Back in the spring, Zane Beadles was a bit of a punch line. The joke: the 49ers have more than $40 million in salary cap space and the only free agent they’ve signed is guard Zane Beadles!
The 49ers’ frugality in free agency – especially given their 1-12 record – remains worthy of mocking, but their signing of Beadles has turned out to be money well spent. After inking him to a three-year, $11.75 million deal in May, Beadles has started all 13 games, including the most recent one at left tackle.
“He did a really good job, especially never having played the position before,” said incumbent left tackle Joe Staley, who missed last Sunday’s game against the Jets with a hamstring strain and is doubtful for this Sunday’s game in Atlanta.
“He can play all across the line,” Staley said. “The thing I appreciate about him is that he comes to work every day. He’s a knowledgeable guy, a smart guy. He’s the type of player who you want to have around.”
Beadles, 30, never had played left tackle in the NFL, but he did so at the University of Utah eight years ago. Versatility is one of his strengths and why he was a worthy acquisition. He can play every spot along the offensive line, including center, although he said he hasn’t had to take any practice snaps at that spot yet.
The scouting service Pro Football Focus doesn’t give him a very high grade, ranking Beadles 67th out of 79 guards. His run blocking, due to the 49ers ranking fourth in the NFL in rushing, has been better than his pass protection.
Beadles fared well against the Jets’ big, powerful defensive line in Week 14. Against Atlanta, he’ll have to deal with a speedier unit that includes veteran Dwight Freeney and Vic Beasley, who is tied for the league lead in sacks with Denver’s Von Miller with 13 1/2 .
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, and playing on the road, it’s going to be loud,” Beadles said. “That adds a whole other level of things to it. It’s not going to be an easy test, but it is a test and we’re going to go out and do our best.”
Smith won’t travel – Wide receiver Torrey Smith (concussion) is out for Sunday’s game against the Falcons and will not fly to Atlanta with the team.
Smith lost consciousness when his head slammed to the ground in the third quarter against the Jets. The veteran receiver said Thursday he was feeling better but that he can’t remember much of what happened after receiving the play call on the snap on which he was injured.
Rookie Aaron Burbridge started the last time Smith missed a game in Week 11, but Chris Harper ended playing more snaps (34) in that contest than Burbridge. Harper also got most of the snaps after Smith left in last Sunday’s game.
Burbridge (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice. So were quarterback Colin Kaepernick (neck), who appeared on the injury report on Thursday, and defensive lineman Quinton Dial (elbow), who missed two of the team’s past three games.
McDonald’s deal – Details have emerged on tight end Vance McDonald’s five-year contract extension. He received a $7 million signing bonus and will have a $2.1 million guaranteed base salary next year. The rest of the contract is guaranteed for injury only and the team can part ways with him before April 1 with little consequence beginning in 2018.