49ers

Marshall: Fuzzy memory of first meeting with Ward due to painkillers

Marshall: Fuzzy memory of first meeting with Ward due to painkillers

SANTA CLARA – Wide receiver Brandon Marshall supplied 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward with the first learning experience of his NFL career early in his rookie season.

Ward has a vivid memory of the game – just his second in the NFL – and the three touchdowns passes Marshall caught on him to lead the Chicago Bears to a 28-20 victory over the 49ers in the first regular-season game played at Levi’s Stadium.

But Marshall, now a member of the New York Jets, admitted Wednesday to having a fuzzy recollection of that game due to painkillers he was prescribed in order to play in the game. Marshall, an 11-year NFL veteran, was in his third and final season with the Bears.

“Well, I don’t really remember much about that game because, uh, I worked really hard to get back from a high-ankle (sprain) . . . I don’t want to go there,” Marshall said, beginning to laugh on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

“I’ll say it: I took a couple pain pills, so . . . I took a couple of pain pills to mask the pain. I really wasn’t supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle, you know, within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four-to-six weeks. So I don’t remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. That was pretty much it.”

Marshall was listed as questionable for the game. On the day of the game, ESPN reported, citing a source, that there was a "75 percent" chance neither Marshall nor Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) would play. Both receivers played in the game.

Marshall had five receptions for 48 yards with touchdown catches of 17, 5 and 3 yards while being matched in the slot against Ward, the 49ers’ first-round pick in that year’s draft. That game served as a study guide for Ward.

“Yeah, I watched it a lot,” Ward said. “It was my welcome-to-the-NFL game. Just looking forward to going against Brandon Marshall for the second time in my career.”

Ward will undoubtedly see plenty of Marshall on Sunday when the 49ers face the Jets on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. Marshall may not remember much from facing Ward two seasons ago, but he said he has been impressed with what he sees on film.

“I think he’s really tough,” Marshall said. “He’s tough and he’s crafty and savvy. This is a guy that seems to really study the game and understands his opponent. If you go out there and give him the same release two or three times in a row, nine times out of 10, he’s going to get the best of you. We have to do a better job than him this week of studying film and trying to outwork him mentally.”

Marshall’s revelation that his memory of the 2014 game against the 49ers is clouded due to the use of painkillers comes at a time when Warriors coach Steve Kerr last week said on the Warriors Insider Podcast that he tried marijuana in hopes it would provide relief during the back issues that forced him to take a leave of absence of nearly four months.

“I’m not a pot person; it doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr told CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal.”

When asked for his stance on whether the NFL should reconsider its position to include marijuana as a banned substance, Marshall received some direction from a Jets public-relations employee who could be heard in the background of the call saying that Marshall “knows better than that.”

But Marshall answered the question, saying that he wants to learn more about the subject.

“I do not have a stance on that," Marshall said. "That is something that I actually want to research more this offseason when I have time. I’m not a guy that knows about the benefits of what it can do for pain and other things. But I’d like to hear others’ opinions and really research the effects it can have on us -- positives and negatives.”

49ers injury report: Six defensive starters out Sunday vs. Falcons

49ers injury report: Six defensive starters out Sunday vs. Falcons

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' defense has been hit hard with injuries, but it’s not quite as bad looking forward as you might think. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan announced that six defensive players have been ruled out for Sunday’s matchup with the Falcons. Rumors have been swirling about the timeframe for a few of those players, most notably pass rusher Dee Ford and cornerback Richard Sherman. 

“I can play in this game if we had to have it,” Sherman said. “Kyle and them are more cautious than I am. I’d play in this game if they weren’t putting the governor on me, but you know, you got to listen to the coaching staff and training staff. 

“I told them I just needed a couple of days. And I needed a couple of days, and I feel great today. I ran 19, 20 miles an hour today. That’s all you really need to play.”

Ford implied on Friday the same type of positive outlook as Sherman after Shanahan was less than optimistic about his return during the regular season. Ford hopes to be back in action by Week 17. 

[RELATED: Falcons hope to avoid Kittle steamroll]

Nose tackle D.J. Jones is on the list even though he officially will be placed on injured reserve, with Kentavius Street taking his roster spot. The team has until 1 p.m. PT on Saturday to make the move. 

Here is the full status report for Falcons vs. 49ers:

49ers 

OUT 
NT D.J. Jones (ankle)
DL Dee Ford (hamstring)
CB Richard Sherman (hamstring)
DB K’Waun Williams (concussion)
S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)
DL Jullian Taylor (elbow)

Falcons

OUT
DE Allen Bailey (not injury related)
G James Carpenter (concussion)
T Ty Sambrailo (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE
CB Isaiah Oliver (shoulder)

Five 49ers to watch in Week 15: Ben Garland takes center stage vs. Falcons

Five 49ers to watch in Week 15: Ben Garland takes center stage vs. Falcons

SANTA CLARA – What do the 49ers have left in the tank after their wild Week 14 win in New Orleans?

Apparently, quite a lot.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk emerged earlier this week from an offensive installation meeting in preparation to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. He scoffed at the question of whether coach Kyle Shanahan exhausted the playbook in the team’s 48-46 victory over the Saints on Sunday.

“Believe it or not, yeah, there’s a lot left,” Juszczyk said of the coaching staff’s plan against the Falcons. “They’re not backing down. This is not a game that we’re taking lightly or overlooking. We’re putting our best foot forward as if this is the biggest game of the year.”

The 49ers (11-2) lead the NFC West over the Seattle Seahawks (10-3). San Francisco currently holds the best record in the NFC and cannot afford a slip-up at this point in the season against Dan Quinn’s 4-9 Falcons.

Here is this week’s list of players who could be the difference between a 49ers win or an upset loss against Atlanta:

5. TE George Kittle

If the 49ers are playing a game, you almost have to include either Jimmy Garoppolo or George Kittle (or both) on this list of players to watch.

Garoppolo is coming on strong with more experience and more reliable targets in the passing game, including Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. But when the 49ers need a play – or an injection of enthusiasm or momentum – they generally turn to Kittle.

Kittle is such a huge part of the 49ers’ offense both in the passing game and as a run-blocker. His stats are not nearly as impressive as a year ago when he set the NFL single-season record of 1,377 yards receiving from a tight end. But he probably is a better all-around player.

Kittle makes this team go.

4. RB Raheem Mostert

Raheem Mostert has appeared in 47 games in his five-year NFL career. He has yet to start a game, technically, but he’s often been on the field for the opening kickoff because of his role on special teams.

But Mostert has quickly turned into the 49ers’ leading rusher and the team’s top running back. When the 49ers faced a make-or-break final drive against New Orleans in Week 14, Mostert was on the field.

Mostert has gained a team-leading 608 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 102 attempts for an average of 6.0 yards per carry. Mostert has elite, world-class speed that places him in scoring position every time he touches the ball.

3. CBs Ahkello Witherspoon, Emmanuel Moseley

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman will not play Sunday due to a right hamstring injury. The 49ers will turn to Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley to cover the Falcons’ group of wideouts, including the incomparable Julio Jones.

Jones is in the midst of his sixth consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season. He has 69 receptions for 1,016 yards in 12 games for an Atlanta offense that dropped 40 points just last week on the Carolina Panthers.

Jones (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) is a handful for any cornerback. The 49ers will play sides and not have one specific player shadowing Jones across the field, so both Witherspoon and Moseley will be tested throughout the course of the game.

2. DL Solomon Thomas

The 49ers’ defensive line has taken some hits in recent weeks. Nose tackle D.J. Jones is out for the season with a severe high-ankle sprain. The 49ers could be without edge rusher Dee Ford for the remainder of the regular season due to a hamstring injury.

The 49ers will turn to Solomon Thomas to help pick up the slack both as an interior player on run downs and as an edge rusher in nickel situations.

Thomas may never live up to the lofty expectations that came with being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft. But he can serve a valuable role for the 49ers down the stretch and into the playoffs if he can beat one-on-one blocks to make plays.

Thomas had a third-down sack last week against Drew Brees in the fourth quarter that was nullified by Sherman’s defensive holding penalty. He has to play well and make plays on a more consistent basis to take the pressure off Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead.

1. C Ben Garland

Only one person other than Garoppolo touches the ball on every 49ers’ offensive play, and that player will be making his first start with the organization on Sunday.

In Shanahan’s system, there is a lot of responsibilities on the team’s center and offensive guards. Ben Garland steps into the lineup to replace Weston Richburg, who sustained a season-ending torn patellar tendon in his right knee against the Saints.

[RELATED: Ravens and Saints, not Seahawks, are best 49ers have faced]

Garland played well in his 36 snaps amidst the deafening noise of the Superdome in the 49ers’ victory over the Saints. He showed his agility and knowledge of the system in getting out front on a couple of plays that went for good yardage.

Garland will face a big test on Sunday against Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who has 5.5 sacks this season and will try to get push up the middle to disrupt Garoppolo’s ability to step up and deliver the ball down the field.