Brian Hoyer played seven snaps against Kansas City last week. Kyle Shanahan is hoping for perhaps three times that amount Saturday against the Denver Broncos.
“And in the third game you play them a little bit more,” Shanahan said. “So it’s somewhere between the first game and the third game is what we’d like. You never know how the drives are going to go. But I’m hoping to get them out there for about 20 plays.”
Rookie Reuben Foster is dealing with a minor shoulder injury, but the 49ers expect him to play. If he does, he’ll make his second straight start at weak-side linebacker. Fellow first-round pick Solomon Thomas figures to play a lot, especially with another top lineman, DeForest Buckner, out with an ankle injury.
Some other story lines:
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Beathard the backup. Third-round pick C.J. Beathard was one of the standouts last week against the Chiefs. The rookie quarterback was 7-for-11 for 101 yards, two touchdowns, a two-point conversion and a game-best 133 passer rating. He and Matt Barkley have been alternating with the second-string unit, and this time it will be Beathard who is first off the bench to relieve Hoyer. That will allow him to operate behind a better offensive line and to test himself against better competition.
Bounce back for Robinson. Last week Rashard Robinson struggled in coverage against Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, one of the fastest and shiftiest receivers in the league. Saturday’s game brings some bigger-bodied receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Jordan Taylor, who were well-targeted in the teams’ practices this week. (The Broncos’ Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer are both iffy with minor injuries.) How will Robinson bounce back? This also is the first game in which the 49ers’ top two cornerbacks, Robinson and Dontae Johnson, will be on the field together.
Rookie watch. Last week’s game was a good one for the 49ers’ rookie class, including undrafted players like safety Lorenzo Jerome and running back Matt Breida. A couple of others have opportunities to shine this week. Sixth-round pick Pita Taumoepenu will get plenty of snaps with fellow defensive end Aaron Lynch nursing a sprained ankle. Tight end George Kittle also is in line to play after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury.