49ers

Matt Breida should be his healthiest in weeks for 49ers-Giants game

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MATT MAIOCCO

Matt Breida should be his healthiest in weeks for 49ers-Giants game

SANTA CLARA -- Running back Matt Breida has been listed as questionable for five of the 49ers’ last six games.

He has not missed a game.

In fact, after giving the subject some thought, Breida disclosed he has not missed a game since his freshman year of high school, when he sat out with a broken forearm.

“You just play through it,” Breida said. “You’re never really going to be healthy. I think there are a lot of guys, it depends on whether or not they’re willing to play or they want to play or if they can play.”

Breida has started every game since Week 2 of this season despite dealing with knee, shoulder and ankle issues. When the season opened, he was expected to share the load with veteran Alfred Morris. But Breida has taken over as the team's primary back.

Breida leads the 49ers with 531 yards and two touchdowns on 96 rushing attempts. He ranks ninth in the NFL, and nobody with more rushing yards can top his 5.5-yard average.

While coach Kyle Shanahan gave the team four days off after the 49ers’ 34-3 victory over the Raiders last Thursday, there were no days off for Breida, who received regular treatment on his ailing body parts.

“It definitely helped me out a lot,” Breida said. “I’m starting to get back on the right track.”

Breida should be the healthiest he has been since Week 3 -- when he sustained a knee sprain in Kansas City -- on Monday when the 49ers face the New York Giants at Levi’s Stadium. Then, he will get additional time to recover during the bye week before he returns to his home area with a Nov. 25 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In Week 4, Breida’s shoulder popped out against the Los Angeles Chargers. One week later against the Arizona Cardinals, he sustained an ankle sprain. He compared the injuries this season to what he experienced as a sophomore at Georgia Southern, when he played through shoulder and ankle issues.

Earlier this season, Shanahan suggested the 49ers might give Breida a week off to rest his body. But Breida has been such an important part of the offense, and he insisted on playing. This is the first week in a while that there is no question Breida will be available.

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Jimmie Ward has successful return in 49ers' preseason game vs. Chiefs

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USATSI

Jimmie Ward has successful return in 49ers' preseason game vs. Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – While all eyes were on Jimmy, there was a guy named Jimmie who made a successful return, too.

Defensive back Jimmie Ward, out since May 23 due to a fractured collarbone, started at free safety for the 49ers on Saturday night and also played nickel back in the 49ers’ 27-17 preseason victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, highlighted by Jimmy Garoppolo's impressive return to the stadium where he sustained a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3 of last season.

Ward played 25 snaps on offense and saw action on two plays on special teams.

“Jimmie is a football player,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It doesn’t matter whether he’s hurt or how long he’s been out, if you allow him to go, he’s going. He’s been that way in practice all week. I know we threw him out there (Saturday), and he was able to play both nickel and free safety, and from what I saw, he played pretty well.”

Ward made three tackles and had good pass coverage down the field on a play in which Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman was penalized for offensive pass interference. Ward is in competition with Tarvarius Moore for the starting job at free safety.

“The good thing about Jimmie, and it has also been tough for him throughout his whole career, is sometimes he is the best or second-best player at every single position depending on what personnel is out there on offense,” Shanahan said. “You have an option to put him out there in a lot of places.”

Ward said the most difficult part about returning to action was his conditioning. He had the shield removed from his facemask and at one point took out his mouthpiece to allow him to breathe more freely.

Ward continued to take part in meetings while he recovered from his latest injury. He has also been participating in walkthroughs for several weeks. His knowledge of the system is his biggest advantage over Moore.

“I feel like it helps to know the whole defense because I’m in so many different parts,” Ward said. “Our base defense is cover 3, so I’m learning really what the linebackers do and sometimes what the D-end does, and everything with all the fits. So it works out perfectly when I’m moving around.”

Ward has missed 29 games in his five-year career due to a variety of injuries. His past two seasons ended due to broken forearms. But Ward said remaining positive has not been difficult for him because he shields himself from fans who often complain about or mock his injuries.

“I don’t get on social media,” he said. “That’s where all of the negative comments come from, so I didn’t get on social media and I listen to my loved ones. They always give me positive feedback.”

Ward played every snap while the 49ers' first-team defense was on the field. Moore entered the game in nickel situations at free safety with Ward moving to nickel back. The team’s primarily nickel back is K’Waun Williams, who is recovering from a knee procedure.

“He’s a ballhawk and that’s why he’s on the field because he’s one of our best 11,” Ward said of Moore. “So that’s why I’m playing nickel. They’re trying to get their best 11 on the field.”

When asked if he considers himself one of the 49ers’ best 11, Ward answered, “I don’t know, but I was on the field.”

Jimmy Garoppolo takes 'good step' in 49ers' preseason win over Chiefs

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USATSI

Jimmy Garoppolo takes 'good step' in 49ers' preseason win over Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan vowed to keep Jimmy Garoppolo in Saturday night’s preseason game long enough for the quarterback to show he could get the offense into a rhythm.

That’s exactly what happened. 

“It was definitely better than the week before, and that would have been hard not to do,” Shanahan said. “It was cool that they got to stay out there longer, get into a little bit of a rhythm.”

Garoppolo did his best to not pay attention to negative publicity after his unproductive 11 snaps Monday night in Denver, and he ended up playing 37 snaps with the first-team offense in Saturday’s 27-17 win over the Chiefs. 

“You have to ignore it and just go play football,” Garoppolo said. “I thought it was a good step coming back here to K.C., the place where it all started. Just to get that out of the way, it’s another step in the right direction.” 

During pregame, Garoppolo even went to the exact spot at Arrowhead Stadium where he tore his ACL last season to reflect on what he’s gone through since the injury happened. 

“Pregame, I wanted to check on the spot,” Garoppolo said. “Once I did that, it was over with, time to move on.

“A lot has happened in the year since then. I don’t know, I just thought it’d be good to go back there and remember everything I’ve gone through.” 

That moment might have been just what the quarterback needed. Over five separate drives, Garoppolo threw to 10 different receivers, and completed 14 of his 20 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown, giving him a 116.2 rating. Garoppolo’s longest throw was a 33-yarder to Richie James in the first quarter.

“It was good,” Garoppolo said. “It was a lot different than last week. Like I said, once you get the first first down, then you start to get into a rhythm. The run game was looking real good. I barely got touched except for the one sack, but the line blocked tremendously upfront. So, that makes everything a lot easier.” 

Shanahan explained that the progress from Garoppolo’s first game back to his second is natural. 

“It’s not a big surprise when a guy is out for a long time, especially coming off an ACL,” Shanahan said. “That’s just how football goes sometimes, especially in the preseason.

”Last week wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked. But it definitely did look that bad live. Today, everyone was on the page a little bit better.”

Shanahan reported that Garoppolo was relatively even-keeled throughout the week, but the coach did see a little emotion out of his signal-caller. 

“A little bit,” Shanahan said. “Jimmy does get amped up sometimes, which I think can be a quality. It’s definitely a quality at times. Sometimes when it’s hard to focus, you have to bring them down a little bit, so you deal with that ebb and flow in games and throughout the week, throughout the season.” 

[RELATED: What we learned about 49ers in preseason win vs. Chiefs]

Garoppolo’s productivity set the pace for the rest of the 49ers’ offense, which managed 23 first downs and 381 total yards over 68 total plays.

The next time Garoppolo will see live game action is Week 1 at Tampa Bay, as he’s expected to sit out next week’s preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers.