49ers

49ers notes: Rookie tight end Kittle impresses in offseason program

49ers notes: Rookie tight end Kittle impresses in offseason program

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end George Kittle, a fifth-round draft pick, asserted himself during the 49ers’ offseason program as the team’s top rookie and set himself up to compete for a starting job in training camp.

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall draft pick, was prohibited from participating in the practices due to Stanford’s late conclusion of classes. And linebacker Reuben Foster, the first-round selection at No. 31, was limited to individual drills as he continues rehabilitation from shoulder surgery.

Kittle ended on a high note on Wednesday, as he caught touchdown passes of 8 and 5 yards from Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard during red-zone drill. On Tuesday, he took advantage of a blown coverage to score on a 60-yard touchdown from presumptive starter Brian Hoyer.

“George is coming, really battling,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He’s competed in the run and the pass game. George is a guy you can tell he is going for it, because of the way he competes on the field.

“Mainly, what he does off the field, too. He’s really trying to learn it and that’s given him a chance to show up a little bit.”

Kittle caught six passes in the two days of practice during the team’s minicamp, which wrapped up its on-field work Wednesday afternoon. Only Pierre Garçon (eight) and Carlos Hyde (seven) caught more passes than Kittle.

Kittle appeared to place himself into solid position to compete for a starting job against veterans Vance McDonald, who caught two passes, and Garrett Celek, who had one reception in the two days.

“He has a really good football awareness -- a feel for where to break, how to break, read zones,” Hoyer said of Kittle. “I've been surprised and, obviously, it's a good thing for us to have a guy who has that football awareness and some feel of the game to it.”

Here are some other notes and observations from the final 49ers practice of the offseason before the club reports back to Santa Clara on July 27 for training camp:

--Foster took part in individual drills and showed no signs of a the right shoulder condition that some national reports have suggested will keep him sidelined for his entire rookie season. Shanahan stated that Foster is on track to be cleared for full participation at the beginning of training camp.

--Linebacker Ahmad Brooks, wide receiver Bruce Ellington, and cornerbacks Rashard Robinson and K’Waun Williams took part in some individual work but were held out of team drills due to what appear to be minor soft-tissue injuries.

--Twenty different players caught passes in 11-on-11 drills over the two days, including DeAndre Smelter, who worked inside of rookie left cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon on a slant pattern to catch a 5-yard touchdown from Barkley. Smelter was a fourth-round pick of the 49ers in 2014. He appeared in two games last season and caught one pass for 23 yards.

--Jeremy Kerley, Trent Taylor, Raheem Mostert, DeAndre Carter and Victor Bolden fielded punts from Bradley Pinion during a special-teams drill.

--The defense came through with six interceptions against three different quarterbacks during a six-play stretch near the beginning of practice. Safety Eric Reid picked off a Hoyer pass. Three plays later, veteran cornerback Will Davis, whom the 49ers recently signed, made a leaping grab of a deep Barkley pass intended for Aldrick Robinson. Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong got pressure on Barkley, forcing him to throw from his heels. Then, undrafted rookie Chanceller James stepped in front of a Beathard pass intended for Carter and returned it for a touchdown.

--The offense put together a strong red-zone session with five touchdowns over a sequence of six pass attempts. Garçon found an opening between NaVorro Bowman and Malcolm Smith for a touchdown. Hyde caught a throwback screen. Kittle worked inside of cornerback Adrian Colbert for an 8-yard TD from Barkley. Smelter caught his scoring pass against Witherspoon, and Kittle followed up with another scoring grab from former Iowa teammate Beathard against the coverage of Prince Charles Iworah.

--Undrafted rookie wide receiver Kendrick Bourne was finally allowed to join the 49ers practices after the conclusion of classes at Eastern Washington. He made a reception from undrafted quarterback Nick Mullens.

--Cornerback Keith Reaser and free safety Jimmie Ward, beaten a day earlier on a deep Marquise Goodwin pass, had tight coverage on Kerley on an incomplete pass off a play fake.

--Defensive linemen Chris Jones and Arik Armstead had multiple quarterback pressures.

--With Williams sidelined, Will Redmond and Lorenzo Jerome lined up at nickel back with the first- and second-team defenses.

--Sam linebacker Eli Harold nearly had an interception at the line of scrimmage on a Hoyer pass, but backup left tackle John Theus aggressively separated Harold from the ball as they tumbled to the ground.

--During the course of the two practices, Hyde had nine run attempts, while Tim Hightower had eight. Rookie Joe Williams carried six times, while Raheem Mostert rushed five times. Veteran addition Kapri Bibbs and undrafted rookie Matt Breida had two rush attempts apiece.

--Goodwin had a good showing over the two-day camp with four receptions, as he hones in on running different routes in Shanahan’s scheme. Goodwin told NBC Sports Bay Area he was eager to show he could execute more than just the speed routes that he ran while with the Buffalo Bills.

“That’s what’s been fun with Marquise, because you haven’t seen a lot of it on tape,” Shanahan said. “He’s been pretty much outside the numbers his whole career, even in college. Now to move him all over, it’s new for him, its trial and error.”

Foster named 49ers starter -- likely for a long, long time

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AP

Foster named 49ers starter -- likely for a long, long time

SANTA CLARA -- Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster was promoted into the starting lineup with the season-ending injury to veteran Malcolm Smith.

The 49ers have reason to expect him to remain a starter for a long, long time.

Coach Kyle Shanahan on Tuesday said Foster was the starter at the team’s weakside linebacker position, alongside NaVorro Bowman. But he added, tthe onus is on Foster to hold onto that position.

“He could get beat out at any time,” Shanahan said. “If our guys behind him, we’ve got some good players behind him too, if they started performing at a higher level than him, then that wouldn’t be the case.”

The 49ers released their unofficial depth chart ahead of Saturday’s exhibition game against the Denver Broncos. The depth chart does not reflect the team’s decision to switch seventh-round draft pick Adrian Colbert from cornerback to free safety.

Also, veteran Tim Barnes is listed at left guard. He started all 32 games the past two seasons with the Rams at center. He is the team’s backup center, but his ability to also fill in at guard could determine whether he wins a spot on the 53-man roster.

The depth chart does not list nickel back or slot receiver. K'Waun Williams is ahead of Will Redmond as the nickel back, and Jeremy Kerley is ahead of Trent Taylor as the team's slot receiver.

Guard Joshua Garnett and safety Jimmie Ward are listed as starters despite being unavailable due to injuries. Garnett is expected back near the start of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean up cartilage in his knee. Ward remains on physically unable to perform while rehabbing from a hamstring injry.

OFFENSE
WR: Pierre Garçon, Jeremy Kerley, Trent Taylor/Aaron Burbridge, DeAndre Smelter/Kendrick Bourne
LT: Joe Staley, John Theus, Darrell Williams
LG: (Joshua Garnett), Zane Beadles, Tim Barnes, Erik Mangnuson
C: Daniel Kilgore, JP Flynn
RG: Brandon Fusco, Norman Price, Andrew Gardner
RT: Trent Brown, Garry Gilliam, Andrew Lauderdale
TE: Vance McDonald, George Kittle, Logan Paulsen/Blake Bell, Garrett Celek/Cole Hikutini
WR: Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, Victor Bolden/DeAndre Carter, Tim Patrick/Louis Murphy
RB: Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, Joe Williams/Kapri Bibbs, Raheem Mostert/Matt Breida
FB: Kyle Juszczyk, Tyler McCloskey
QB: Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens

DEFENSE
LDE: Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch, Ronald Blair
LDT: Earl Mitchell, Quinton Dial, D.J. Jones
RDT: DeForest Buckner, Chris Jones, Noble Nwachukwu, Leger Douzable
RDE: Tank Carradine, Solomon Thomas,
SAM: Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson, Pita Taumoepenu
MIKE: NaVorro Bowman, Brock Coyle, Donavin Newsom
WILL: Reuben Foster, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Austin Calitro, Sean Porter
LCB: Rashard Robinson, K’Waun Williams/Will Redmond, Prince Charles Iworah, Asa Jackson
RCB: Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser, Ahkello Witherspoon/Will Davis, Adrian Colbert
FS: (Jimmie Ward), Vinnie Sunseri, Lorenzo Jerome
SS: Eric Reid, Jaquiski Tartt, Don Jones

SPECIAL TEAMS
P: Bradley Pinion
K: Robbie Gould, Nick Rose
H: Bradley Pinion
PR: Jeremy Kerley, DeAndre Carter/Trent Taylor
KOR: Raheem Mostert, Victor Bolden
LS: Kyle Nelson

Paraag Marathe: I understand if 49ers fans say, 'How come he's been there?'

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USATI

Paraag Marathe: I understand if 49ers fans say, 'How come he's been there?'

Paraag Marathe is entering his 17th year with the 49ers.

Back in mid-January, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote the following:

The impediment to attracting their preferred candidates isn’t owner Jed York; apparently, it’s Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Football Operations Paraag Marathe.

On Tuesday morning, Marathe joined The Murph & Mac Show on KNBR 680 and was asked about combating those kinds of claims.

"I've got a lot of great relationships in this league and a lot of great friends in this league ... all I can do is do the best job that I can and focus on what I think is right," Marathe said. "And know that the sun rises and the sun sets and just focus on that."

Has Marathe had to train himself to develop thick skin?

[REWIND: Marathe: My job is to stay in my lane, help the coach and GM]

"Sure it's frustrating, right? But at the same time, I gotta say I get it, too," he answered. "We've had a lot of turnover, we haven't had winning seasons recently and I'm one of the one constants. I've been here.

"I'm not just an employee here. I'm also a fan of the team. I have been my whole life. So I get it. I understand fans' frustrations. If I was a fan and I didn't know, I would also say, 'Hey, well Paraag's been here the whole time. How come he's been there? What's he have to do with it?'

"I get that, too. Ultimately, we're judged on wins and losses and I'm a part of that. And hopefully I'm a part of the solution of getting this thing turned around."

As NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco wrote back in February:

A year ago, Marathe officially was replaced as team president and became the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations. His duties with the football team have not changed.

In fact, York and Marathe roles with the organization took on a much-greater significance after the decision was made to fire coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke.