OTA notes: 49ers' vertical passing game needs time

OTA notes: 49ers' vertical passing game needs time

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Brian Hoyer might have confidence in his ability to throw the ball down the field, but during the 49ers’ practice Thursday the vertical game was non-existent.

“The way he throws is different than the way Matt Ryan throws. No better, no worse,” said 49ers passing game specialist Mike LaFleur, who was on Kyle Shanahan’s offensive staff with the Atlanta Falcons the past two seasons. . “It’s just getting used to our receivers. The angles they’re taking. It takes time. It took Matt real time.

“It’s going to take the guys (receivers) going down the field time to get that timing, that rhythm. What angle? How far can he actually throw it. Because I know Hoyer has a lot of confidence in his arm and how far he can throw it. And we have some guys that can run and get down the field.”

On Friday, they held their final session of organized team activities before holding two days of practice next week at the squad's mandatory minicamp. Thursday's practice was open to the local media.

The 49ers quarterbacks completed 21 passes to 14 different receivers during Thursday’s practice. Few of the passes were completed down the field.

Here are some notes from the practice session:

--Rookie slot receiver Trent Taylor and veteran Pierre Garçon caught a team-high three passes apiece. Jeremy Kerley, DeAndre Carter and running back Matt Breida caught two apiece.

--The 49ers’ defense produced seven “sacks” during the practice with undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert break through for three sacks. Gilbert is lining up with at strongside linebacker. Tank Carradine, DeForest Buckner, Chris Jones and NaVorro Bowman also had sacks.

“Hopefully, it’s a learning experience and we’re better for it,” 49ers offensive line coach John Benton said. “But (I’m) not happy about it today.”

--Bowman broke up two passes, including a Hoyer pass intended for Carlos Hyde out of the backfield that ended up in linebacker Malcolm Smith’s hands for an interception. Bowman could have come up with a leaping interception in the end zone, but the ball slid through his hands. Bowman also ran stride for stride with tight end Blake Bell on a deep Hoyer incompletion.

--On the first play of an extended red-zone session, Smith was in position to make a big hit on Kerley on a crossing pattern at the 5-yard line.

--Cornerback Dontae Johnson had an interception off a pass that deflected off Garçon’s hands. Johnson and Keith Reaser lined up with the 49ers’ first-team defense while presumptive starting cornerback Rashard Robinson worked on a side field due to a minor injury. Reaser broke up a pass intended for Garçon.

--The 49ers made two transactions, including the official signing of veteran pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil to a two-year contract. The 49ers also signed former New Hampshire offensive lineman Andrew Lauderdale, who originally signed with the New Orleans Saints but was waived two weeks later.

To make room for Dumervil and Lauderdale, the 49ers waived offensive lineman Evan Goodman (Arizona State) and safety Malik Golden (Penn State).

--Hyde got the handoffs on seven of the 49ers’ 19 run plays during 11-on-11 drills.

--Running back Raheem Mostert dropped what would have been a 4-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Matt Barkley. Three plays later, rookie tight end Cole Hikutini had C.J. Beathard’s 4-yard pass slip through his hands in the end zone.

--It was a rough day for the tight ends. Rookie George Kittle had a false start, and Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald dropped passes.

--The 49ers are trying to figure out with Joshua Garnett fits best along the offensive line. Benton said he initially felt as if Garnett was best on the right side, where he played most of last season. But in recent days, Benton said he believes he’s playing both sides equally.

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


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."


Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved


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.”

--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.