Finding a way for 49ers' Brian Hoyer to show off his arm


Finding a way for 49ers' Brian Hoyer to show off his arm

SANTA CLARA – Through the first four days of practices, Brian Hoyer has left little doubt of his standing as the 49ers’ starter and, unquestionably best option, at quarterback.

Coach Kyle Shanahan targeted Hoyer on the first day of free agency. And after he signed a two-year contract, Hoyer has been unchallenged on top of the depth chart. Hoyer appears to give Shanahan exactly what he wants with his ability to use a play-action setup to get the ball deep down the field.

“Before I got here, I didn’t know he could throw the ball that far,” 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon said.

Hoyer let the ball fly again and again on Monday. After two run plays to open practice, Hoyer used his play-action fake and unleashed a perfect pass 50 yards down the field. Wide receiver Aldrick Robinson was wide open but dropped the easy touchdown.

Later, Hoyer sent a pass that traveled 55 yards past the line of scrimmage to speedster Marquise Goodwin, who beat the coverage of Rashard Robinson for one of their many hookups since the opening of camp.

Shanahan wants to build a dangerous running game, which is a major key for him to get what he wants from Hoyer and his sneaky-strong arm.

There is still a lot of tinkering going on with the offensive line, but that unit might have the most responsibility to provide Hoyer with the support to push the ball down the field.

The line has to provide holes in the run game for Carlos Hyde and whomever else might have a role in the ground attack. The line must also be able to sell the run on play fakes to put some hesitation into the pass rush.

Ultimately, the pass protection must hold up or the general public may never see the big-play offense that Shanahan envisioned when he brought Hoyer aboard.

--The 49ers practiced without their top three safeties. Starters Jimmie Ward (hamstring) and Eric Reid (ankle) were out with injuries. Early in practice, Jaquiski Tartt sustained an injury to his left ribs area and did not return. His status for the remainder of the week is unclear. Vinnie Sunseri and Lorenzo Jerome took over as the safeties with the first-team defense, while Don Jones and Chanceller James lined up with the second team.

--Outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert is out for the season after sustaining a torn ACL in practice Sunday, Shanahan said. Gilbert received a $12,000 signing bonus and $62,000 in guaranteed money as an undrafted rookie from Colorado.

--Rookie tight end George Kittle (hamstring), Reid (ankle) and cornerback Keith Reaser (knee) are listed as day-to-day with injuries sustained during Sunday’s practice. Offensive lineman JP Flynn is out indefinitely. The 49ers designated wide receiver B.J. Johnson as waived/injured and claimed receiver Tim Patrick from the Baltimore Ravens. If Johnson clears waivers he will revert back to the 49ers.

--Aldrick Robinson, who dropped a deep pass at the beginning of practice, concluded the day with a long touchdown pass from Matt Barkley against the coverage of veteran cornerback Will Davis.

--Cornerback Rashard Robinson got his hands on a Hoyer pass intended for Garçon. However, instead of batting the ball down, Robinson tipped it and Garçon made the catch 25 yards down the field along the left sideline.

--Receiver DeAndre Smelter made a nice catch to get both feet inbounds on a deep out on a pass from undrafted quarterback Nick Mullens.

--Aaron Lynch intercepted a Barkley pass that was tipped by Quinton Dial at the line of scrimmage. Lynch also had a would-be sack on a play in which C.J. Beathard went ahead and completed a deep pass down the field for Goodwin.

--Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster recorded his third interception in four days. Shanahan explained why it was his favorite of Foster’s picks.

--The 49ers have their first day off from training camp on Tuesday. The squad returns to practice on Wednesday at 10:15 a.m.

Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers


Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers

The 49ers appear to have plenty of depth along their front seven, but the team brought in three defensive linemen for workouts on Tuesday, according to a source.

One of those players is reportedly Tyson Jackson, the No. 3 overall pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. The identities of the other two players were not immediately known.

Jackson has been without a team since the Falcons released him in March with two years and $8.5 million remaining on his contract. His workout with the 49ers was reported by the NFL Network. He also worked out recently with the Los Angeles Rams.

Jackson, 31, spent his first five season in Kansas City before playing three years with the Falcons. He appeared in all 16 games last season, starting seven times, and recorded 13 tackles and no sacks.

The 49ers have an abundance of defensive linemen, or players capable of rushing the passer from a position along the defensive line, such as DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Earl Mitchell, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch, Chris Jones, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Ronald Blair and D.J. Jones.

Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers


Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers

At the midway point of the 49ers’ exhibition season, there continues to be a lot of competition and more than a handful of veterans who have yet to lock down roster spots.

“I can tell you, it’s going to be real tough to cut it down to 53,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said last week. “We’re going to need all this game and practices to evaluate that.”

Here are the 49ers’ returning veteran players whose roster spots appear to be the most vulnerable with two weeks of practices and two exhibition games remaining to prove themselves:

OLB Ahmad Brooks
Brooks’ $4.45 million base salary is not much of a concern, considering the team is still $65.2 million under the salary cap. The number that factors into this decision the most is 33. That’s Brooks’ age.

If he is not clearly better than 23-year-old Eli Harold at the SAM linebacker position, the 49ers might want to keep the younger player to develop. Brooks is not talked about for his locker-room presence, so this decision will be made solely for what he does on the field and what he is expected to give the team in the future.

“You want to know who’s got the most upside and things like that,” Shanahan said. “Who’s going to be better throughout the year, if given the opportunity. But you also want to know who when it’s all said and done who’s going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things that I look at personally. You don’t always want to think who’s the best guy for Week 1. Who’s the best guy for the 2017 49ers?”

OG Zane Beadles
Beadles is currently working with the first-team offense, but his spot on the roster remains vulnerable. The 49ers’ decision-makers do not seem impressed with their offensive guards. The 49ers could look to pick up a guard from another team before the start of the season.

The jury is still out on Joshua Garnett, who had a good start to camp. But his play dropped off in Week 2 – perhaps because of the knee injury that required a procedure to clean up cartilage. Garnett may not be available for the start of the regular season.

Also, the 49ers may want to hold onto undrafted rookie lineman Erik Magnuson, who has a bigger upside than Beadles with youth, size and ability to play guard and center.

NT Quinton Dial
Earl Mitchell appears locked-in as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle. The 49ers also seem to have high hopes for rookie D.J. Jones. It’s unclear where that leaves Dial, who does not appear to be a great fit for the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme.

Dial should be a starter in the NFL. But he is better-suited to be positioned in a 3-4 scheme, using his strength and power as a two-gap player rather than adapt to a one-gap scheme in which quickness and agility are the main requirements.

DE Aaron Lynch
Before sustaining an ankle injury, Lynch had done everything the 49ers wanted of him – including reporting to camp at the weight that was ordered. Lynch also looked very good in the 49ers’ exhibition opener, recording two sacks against Kansas City.

But Lynch’s spot is not guaranteed, by any means. Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil, Ronald Blair and rookie Pita Taumoepenu all can play similar roles. If Lynch does not eat well or maintain his conditioning while rehabbing from his ankle injury, he could erase all of the positive steps he took at the beginning of camp.

TE Vance McDonald
The onus was on McDonald at the beginning of camp to win his way onto the team. His solid play has increased his odds of a roster spot, but it is not a sure thing. This is a position where all the incumbents – McDonald, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell -- face stiff challenges.

George Kittle will definitely be on the team. Blocking specialist Logan Paulsen and rookie Cole Hikutini are also in the mix. Hikutini does not appear ready to be a contributor this season. If they waive him with hopes of placing him on the practice squad, it seems unlikely another team would claim him for their 53-man roster. But is that a chance the 49ers are willing to take?

DE Tank Carradine
Carradine appears to be on solid footing at the 49ers’ big-end position, considering he remains on the first-team defense despite the addition of Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall selection. But it seems to be only a matter of time before Thomas takes on a greater role. Carradine could still be kept around as a backup.

Ronald Blair, a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, was buried on the depth chart at the beginning of camp. And a pulled groin muscle that has kept him out of action for more than a week does not help is cause, either.