACL rehabilitation is that they will be able to do it together. 

49ers-Rams injury report: Ahkello Witherspoon in line to start after no snaps

49ers-Rams injury report: Ahkello Witherspoon in line to start after no snaps

Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who is on pace to be cleared through the NFL’s concussion protocol, is likely to start Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Friday.

Witherspoon is expected to start in place of Jimmie Ward, who re-aggravated a hamstring condition late in the 49ers’ Monday night loss to the Green Bay Packers. Ward is listed as doubtful to play against the Rams.

Witherspoon did not play any snaps of defense in Green Bay, as the 49ers opted for Greg Mabin after Ward was injured in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers have an issue on the cornerback spots, too. Veteran Richard Sherman is listed as questionable after not practicing Friday because of a calf condition, the team announced. Nickel back K'Waun Williams is questionable with a shoulder injury.

Witherspoon was diagnosed with a concussion after colliding with Mabin on the Packers’ game-winning field goal on the final play of regulation. Witherspoon was limited with no contact in practices Thursday and Friday, so he has to pass the contact requirement before Sunday’s game, Shanahan said.

Wide receivers Pierre Garçon and Trent Taylor are listed as questionable after taking part in limited drills Friday.

The 49ers will not have wide receiver Dante Pettis' services for the third consecutive game. Pettis sustained a left knee sprain on Sept. 23 while returning a first-quarter punt against the Los Angeles Chargers.

For the Rams, wide receiver Cooper Kupp has been ruled out with a knee injury. Kupp is the Rams’ second-leading receiver with 30 catches for 438 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns.

49ers injury report

Out
WR Dante Pettis (knee)

Doubtful
CB Jimmie Ward (hamstring)

Questionable
WR Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee)
CB Richard Sherman (calf)
WR Trent Taylor (back)
CB K'Waun Williams (shoulder)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (concussion)

49ers practice report

FRIDAY
Did not practice
WR Dante Pettis (knee)
CB Richard Sherman (calf)
CB Jimmie Ward (hamstring)

Limited practice
WR Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee)
WR Trent Taylor (back)
CB K'Waun Williams (shoulder)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (concussion)

Full participation
RB Matt Breida (shoulder, ankle)
LB Reuben Foster (shoulder)
G Joshua Garnett (toe)
WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring, quadricep)
TE George Kittle (knee)
G Mike Person (knee)
C Weston Richburg (knee)
OT Joe Staley (knee)
S Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder)

Rams injury report

Out
WR Cooper Kupp (knee)

Rams practice report

FRIDAY
Did not practice
WR Cooper Kupp (knee)

Limited practice
DE Michael Brockers (shoulder)

Full participation
DE Michael Brockers (shoulder)
LB Matt Longacre (back)
WR Josh Reynolds (hand)
G Rodger Saffold (knee)
C John Sullivan (not injury related)
OT Andrew Whitworth (not injury related)
K Greg Zuerlein (right groin)