49ers' defense responds after big plays by Shanahan's offense in minicamp

49ers' defense responds after big plays by Shanahan's offense in minicamp

SANTA CLARA – Before the 49ers hit the practice field on Tuesday, safety Eric Reid talked about how offensive play-caller Kyle Shanahan is always trying to set up the defense to surrender a big play.

The use of the run game to lay the groundwork for a big play through the air became apparent Tuesday during the first day of the team’s mandatory minicamp.

After run plays for Carlos Hyde and Tim Hightower, 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer used a play fake to and coax a blown assignment in the secondary, allowing rookie tight end George Kittle to break free for a 60-yard touchdown.

A short time later, Hoyer struck down the field again, this time with a pass that traveled 45 yards in the air for speedster Marquise Goodwin, who beat the coverage of cornerback Keith Reaser and safety Jimmie Ward for a touchdown.

“When you're moving the ball and scoring points, and hitting stuff in rhythm people can feel it,” said Shanahan, the team's head coach who calls in the plays to the quarterback. “It's usually contagious and it gets going. Then usually you go in and human nature, you feel good about yourself and the other team doesn't and they come out and kick your (butt) the next day.”

The 49ers’ offense did not have to wait that long to come back down to earth. That came during a red zone sequence a short time later.

The offense managed to get into the end zone just once in 10 plays, and that came from the fourth unit. Undrafted rookie quarterback Nick Mullens’ touchdown pass to undrafted tight end Cole Hikutini against the coverage against cornerback Zach Franklin.

Linebacker NaVorro Bowman collected an interception of a Hoyer pass while in coverage against Kittle in the end zone. Linebacker Malcolm Smith batted down a pass. DeForest Buckner had an interception, Aaron Lynch got a would-be sack on a C.J. Beathard pass that safety Vinnie Sunseri intercepted. Dekoda Watson had an interception, and Tank Carradine batted down a pass.

Here are other notes from the practice:

--Mike Shanahan, the Super Bowl-winning coach and father of Kyle, watched the practice session from the sideline.

--Veteran Elvis Dumervil, who agreed to a two-year contract last week, reported to the team but was held out of practice.

“I just want Elvis to come in here, learn the schemes, and really get a chance to meet everyone,” Kyle Shanahan said. “I did want to get him signed fast to get him in here, but we didn’t think getting him involved in the work and everything was important at least for now.”

--Eli Harold got first-team snaps at the Sam linebacker with Ahmad Brooks being held out of practice due to an undisclosed condition.

--Rashard Robinson did not practice. Dontae Johnson and Keith Reaser worked at the cornerback positions with the first team. Johnson broke up a pass intended for Pierre Garçon.

--Lynch had a strong day, including his second sack of the day while working with the second-team against right tackle Garry Gilliam.

--Backup quarterback Matt Barkley hit tight end Garrett Celek on a 25-yard seam route.

--Tank Carradine had a couple of quarterback pressures, along with Arik Armstead. Practice concluded with rookies Pita Taumoepenu and Jimmie Gilbert combining for pressure/sack on Beathard.

--Jeremy Zuttah, who earned a Pro Bowl trip with the Baltimore Ravens last season at center, saw action at right guard with the second-team defense. Zuttah missed a large portion of organized team activities with a hamstring strain.

--The 49ers announced the signing of quarterback C.J. Beathard to the mandatory four-year contract for a draft pick. Beathard was selected in the third round. Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, whom the 49ers selected No. 3 overall, is the only remaining unsigned 49ers draft pick.

Long supports Eagles teammate, wraps arm around him during anthem protest


Long supports Eagles teammate, wraps arm around him during anthem protest

Chris Long supported his teammate, Malcolm Jenkins, Thursday night by wrapping his left arm around Jenkins, who continued to raise his right fist in protest of racial injustice during the national anthem prior to the Eagles' preseason game against the Bills at Lincoln Financial Field.

Long's intention Thursday night was not immediately known. While he's been outspoken on Charlottesville, Virginia, he did not specify how he would conduct himself during the anthem.

Long and Jenkins both publicly criticized President Donald Trump's response to the racial tensions that resulted in the tragic violence and the death of Heather Heyer last weekend in Charlottesville, Long's hometown.

Last Sunday, Long touched on his comments by speaking to reporters, reiterating his disappointment in President Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, where white nationalists held a "Unite the Right" rally in protest of the removal of a statue honoring Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

"Some people are tired of hearing me tweet because they want me to stick to football but I like to use social media like I was a regular guy because I think I am," Long said Sunday. "I don't tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn't political. That's the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn't a political issue. This is right or wrong. I believe you're on one side or the other. For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything. And I wish there was more categorical denial from some very important people in this country who have had the opportunity to strike it down but didn't."


Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved


Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ passing game has ranked 29th or lower in each of the past four seasons.

If two practices against last year’s No. 1-ranked pass defense are any indication, the 49ers could be vastly improved under coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer.

“I think our guys were expecting to do good,” Shanahan said on Thursday after a second joint practice against the Denver Broncos in two days. “There’s a lot of stuff we can clean up. A lot of stuff we can do better. But I think our guys were happy with how they competed and, hopefully, that can continue to carry over.”

Hoyer hit more higher-percentage passes on Thursday. He teamed up with rookie Victor Bolden on his deepest completion -- down the left sideline against first-team All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris. After completing better than 80 percent of his passes against the Broncos a day earlier, Hoyer was 12 of 19 passing on Thursday.

Pierre Garçon, who figures to be Hoyer’s top target, was not as active during Thursday’s practice. But he did find himself in the middle of the action with a tussle against Harris.

Hoyer’s red-zone pass intended for slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was tipped and intercepted by safety Justin Simmons. Away from the action, Aqib Talib blocked Garçon, who retaliated by tossing him to the ground.

“That’s part of the game,” Garçon said. ‘You always expect one scuffle in joint practices. But it ended and you move on. It was nothing personal at all.”

Hoyer was especially sharp during the practices to strengthen his grasp on the team’s staring job. Meanwhile, rookie C.J. Beathard had a solid showing on Thursday. He will enter Saturday’s game after Hoyer and could play through the rest of the first half and open the third quarter.

The 49ers exited the field after their two most-significant practices feeling optimistic about where things stand.

“We did good the first day,” Garçon said. “We could’ve done better the second day. But we’re still learning each other and getting better. We still have a lot to do to get ready for the regular season, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

--Linebacker Reuben Foster wore shoulder pads and took part in all but the contact drills due to what the team described as a “mild AC joint sprain” of his right shoulder. That did not prevent Foster from getting into the middle of a skirmish that appeared to involve Broncos tackle Menelik Watson and 49ers linebacker Eli Harold.

The 49ers expect Foster to play Saturday night, Shanahan said.

--Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was pulled from practice on Thursday after experiencing soreness in his shoulder. Shanahan said Bowman's shoulder soreness is similar to what Foster experienced.

--The Broncos’ offense, which struggled to complete passes on Wednesday, made a lot more plays down the field on Thursday with Paxton Lynch at quarterback.

--Tight end Vance McDonald made an outstanding catch of a Hoyer pass at the sideline against tight coverage from safety Will Parks.

--The 49ers’ practice Thursday brought an official end to the team’s training camp. They will transition to a regular-season type of schedule next week leading up to the team’s third exhibition game, which is scheduled for Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings.

“Training camp is over, and what that means is we’re not all staying in dorms together and we’re not having night walk-throughs,” Shanahan said.