49ers

Veteran additions increase competition on 49ers' O-line

Veteran additions increase competition on 49ers' O-line

SANTA CLARA -- In general manager John Lynch’s first draft, the 49ers broke a streak of seven consecutive years in which the club selected at least one offensive lineman. In those seven years, the 49ers drafted 14 offensive linemen.

Instead, the 49ers turned to the veteran market to increase competition and depth along the offensive line.

“There really is a lot of competition,” 49ers offensive line coach John Benton said. “We came in trying to create it, and it’s turning out that way, regardless. We got competition going on at every spot, and at every level of the group, as well.”

The 49ers return their primary starters from last season: left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Zane Beadles, center Daniel Kilgore, right guard Joshua Garnett and right tackle Trent Brown.

Then, the 49ers added four offensive linemen with significant starting experience: center/guard Jeremy Zuttah (Tampa Bay/Baltimore), guard Brandon Fusco (Minnesota), center Tim Barnes (Rams) and tackle Garry Gilliam (Seattle).

Zuttah and Barnes are in competition with Kilgore. Zuttah, who has been held out of practices due to a lingering hamstring condition, also has significant experience at guard. The 49ers will have to ultimately determine whether the team’s line is stronger with Zuttah working at center or one of the guard spots.

“We’re going to have to do that at some point,” Benton said. “I’m not too concerned with ‘when’ at this point. Obviously, Jeremy Zuttah hasn’t been able to practice, so (we’re) maybe not getting the same rotation we were hoping to this point. But the way practice is now – without pads, without it really being ‘real football’ – we’re probably going to have to wait until training camp anyway to see that go.”

Staley is the only player along the offensive line that appears completely set as a starter. There is some level of intrigue at every other position, as Benton tries to figure out which sides of the line are the best fits for Garnett and Fusco.

“One of the things that excited us about bringing in Brandon Fusco and Tim Barnes, just to add to that (competition),” Benton said. “(They are) guys who’ve had quality careers to date and know what it takes in this league and add to the mix from a competition standpoint. It could only make us all better.

“I think it’ll be a great competition, and we’ll end up better off for it, regardless.”

49ers snap count: Matt Breida gets start, more playing time

49ers snap count: Matt Breida gets start, more playing time

Although he exited the game in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury, 49ers running back Matt Breida returned to the game.

Not only did Breida continue to rotate with veteran running back Alfred Morris, for the first time this season he saw more playing time. Breida, who made his second start of the season, played 29 snaps, while more was on the field for 23 offensive plays.

Breida had five carries for 29 yards before leaving the game late in the first half.

He came back in the third quarter and immediately produced a 21-yard run. Breida finished the game with 90 yards on 10 rushing attempts. He also caught three passes for 27 yards.

Entering the Monday night game, Breida is tied for the NFL lead with Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott with 274 rushing yards on the season. Breida has carried the ball 32 times this season, while Elliott has attempted 48 runs.

The 49ers were down 35-7 in the second quarter, but scored 17 unanswered points to tighten the margin of defeat.

“We stayed with the same plan,” Breida said. “We just have to play better in the second half is what it comes down to. We can’t make mental mistakes.”

Breida’s 8.6 yards per carry is the best in the NFL, but he’s been even more effective on runs outside the tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. He has 11 outside runs for 138 yards, a 12.5 yards average.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk has emerged as the team's third-down back. Juszczyk was the lone third-down back on six of the 49ers' eight plays of third and 3 or longer, according to PFF. Juszczyk played 53 snaps in the game.

Rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey struggled in pass protection. He allowed a sack and three hurries, according to PFF.

On defense, the 49ers had an astounding 17 missed tackles, according to PFF. The biggest culprits were Reuben Foster and Fred Warner, who missed six and four tackles, respectively. Foster missed just 10 tackles all of his rookie season.

Injuries on defense meant that 18 different players were on the field for 20 or more snaps. Among the 49ers who saw their first significant action of the season on defense were safety Antone Exum (76 snaps), linebacker Reuben Foster (75), cornerback Jimmie Ward (71), safety D.J. Reed (52) and linebacker Malcolm Smith (34),

Here are the total numbers of snaps of every 49ers player who saw action on Sunday:

Offense

Total offensive snaps: 68
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 67, C.J. Beathard 1
Running back – Kyle Juszczyk 53, Matt Breida 29, Alfred Morris 23, Raheem Mostert 3
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 52, Marquise Goodwin 42, Trent Taylor 25, Dante Pettis 25, Kendrick Bourne 15
Tight end – George Kittle 54, Garrett Celek 19
Offensive line – Joe Staley 68, Mike McGlinchey 68, Laken Tomlinson 68, Weston Richburg 68, Mike Person 61, Erik Magnuson 7

Defense

Total defensive snaps: 76
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 55, Arik Armstead 49, Solomon Thomas 44, Cassius Marsh 40, Earl Mitchell 33, Ronald Blair 29, D.J. Jones 22, Sheldon Day 20
Linebacker – Fred Warner 76, Reuben Foster 75, Malcolm Smith 34, Elijah Lee 1
Defensive back – Antone Exum 76, Jimmie Ward 71, K’Waun Williams 54, D.J. Reed 52, Ahkello Witherspoon 40, Richard Sherman 36, Adrian Colbert 25, Tarvarius Moore 5

Special teams

Total special teams plays: 28
Mark Nzeocha 24, Lee 24, Moore 23, Exum 18, Reed 18, Mostert 17, Celek 15, Tyvis Powell 14, Cole Wick 14, Warner 14, Bradley Pinion 13, Witherspoon 12, Marsh 11, Buckner 10, Ward 9, Kyle Nelson 8, Bourne 6, Mitchell 6, Thomas 5, Robbie Gould 4, Garry Gilliam 4, Staley 4, McGlinchey 4, Tomlinson 4, Richburg 4, Juszczyk 4, Taylor 4, Colbert 4, Breida 3, Pettis 2, Armstead 1

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Reports: Richard Sherman out a few weeks with mild calf strain

Reports: Richard Sherman out a few weeks with mild calf strain

The 49ers won't have veteran cornerback Richard Sherman's services for a few weeks.

NFL Network and ESPN reported Monday that an MRI revealed Sherman has a mild calf strain, and he'll be out 2 to 3 weeks.

Sherman suffered the injury to his left calf late in the first half of Sunday's loss to the Chiefs. Earlier in the week, he dealt with a heel issue that kept him out of practice.

Sherman required assistance from two staff members to leave the field at halftime. He limped under his own power back onto the 49ers’ sideline at the start of the second half and back to the locker room after the game.

Sherman, who clearly was disappointed, did not speak to reporters after the game as he left the team’s locker room to depart Arrowhead Stadium for the return flight to the Bay Area.

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