The real reason the 49ers parted ways with KD Cannon

The real reason the 49ers parted ways with KD Cannon

One of the more notable undrafted rookies the 49ers landed this year did not even last one week on the team's 90-man roster.

At the conclusion of the rookie minicamp, the 49ers unceremoniously parted ways with Baylor wide receiver KD Cannon. The 49ers filled his roster spot with the signing of unheralded Georgia Southern wide receiver B.J. Johnson, who was invited to attend the minicamp on a tryout basis. The New York Jets claimed Cannon off waivers.

While there were questions about the urgency with which Cannon performed during the practices, 49ers wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur said the Johnson-for-Cannon swap had more to do with the team being impressed with Johnson.

“Nothing happened with KD Cannon,” LaFleur said. “It had nothing do with KD. It was more of a testament to what B.J. showed.”

Cannon ranks No. 3 all-time in Baylor receptions (195), receiving yards (3,113) and touchdowns (27). But he was not one of the 32 wide receivers selected in the draft. The 49ers invested a fifth round draft pick in Louisiana Tech slot receiver Trent Taylor.

Cannon was waived after the 49ers’ rookie minicamp last month, while the 49ers kept undrafted rookie wide receivers Victor Bolden (Oregon State) and Kendrick Bourne (Eastern Washington).

Johnson’s best college season came as a senior when he caught 42 passes for 600 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson is 6 foot 1, 210 pounds, while Cannon is listed at 5-11, 182.

LaFleur said the 49ers liked the toughness he showed while fulfilling his blocking responsibilities in Georgia Southern’s run-based offense.

“When we brought him here, seeing that size, seeing his hands, we thought, ‘This is a guy we definitely want to work with,’” said LaFleur, who noted that Johnson has been spending time with veteran Pierre Garçon. “He’s done a really good job. He really loves it.”

Johnson concluded practice on Thursday with a sprawling intermediate reception in the middle of the field on a pass from fellow rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard. When Johnson realized nobody had touched him while he was on the ground, he got to his feet and finished off the 67-yard touchdown with linebacker Donavin Newsom and safety Malik Golden in pursuit. (The 49ers waived Golden on Friday.)

LaFleur said a premium is placed on how well a player separates and how he performs on plays in which the ball is not thrown his way. The 49ers' coaching staff is always watching, he said.

“There’s one ball out there every single time we snap the ball, but we’re watching every single thing you do,” LaFleur said. “We’re watching if you’re, first of all, on your details. Second, we’re watching if you don’t get the ball. Are you separating? When you don’t get the ball and someone else gets it, are you transitioning to go block for that guy?”

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.