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Golden Nuggets: Richard Hightower still has confidence in Trenton Cannon as a kick returner

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Thursday, October 7, 2021

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The 49ers have a decision to make at quarterback this Sunday, or do they? It seems fairly obvious given the performances of each quarterback. What we discussed all summer has come to fruition.

Kyle Shanahan discusses 49ers’ Stephon Gilmore interest after Panthers trade

But parting with a Day 3 pick in exchange for a Pro Bowl cornerback is a price worth paying. The Panthers will take on the remainder of Gilmore’s 2021 salary, and Carolina GM Scott Fitterer told reporters there are no immediate plans to sign Gilmore to a longer deal.

The 49ers, on the other end, are comfortable sticking with a cornerbacks group of Emmanuel Moseley, Josh Norman, Dre Kirkpatrick, Deommodore Lenoir, Ambry Thomas and Buster Skrine. Nickelback K’Waun Williams is expected to be out for a few weeks with a calf strain.

49ers overreactions: Does Jimmy G over Lance make sense?

But, right now, Shanahan has indicated he thinks it’s in the best interest of the team and Lance to continue to practice and get a few game snaps to experience success, gain confidence and, ultimately, have a greater chance of success when the switch becomes permanent.

You can accuse Shanahan of being hard-headed with a lot of this stuff, and you would not be wrong. There is probably one thing that is inexcusable for him. If he draws up a concept against different coverages, he expects the ball to immediately go where it is designed to go. My guess is that Lance is nowhere near automatic with that aspect of the team’s offense, and Shanahan would not even consider making a switch until Lance gets much closer to Garoppolo in just being able to execute the plan.

Jimmy G in pain, but he’s not ruling out playing vs. Cardinals

Shanahan discussed the challenge of game-planning for Lance and Garoppolo’s different skill sets, but the 49ers coach also noted the offense is required to do much of the same thing, no matter who’s under center. Shanahan still is hopeful Garoppolo will be available for Sunday.

“It’s better today, which is good news,” Shanahan said. “Not enough to let him go but also not enough to rule him out. Doctors say give him another day, he’s got a chance, so I’m still holding out for that.”

If he does play Sunday, Garoppolo knows it will be a physical challenge.

“I’d be battling through it, probably,” Garoppolo said. “We will take it day by day. It hurts, but it is what it is at this point. I’m not going to put anything in stone yet.”

49ers Notebook: Garoppolo updates, Lance outlook and Stephon Gilmore

  • Trenton Cannon, who was brought in to play special teams, had a horrific day on special teams. Instead of downing a punt inside the five, he barrel-rolled into the end zone with it for a touchback. He fumbled a kickoff return twice, with the second fumble being recovered by Seattle and turning into back-to-back touchdowns. Then, he tried to let the ensuing kickoff go into the end zone for a touchback, but it bounced back at around the two-yard line and he had to scoop it up; he was tackled at the 11-yard line.
  • Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower defended Cannon on Wednesday, saying that there will be competition at the kickoff return spot, but that, “We still have confidence in Cannon” and added, “I’m looking forward to seeing that kid play. I love him. I really do.”

Deebo Samuel Is Carrying The San Francisco 49ers’ Offense

The 49ers are fifth in offensive Expected Points Added per play, according to Ben Baldwin of The Athletic, and rank fourth in dropback EPA.

Samuel’s contributions to San Francisco’s efficiency in that regard cannot be overstated.

Pass targets to Samuel in the season-opening win over the Detroit Lions averaged 0.89 EPA per play. That tailed off 0.51 in the Week 2 win over the Philadelphia Eagles and 0.36 in the loss to the Green Bay Packers, but Samuel led all 49ers who had multiple pass targets in the defeat to Seattle with 0.86 EPA per play.