49ers

Hyde's opportunity to prove he deserves role in 49ers' rebuilding

Hyde's opportunity to prove he deserves role in 49ers' rebuilding

SANTA CLARA -- Running back Carlos Hyde enters the final year of his contract, and the 49ers have created flexibility in their plan for future seasons.

Hyde has a chance to convince the organization’s decision-makers he’s worthy of a role in the long-term rebuilding project with a contract extension after this season.

Hyde, 26, is coming off his best season since arriving on the scene as a second-round draft pick in 2014. He replaced Frank Gore as the starter to open the 2015 season. Hyde rushed for 988 yards and six touchdowns with a 4.6-yard average in 13 games last season.

Now, he must prove himself to a new coaching staff, including his fourth head coach in four seasons. Hyde is working with the 49ers' first-team offense during the offseason program. Six running backs split 19 rushing attempts during a practice last week, and Hyde carried the ball seven times.

“He’s doing an outstanding job,” 49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner said of Hyde. “But, again, I’m not surprised. You don’t always get what you expect, so I’m constantly inspecting my players consistently. But he’s eager. He’s eager to learn, and at this point in time he’s doing a good job.”

The 49ers appeared to enact their succession plan at running back during the draft. Turner and coach Kyle Shanahan were proponents of selecting Utah running back Joe Williams in the fourth round. General manager John Lynch, who had removed Williams from the team’s draft board, reconsidered his feelings on Williams and traded up to select him with the No. 121 overall pick.

“You have to know what you’re looking for,” Turner said. “You coach all the players up, and then it’s up to them. And, truthfully, I know when to get out of the way.

“There are a lot of people that’s involved in coaching the running backs, because everybody thinks they can coach the running backs. And so my ability is -- and the reason I’ve been doing this a long time -- is knowing when to get out of the way. I’m going to coach, coach, coach, coach, but get out of the way and let the players play, and let them run free.”

Williams showed all of the traits that convinced Turner and Shanahan he was a good fit for the team’s zone run scheme. The night before the fourth round of the draft, Shanahan told Peter King of the MMQB how much he wanted Williams.

“I’m telling you right now: If we don’t get him, I’ll be sick,” Shanahan said. “I will be contemplating Joe Williams all night.”

Turner has not seen anything during the 49ers’ offseason program that leads him away from his belief that Williams could thrive in the team’s system.

“He has the tools, the qualities of other players that’s worked well in the system,” Turner said. “But, again, there’s the toughness, and I’m not going to pinpoint everything, but he’s hungry, he has the physical tools, he has that speed, that foot quickness, and when it comes down to it, the mental toughness.”

“You pick up things, tone of voice and all those things. So, yeah, we all have adversities, and things like that. But I love what I saw in Joe.”

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

long-us.jpg
USATSI

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."

READ MORE AT CSNPhilly.com

Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

hoyer-brian-kc-night.jpg
AP

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.”

QUICK SLANTS
--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.