MNF will spread spotlight
Buckner, Foster can take advantage of big stage vs. Packers
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).
49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner leads the team with 3 1⁄2 sacks and eight quarterback hits and is second in tackles.