STANFORD -- Like many of their peers, the Stanford coaches typically spend several days each offseason visiting NFL staffs to exchange ideas and talk philosophy.

In 2013, for instance, the offensive coaches headed to Atlanta while the defensive staff went to Pittsburgh to learn from legendary coordinator Dick LeBeau, creator of the zone blitz.

This year, Stanford didn't spend nearly as much on airfare. The offensive staff stayed home because of busy schedules, while defensive coordinator Lance Anderson and his assistants made the short trip to 4949 Centennial Dr. in Santa Clara.

"We run the same stuff they do," Anderson said. "Really, there's not a better place to go."

49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio worked with Anderson during Fangio's only season at Stanford, in 2010. The system he installed -- it's loaded with well-disguised blitzes and stunts -- remained in use during Derek Mason's three years in charge of the Cardinal defense.

When Anderson was promoted in January, he stuck to the script, albeit with tweaks to suit the current roster. He spent time with Fangio to determine whether the 49ers were using techniques or plays that could help the Cardinal bolster its existing playbook.

"We've incorporated a handful of new calls," Anderson said. "It's been good for us. We've gone through our base stuff, and now we're adding some new things."


Advertisement

  • The Cardinal could learn late this week if Ty Montgomery (offseason shoulder surgery) will be available for the Aug. 30 season opener against UC Davis.

    The senior is Stanford's top returning receiver and an All-America kick returner.

    Asked if Montgomery could miss the Week 2 showdown against USC, Cardinal coach David Shaw said: "The way he's practicing right now, I would hope not. But those aren't football coaches' discussions. Those are doctors discussions."

  • The next two days should bring clarity to the depth chart. Stanford is searching for starters at several positions, including safety and inside linebacker.

    "We're going to put guys in some tough situations," Shaw said. "I'd love for the film to tell us what to do. I don't want to guess."

  • The tailback competition is expected to last into next week and throughout the season, with five players in the mix.

    Kelsey Young, who appeared to have a slight edge for the starting job, has missed several practices with an ankle injury but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

    Barry Sanders, Ricky Seale, Christian McCaffrey and Remound Wright are also candidates for the rotation, in whatever form it ultimately takes.

    "We're all anxious to see what happens," Sanders said. "Coach has challenged us all to be better pass protectors."

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.