Hyde lowers the boom on 49ers rookie Witherspoon

Hyde lowers the boom on 49ers rookie Witherspoon

SANTA CLARA – General manager John Lynch admitted the one concern he had about cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon as he evaluated him before the draft was his willingness to be physical.

Witherspoon was involved in the biggest hit of training camp through five practices. However, he was on the wrong end of the collision.

The 49ers do not perform any live tackling in practices. Although there is padded, contact work, the defensive players are instructed to “thud” and release -- instead of tackling to the ground.

Apparently, the same rules do not allow for players on offense.

Running back Carlos Hyde leveled the boom on a flat-footed Witherspoon at the goal line at the end of a 6-yard touchdown run.

“I’m not worried about that last play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “They’re not tackling drills, and that caught him off guard. We’ll see when we’re actually allowed to tackle and I have full faith that Ahkello’s going to do exactly what he’s been coached to do.

“He’s not a coward by any means. He will get in there. He will tackle. He’s been showing up in run fits. He’s physical with his hands at the line of scrimmage. So we’re excited to see what shows up on game day.”

Witherspoon had a solid day in coverage, as he attempts to insert himself into the competition at cornerback. But while Keith Reaser missed his second day of practice with a knee injury, Dontae Johnson has taken the biggest strides toward securing the starting job opposite of Rashard Robinson.

Johnson had his best day of camp, including a leaping interception of a Brian Hoyer pass intended for Jeremy Kerley. It was Hoyer’s first interception during 11-on-11 drills since the opening of training camp. Johnson also got physical to break up pass for a Aaron Burbridge in the end zone during 7-on-7 drills.

The 49ers want to see a style of play such as what Johnson demonstrated on Wednesday. When the games begin, the best way for Witherspoon to rise up the depth chart will be to feature a more physical style and deliver the hits instead of being on the receiving side.

--Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner sustained a left ankle injury midway through practice. Although he initially appeared to be in significant pain, he ended up watching the remainder of practice from the sideline.

--Safety Eric Reid (ankle) and tight end George Kittle (hamstring) participated in individual drills. Safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), linebacker Eli Harold (head), cornerback Keith Reaser (knee) did not practice and are listed as day to day.

--Defensive back Adrian Colbert recorded an interception of a Matt Barkley pass after a miscommunication with his receiver placed no offensive player anywhere near Colbert in the middle of the field.

--Ahmad Brooks recorded two sacks and broke up a Hoyer pass over the middle that was inteded for tight end Garrett Celek.

--Barkley hooked up with undrafted rookie tight end Cole Hikutini over safety Lorenzo Jerome for a deep pass play down the seam.

--Rookie Trent Taylor made an exceptional catch during a 7-on-7 drill, making a leaping catch of a Barkley pass, then, somehow managing to get both feet inbounds at the pylon at the left front corner of the end zone.

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL


Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers


Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.