49ers

Snap count: Ponder has fun again in debut with 49ers

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Snap count: Ponder has fun again in debut with 49ers

DENVER – Christian Ponder’s confidence took a beating in Minnesota and he quickly went from expected franchise quarterback to the scrap heap.

On Saturday night, in just his fourth full day with the 49ers, he played more than any of the team’s other quarterbacks in a 31-24 victory over the Denver Broncos in the second exhibition game for both teams.

Not only did Ponder play a lot, he played well. Ponder was on the field for the 49ers’ final 24 snaps and led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.

“It was fun,” Ponder said. “I haven’t had that much fun on a football field in a long time. It was enjoyable, and it was great that we won the game. I’m glad it went well for us.”

Ponder’s 22-yard touchdown run gave the 49ers a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter. He provided a little insurance with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dres Anderson less than four minutes later.

Ponder completed seven of his eight pass attempts for 86 yards with a spiffy passer rating of 151.0.

After spending four seasons with the Vikings, he went to training camp last year with the Raiders before being cut. He spent two weeks last year on the Broncos’ roster but did not see any game action.

The 49ers signed him on Tuesday to replace veteran quarterback Thad Lewis, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Ponder was in the process of painting his house in Phoenix when the 49ers called.

“I think what helped me the most was stepping away for a year,” Ponder said. “I think my confidence hurt toward the end of my years in Minnesota, and I think that affected my game. I took a step back and took a breather and came back with a different approach.

“I worked on things mechanically in the offseason, and was building my confidence there. And to go out, had the mindset that I just wanted to go out and have fun. I didn’t have too much fun playing the last few years, so it was great to go out and have fun again.”

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Ponder said the 49ers had installed 40 plays as part of the team’s offensive plan for Saturday’s game. Ponder entered the game with knowledge of about half of those plays. He added new plays to his arsenal as the game went on.

“The one that he threw the touchdown on, we just went over with him, he never ran it,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. “He threw it up to Dres for the touchdown.

“They just knew what they were doing, just trying to gang up on the run game, putting nine guys in the box so we have to have some force on the play action. I thought for Christian just getting here and taking snaps on Wednesday to perform like he did was kind of refreshing.”

Here’s how the 49ers divided their playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

Offense
36 -- C Marcus Martin, LG Joshua Garnett, RT Anthony Davis, LT Erik Pears
31 -- WR Jerome Simpson
25 -- WR Aaron Burbridge
24 -- QB Christian Ponder, TE Je’Ron Hamm
21 -- QB Jeff Driskel, TE Rory Anderson
20 -- RG Ian Silberman
19 -- WR DeAndrew White
18 -- TE Blake Bell
16 -- QB Blaine Gabbert, RT Trent Brown, LT Joe Staley, C Daniel Kilgore, LG Zane Beadles, RG Andrew Tiller, RG Brandon Thomas, RB Kelvin Taylor
15 -- WR Torrey Smith, WR DiAndre Campbell, TE Bruce Miller
13 -- RB Carlos Hyde
12 -- RB Mike Davis, RB DuJuan Harris, WR Quinton Patton
11 -- TE Garrett Celek, WR Dres Anderson, WR Devon Cajuste
10 -- TE Vance McDonald
9 -- T John Theus, G Fahn Cooper, C Alex Balducci, G Blake Muir
8 -- RB Kendall Gaskins
6 -- WR Bryce Treggs, T Colin Kelly
3 -- T Norman Price

Defense
53 -- S Marcus Cromartie
51 -- DL Ronald Blair
49 -- CB Rashard Robinson
46 -- CB Kenneth Acker
44 -- CB Dontae Johnson, OLB Marcus Rush
43 -- DL Demetrius Cherry
41 -- LB Shayne Skov
39 -- DL B.J. McBryde, DL Garrison Smith
35 -- OLB Corey Lemonier, CB Chris Davis
34 -- LB Michael Wilhoite
32 -- LB Nick Bellore
30 -- OLB Jason Fanaika
27 -- S Jaquiski Tartt, CB Keith Reaser, OLB Tank Carradine
26 -- CB Prince Charles Iworah
23 -- OLB Ahmad Brooks
22 -- S Eric Reid, S Antoine Bethea, LB NaVorro Bowman, CB Tramaine Brock, LB Ray-Ray Armstrong, CB Jimmie Ward, CB Cleveland Wallace, DL Darren Lake
20 -- NT Mike Purcell, LB Eli Harold, S Jered Bell, LB Wynton McManis
19-- LB Gerald Hodges
17 -- DL Quinton Dial
8 -- DL Tony Jerod-Eddie

Special teams
15 -- Acker
14 -- Campbell
13 -- P Bradley Pinion
12 -- Lemonier
11 -- LS Kyle Nelson, Gaskins, Iworah
10 -- Miller, J.Bell
9 -- Johnson, Fanaika
8 -- Anderson, Cromartie, Wilhoite, Bellore, Tartt, Armstrong
7 -- R.Anderson, M.Davis, Rush, Skov, Reaser, McManis
6 -- White, B.Bell, Harris, Hodges
5 -- K John Lunsford, Patton, Harold
4 -- McDonald, Theus, Price, Blair, Robinson, C.Davis, Ward, Wallace
3 -- K Phil Dawson, Martin, Burbridge, Cajuste, Celek, Treggs, Cherry, Purcell, Hodges
2 -- Garnett, A.Davis, Silberman, Brown, Thomas, Taylor, Staley, Kilgore, Beadles, Tiller, Cooper, Balducci, McBryde, Brooks, Lake, Reid, Bethea, Bowman, Brock
1 -- Muir, Smith, Carradine, Jerod-Eddie

Did not play -- QB Colin Kaepernick (arm), RB Shaun Draughn (ribs), WR Bruce Ellington (ankle), WR DeAndre Smelter (hamstring), WR Eric Rogers (knee), CB Will Redmond (knee), DB L.J. McCray (knee), LB Aaron Lynch (eye), DL Glenn Dorsey (knee), DL Arik Armstead (shoulder), DL DeForest Buckner (leg).

49ers Mailbag: New defensive line coach could pave way for top free agent

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49ers Mailbag: New defensive line coach could pave way for top free agent

The revamped 49ers coaching staff is taking shape with the comings of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and secondary coach Joe Woods to replace fired Jeff Zgonina and Jeff Hafley, who took a co-defensive coordinator position at Ohio State.

Quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello, the new offensive coordinator for Vic Fangio’s Denver Broncos, will likely be replaced with a shift of either Mike LaFleur or Mike McDaniel to a new title. The 49ers also have a couple other positions to fill, as coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch look to limit the number of preventable injuries.

Today, we solicit questions from our readers as the 49ers staff readies to get back to work next week as coaches of the South squad at the annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

How many FAs pass rushers will be signed in the off-season? (@chriscream)
The 49ers will sign one free-agent pass rusher who will be assured a spot on the 53-man roster. They might add another veteran along the lines of Jeremiah Attaochu of last year -- a player who would have to compete for a spot and win his way onto the team.

The 49ers will have some options in free agency, depending on which players are locked up via the franchise tag or contract extensions.

With the addition of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, formerly of the Detroit Lions, the 49ers would have to be viewed as a favorite to land edge rusher Ziggy Ansah. In the past, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has also spoken highly of Dante Fowler Jr. Those two presumptive free agents could be attractive as upgrades.

The 49ers will set out to add a starter-caliber edge rusher in free agency, and come back with another impactful pass rusher in the draft.

If the 49ers plan to take an edge rusher at #2, do they look to move someone out of the current edge group in a trade and accumulate another pick? Another DE makes that room quite crowded. Does Thomas make a full time move inside next to DeFo? (@HausVonSchlegel)
I don’t know that any spare parts they have at defensive end would have much trade value. More than likely, the 49ers would hold onto everyone to cover their . . . uh . . . bases in case they have to account for injuries down the road. With the addition of a true pass-rush end, Solomon Thomas would be likely moved inside next to DeForest Buckner. But Thomas is not a nose tackle, so that anticipated move would probably not occur on most base downs.

Do you think that 49ers will try to give Armstead a new contract? Like 3-4 year with $6-$7 million yearly? (@Andersen49ers)
Right now, Armstead is on the books for $9 million for next season. There is no reason for him to take less money than that. If the 49ers do not want to devote that money to him for one year, they would have to cut him prior to the start of the new league year. Then Armstead would be a free agent and able to negotiate the best contract possible with any team in the NFL. More than likely, Armstead will play out this season on the fifth-year option, just like Jimmie Ward did in 2018.

And speaking of Jimmie Ward. . .

Fans don’t seem to care much for Jimmie Ward, however the coaches always talk him up. What, as fans are we missing that merits SF trying to retain his services considering he’s always hurt. (@LoMed1978)
Every coaching staff that’s had Ward – and there have been a few -- has really liked him because of his versatility and his toughness. Fans might scoff when they hear “toughness,” because of the injuries. Maybe “fearless” is the better description. The guy plays hard. Maybe he plays too hard. But that’s something coaches love.

And speaking of injuries . . .

Will cleaning out the training staff actually have an effect on the amount of injuries, or is it just about making moves because someone needs to take the fall? (@bathebay)
Injuries became such a huge talking point of the past two seasons, the 49ers obviously felt as if something had to be done. Will the changes help? The 49ers feel as if they needed to do something – so it can’t hurt. Ray Wright is out as strength and conditioning coach, and Jeff Ferguson was let go as the team’s athletic trainer. In my opinion, many of the football injuries that occur are unavoidable. The risk of injuries can be reduced, but they certainly cannot be eliminated. Bad luck plays into it, too. My prediction is the 49ers will sustain fewer injuries in 2019, and people will point to these changes – whether the staff moves actually played a factor or not.

What is one thing you miss about going to a game at Candlestick vs a game at Levi's? (@Random49ers)
I liked typing “Candlestick Park” more than I like typing “Levi’s Stadium.”

2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. has 49ers picking Josh Allen at No. 2

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2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. has 49ers picking Josh Allen at No. 2

Kyle Shanahan and the rest of his 49ers coaching staff won't have the opportunity of working with edge rusher Josh Allen in the Senior Bowl anymore, but that doesn't matter to ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. 

In his first mock draft of 2019, Kiper has the 49ers selecting Allen with the No. 2 overall pick. Here's why he believes the former Kentucky Wildcat is the perfect fit for San Francisco: 

If you're talking about pure pass-rushing ability, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Allen is right up there with [Nick] Bosa.

The 49ers selected defensive linemen in three straight years from 2015 to 2017 -- Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas -- but none of those players get after the quarterback like Allen, who can play outside linebacker as well.

As a senior, Allen had 17 sacks, including three in a dominant bowl game performance against Penn State.

In the 2018 regular season, the 49ers ranked 15th in the NFL with 37 sacks, but 12 of those came from Buckner.

Allen was a consensus All-America selection, as well as the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year, Chuck Bednarik Award winner, and Bronko Nagurski Award winner. He was also chosen as the winner of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy, which takes into account on-field and off-field excellence.