Observations from 49ers training camp

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Observations from 49ers training camp

SANTA CLARA -- You'll have a chance to see them in action for the first time in nearly eight months Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings, but I've been present for the 49ers' past three days of training camp at team headquarters in Santa Clara.

After a bit of needling from Insider Matt Maiocco, here are a number of observations that caught my eye:

- Offseason additions created a talented and crowded backfield for the 49ers. While Frank Gore's training camp touches were limited, Kendall Hunter looked to be the fastest to the outside. The second-year pro showed tremendous burst and ability to turn upfield quickly this camp.

- Demarcus Dobbs is being tried as a two-way player, and his big body belies his soft hands. He has looked good as a pass catcher this training camp. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio isn't concerned he'll lose him to the offense, though, and he says Dobbs factors into the team's future defensive plans. Dobbs wore No. 96 last year, but he's been wearing No. 40 this camp, a number that won't require him to check in with referees as an eligible receiver on offense.

- If I were out there throwing passes this training camp, I would be targeting undrafted rookie receiver Brian Tyms. He has really impressed me with his size, speed and ability to go get the ball. Tyms is listed at six-foot-three and 210 pounds. The 49ers already have six top receivers they're likely to carry into the regular season -- Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn, Kyle Williams and A.J. Jenkins -- but see if they don't try to stash Tyms on the practice squad. Nathan Palmer is another undrafted rookie the team is excited about, but Palmer was relatively quiet for the few days I witnessed.

- Keeping up with Insider Matt Maiocco's Camp Summaries, I expected one of the NFL's top defenses to continue having their way with Greg Roman's offensive units. But I was impressed to see Tuesday and Wednesday that the offense was holding their own, and in some practice periods -- especially with the clock in play -- pushing the defense on their heels with a series of positive gains. With the stakes raised, they forced post-practice sprints from the defense on Tuesday. It will be fun to watch this offense have a chance to play against a defense that isn't familiar with the gameplan. Holes should be a little bigger against a defensive unit that can't expect what's coming next.

- Scott Tolzien looked good. Granted, he's often up against the the last-string defense, but his decision making and ball delivery have stood out, so much so that he could challenge Josh Johnson for the third-string QB role. Their preseason play will go a long way in determining the depth chart, but at this point, I'm putting Tolzien three.

- Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman showed last season that they like to break out a bit of trickery from time to time. I saw my first two progressive plays Wednesday when they went to Kyle Williams on the end around, and deployed a flea flicker with Tolzien going deep (unsuccessfully) for A.J. Jenkins. After bolstering their arsenal with new weapons, I am looking forward to seeing how Roman and the 49ers push football's play-calling limits and get their playmakers the ball in space.

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.