MNF will spread spot­light

Buck­ner, Foster can take ad­van­tage of big stage vs. Pack­ers

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Cam In­man cin­man@ ba­yare­anews­group.com

SANTA CLARA >> Richard Sher­man has long been one of the NFL’s house­hold names, and that name usu­ally in­cited a cuss word or two in the house­hold of 49ers fans un­til his ar­rival from Seat­tle this year. Sher­man is now the face of a 49ers fran­chise, one still wal­low­ing in the losses of of­fen­sive stars Jimmy Garop­polo and Jer­ick McKin­non.

But what about DeFor­est Buck­ner or Reuben Foster? First-round draft picks in 2016 and ‘17, they’re sup­pos­edly tick­eted for star­dom. Mon­day night’s stage in Green Bay af­fords them a chance to cap­ture the spot­light in the 49ers’ up­set bid.

“I see where you’re go­ing with that,” Foster said. “I like all the games, re­ally, no mat­ter if we’re un­der­dogs or not.”

Whereas ESPN on Mon­day sin­gled out Sher­man to pro­mote the matchup against Aaron Rodgers, Sher­man on Fri­day pro­moted the worth of Buck­ner and Foster.

“They’re in­cred­i­bly dis­rup­tive,” Sher­man said. “I mean, Reuben pops out on tape with his speed, his en­ergy, and the tenac­ity in which he tack­les with. He runs through peo­ple.

“With Buck­ner, it’s just chaos on the line,” Sher­man con­tin­ued. “I’m sure of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors and O-line coaches know where he is at all times, be­cause he can elim­i­nate a play, he can dis­rupt a play any time.”

Buck­ner’s 31/2 sacks and eight quar­ter­back hits are the most among the 49ers’ ane­mic pass rush. He’s also their sec­ond-lead­ing tack­ler be­hind linebacker Fred Warner.

“This league, es­pe­cially for Dline­men, is sack driven but I try to make my game all over, sacks, pres­sures, TFLs (tack­les for losses)

or tack­les in the run game,” Buck­ner said. “I’m try­ing to be a com­plete player.”

Does the Mon­day night stage add in­cen­tive? “Ev­ery week is a great op­por­tu­nity for me, and it doesn’t mat­ter if it’s Mon­day night or Sun­day af­ter­noon,” Buck­ner an­swered.

This will be Foster’s prime-time de­but, hav­ing missed last year’s only such game with an an­kle in­jury in Week 3 against the Rams. He ex­pects the Lam­beau Field at­mo­sphere to be “like play­ing a ri­valry game.”

While Sher­man’s sage words can both hype up or steady the de­fense, he’s also men­tor­ing Foster, who has a neigh­bor­ing locker. “Him just pulling me to the side, I know I have to lis­ten,” Foster said, “be­cause he’s in the shoes I want to be in.”

As for an­other first-round pick on de­fense, 2017 top choice Solomon Thomas re­mains a si­t­u­a­tional pass rusher, one who de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Robert Saleh is re­luc­tant to use in­side on run downs. “To put him in there to take on dou­ble teams, to take on 600 pounds of peo­ple, it’s very, very bruis­ing in there,” Saleh said.

• Colin Kaeper­nick, whose 49ers ten­ure in­cluded two play­off wins over Green Bay and a sea­son-open­ing vic­tory at Lam­beau Field, ini­tially was ex­cluded from a photo gallery on the 49ers web­site in­tended to rekin­dle great mem­o­ries of their ri­valry with the Pack­ers.

“Not some­thing I’m proud of. It’s a glar­ing omis­sion, and we’re work­ing to get it fixed,” gen­eral man­ager John Lynch said on KNBR 680-AM. Two pic­tures of Kaeper­nick were added to the mix later, and the team noted its for­mer quar­ter­back of­ten ap­peared in the photo galleries last sea­son, even af­ter he left the team in March.

The 49ers is­sued a state­ment ac­knowl­edg­ing his “omis­sion” by what’s be­lieved to be a lower-level staffer. “Un­for­tu­nately there were a hand­ful of ob­vi­ous misses in this gallery posted by our web­site team, and we ap­pre­ci­ate them be­ing brought to our at­ten­tion,” the state­ment said. “The 49ers or­ga­ni­za­tion has tremen­dous re­spect and grat­i­tude for the con­tri­bu­tions Colin made to our team over the years.”

• Run­ning back Matt Breida (an­kle) missed his sec­ond straight prac­tice, and the 49ers also re­mained without wide re­ceivers Pierre Garçon (shoul­der, knee), Trent Tay­lor (back) and Dante Pet­tis (knee). If those three wide­outs can’t play, the 49ers might need to call up Steven Dun­bar from the prac­tice squad if they need a fifth re­ceiver.

Of­fen­sive line­men Joe Sta­ley, We­ston Rich­burg and Mike Per­son all re­turned to prac­tice as they bat­tle knee in­juries.

• Play­ers said that coach Kyle Shana­han and Lynch are im­plor­ing them to feel a sense of ur­gency this game. They’ve been told to seize this op­por­tu­nity to up­set the Pack­ers and si­lence skep­tics who’ve noted their bar­rage of in­juries and the fact they just lost their prime-time slot Oct. 21 against the Rams.

Tight end George Kit­tle said of the 49ers’ doubters: “(Ex­ple­tive) them. We’re go­ing to do ev­ery­thing we can to show up and we’re go­ing to ball out,”

• Nickel back K’Waun Wil­liams is now in the same com­pany as Pack­ers pass rusher Clay Matthews, this year’s poster boy for ques­tion­able rough­ing-the-passer penal­ties. Wil­liams got fined for his fourth-quar­ter, rough­ing-the-passer penalty in which he brushed into Josh Rosen’s shoul­der af­ter jump­ing to de­fend a pass on a blitz. The first-time of­fense for that penalty: $20,054. Wil­liams is ap­peal­ing.

“I guess it’s the new league and we’ve got to find ways to adapt,” said Wil­liams, who in­deed adapted the next time he blitzed and didn’t jump or col­lide with Rosen.

• Aaron Rodgers fully par­tic­i­pated in Fri­day’s prac­tice af­ter sit­ting out Thurs­day’s ses­sion be­cause of a knee in­jury he sus­tained in the sea­son opener. “He doesn’t seem to care about the bad knee or any­thing,” Sher­man said. “He still takes his time. If he wants to take a shot down field, he takes it.”

That means the 49ers de­fense must be pre­pared to run longer and stay in cov­er­age. “You have to be ready for the back­yard foot­ball,” Sher­man added. “He’s a great passer and can get the ball any­where. He can be on his back foot and throw it 75 yards if that’s what he re­ally wants to do.”

Rodgers may have to do more scram­bling Mon­day. Pack­ers start­ing right tackle Bryan Bu­laga (knee) showed up on Fri­day’s in­jury re­port, as did his backup, Ja­son Spriggs (an­kle).

RANDY VAZQUEZ — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

49ers de­fen­sive line­man DeFor­est Buck­ner leads the team with 3 1⁄2 sacks and eight quar­ter­back hits and is sec­ond in tack­les.

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