49ers key matchup No. 1: Davis vs. Wake

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49ers key matchup No. 1: Davis vs. Wake

This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Dolphins matchups to watch Sunday, 1 p.m. (CBS), at Candlestick Park.

49ers RT Anthony Davis vs. Dolphins DE Cameron Wake

Tale of the tape
Davis (76): 6-foot-5, 323 pounds, third season, Rutgers
Wake (91): 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, fourth season, Penn State

The St. Louis Rams last week were successful putting pressure on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and keeping him in the pocket.

The Rams devised a blueprint for the Miami Dolphins, and the rest of the teams on the 49ers' schedule, to follow: Keep Kaepernick contained and don't allow him the time to throw down the field.

It's a strategy Kaepernick expects to see until he and the 49ers' offense prove they can defeat it.

"Yeah, defenses are always going to try to scheme to stop you and do what they think is best," Kaepernick said. "That's something we're doing on offense, trying to scheme them up as well."

The Dolphins have a strong defensive front seven that is fully capable of pressuring Kaepernick while also making things difficult on 49ers running back Frank Gore to operate.

Kaepernick offers a unique challenge because of his ability to gain huge chunks of yards with his long strides, too. His 50-yard run late in the fourth quarter against the Rams was the longest run for a 49ers quarterback in club history. Steve Young had a famous 49-yard touchdown run, stumbling across the goal line, against the Minnesota Vikings in 1988.

Miami's best player is defensive end Cameron Wake, who has 10.5 sacks on the season. He is ranked as the top 4-3 defensive end in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus' rating system. Wake knows he must never lose track of Kaepernick.

"I'm always the spy," Wake said on a conference call with reporters who cover the 49ers. "Every play I'm the spy. That's my job title. Wherever the quarterback is, you've got to get there."

Although the Dolphins list Wake as the team's right defensive end, he actually has seen most of his action this season on the left side. That means he'll be matched mostly against 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis.

Davis is coming off one of his better games of the season, as he neutralized Rams defensive end Chris Long in the 49ers' 16-13 overtime loss last week. Wake will be one of Davis' more difficult challenges of the season.

But, oddly, Wake's biggest test might come on plays in which he is not even blocked.

The 49ers are expected to activate rookie running back LaMichael James to work the zone read running plays with Kaepernick, whose job it is to decide whether to hand off to James of keep it himself. Kaepernick will read the defensive end to make that decision.

"There are plays that certain teams have schemed up to read the end to make sure he's wrong," Wake said. "If he's down the line, obviously, you're going to keep the ball and run around the edge. If you have a quarterback who can do something like that, that's going to hurt your defense. At the same time, if you're a defensive end and you're waiting on it, they hand the ball off and the running back is up inside and he's still running."

Wake said there will be times when he'll fake one action in hopes of tricking the quarterback into making the wrong read.

"That's the game inside the game," Wake said.

Reid: National anthem protest accomplished goal of awareness

Reid: National anthem protest accomplished goal of awareness

SANTA CLARA – Safety Eric Reid and linebacker Eli Harold, who joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem last season, will not continue the protest this season.

Reid said Wednesday they achieved their goal of bringing attention to racial inequality in the United States.

“When we started doing that, our goal was to open up the floor to conversation. I believe we’ve achieved that goal,” Reid said. “So now we just want to move forward and just partner with people that’s trying to make a change.

“We accomplished that goal. People talked about it. I think we raised a lot of awareness about issues in this country. And now it’s time to move on to just affecting change.”

Reid and Harold are back with the 49ers, while Kaepernick remains a free agent. The 49ers have expressed no interest in retaining Kaepernick after opting to sign free-agent quarterback Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, instead.

“I stay in touch with him,” Reid said of Kaepernick. “I’m rooting for him. Obviously, he isn’t on a team, yet, but I’m rooting for him but hopefully he gets that call after the draft.

“It’s surprising. You see some of the other quarterbacks that have been signed around the league and why he hasn’t been, it’s just unfortunate.”

When asked if thought Kaepernick was paying the price for his protest, Reid answered, “I think so. It’s unfortunate, it’s sad. People want to shy away from him because of media, PR reasons.

“You’re doing something to better the world. I mean, the guy got a plane sent to Somalia to help with the famine there. He’s been doing things that if it were anybody else in a different situation without the anthem (protest), they’d be praising him and giving him awards for it.”

 

Coming off Achilles injury, Bowman returns to 49ers practice at full speed

Coming off Achilles injury, Bowman returns to 49ers practice at full speed

SANTA CLARA – NaVorro Bowman, who sustained a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 4 of the 2016 season, has been a full participant as the 49ers return to the practice field this week.

Bowman worked with the first team at middle linebacker Wednesday and appeared to move at top speed as the 49ers went through the second day of on-field workouts at a voluntary minicamp.

The 49ers, under new coach Kyle Shanahan, are allowed an extra voluntary minicamp as part of their offseason program. Bowman's return to the practice field was the highlight as the 49ers enter their third-week of the offseason program.

In other notes:

--The 49ers had tryouts with three unsigned veteran players: cornerback Steve Williams, and offensive linemen Tim Barnes and Kitt O’Brien.

--Wide receiver DeAndre Carter made the best catch of the day on a deep throw from quarterback Matt Barkley. Carter beat Williams on the reception.

--Defensive lineman Arik Armstead, who is a candidate to play the “Leo” position, was held out of competitive drills as he continues to recovery from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

--Ronald Blair lined up at the “Leo” position with the first-team defense and beat No. 2 right tackle Garry Gilliam for a sack in the “non-contract” drills. Aaron Lynch was at the “Leo” position with the second team.

--Tank Carradine lined up at the 5-technique, which is a position where the 49ers could target Stanford’s Solomon Thomas with the No. 2 overall pick.

--Kyle Juszczyk showed the versatility that prompted the 49ers to make him the highest-paid fullback in the league with several pass receptions during the 90-minute practice.

--Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson lined up at the cornerbacks with the first-team defense. Robinson made a leaping interception of a Brian Hoyer deep sideline pass against Rashad Ross during 7-on-7 drills.

--Hoyer and receiver Pierre Garçon teamed up for a 20-yard completion on the opening play of the 11-on-11 period.

--Wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who spent all of last season on injured reserve, did not practice due to a soft-tissue injury not related to his hamstring injury of a year ago.

--Offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (soft tissue), tight end Je’Ron Hamm (leg), running back Raheem Mostert (soft tissue), linebacker Eli Harold (toe) and tight end Blake Bell (cut forehead) did not practice.