Snap count: Top 49ers' defensive picks get a lot of work in preseason opener

Snap count: Top 49ers' defensive picks get a lot of work in preseason opener

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The 49ers’ saw a lot of their top three draft picks in the exhibition opener Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick, and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round pick, both played 28 snaps. Only undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome saw more action on defense with 33 snaps.

Linebacker Reuben Foster, chosen with the 31st overall pick, played 27 snaps for a defense that limited Kansas City to just 187 total yards in the 49ers’ 27-17 victory.

The 49ers’ medical staff was seen working on Thomas’ left shoulder/neck area in the second half. He remained in the game after Ronald Blair went down with a groin injury. Afterward, Thomas said nothing was wrong. Coach Kyle Shanahan said the medical staff did not advise him of any issue with Thomas.

Thomas had a strong showing in his debut, including a quarterback pressure on his first snap that led to Rashard Robinson’s interception in the first quarter.

Shanahan said he saw one play early in the game in which Thomas could have gotten a big hit but he showed some hesitation in pursuit to the ball.

“I looked up again later in the next quarter and I thought he had the same look and that is when he had zero hesitation,” Shanahan said. “I thought he just ran right through a guy and took him to the sideline.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 41, Matt Barkley 35, Brian Hoyer 7
Running back – Matt Breida 28, Tyler McCloskey 27, Joe Williams 25, Raheem Mostert 23, Carlos Hyde 7, Kyle Juszczyk 6
Wide receiver – Kendrick Bourne 35, DeAndre Carter 28, Trent Taylor 28, Victor Bolden 24, DeAndre Smelter 20, Aldrick Robinson 15, Aaron Burbridge 11, Marquise Goodwin 8, Jeremy Kerley 6, Pierre Garçon 4, Tim Patrick 2
Tight end – Vance McDonald 37, Blake Bell 34, Garrett Celek 24, Logan Paulsen 14, Cole Hikutini 11
Offensive line – John Flynn 76, Garry Gilliam 59, Nick Price 58, Tim Barnes 52, John Theus 51, Erik Magnuson 41, Darrell Williams 24, Andrew Lauderdale 17, Trent Brown 8, Daniel Kilgore 7, Brandon Fusco 7, Joe Staley 7, Zane Beadles 7, Richard Levy 1

Defensive line – Solomon Thomas 28, Noble Nwachukwu 24, D.J. Jones 21, Chris Jones 18, Ronald Blair 15, Aaron Lynch 15, Arik Armstead 14, Tank Carradine 11, Earl Mitchell 11, Pita Taumoepenu 10, Quinton Dial 10, DeForest Buckner 6, Elvis Dumervil 2
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 27, Austin Calitro 25, Ray-Ray Armstrong 22, Eli Harold 15, NaVorro Bowman 15, Dekoda Watson 14, Ahmad Brooks 14, Jayson DiManche 7, Sean Porter 4
Cornerback – Ahkello Witherspoon 28, Keith Reaser 27, Will Davis 21, Will Redmond 19, Rashard Robinson 14, Prince Charles Iworah 10, Asa Jackson 10, K’Waun Williams 7
Safety – Lorenzo Jerome 33, Chanceller James 25, Don Jones 19, Vinnie Sunseri 18, Eric Reid 14

Bell 18, Bradley Pinion 15, Don Jones 15, Sunseri 15, Watson 15, DiManche 15, James 14, Davis 13, Kyle Nelson 12, Taumoepenu 12, Iworah 11, Carter 10, Mostert 10, Harald 10, Smelter 10, Redmond 10, Hikutini 9, Celek 8, Jerome 8, Robbie Gould 7, Witherspoon 7, Price 7, Barnes 7, Theus 7, Magnuson 7, Nick Rose 6, Bolden 6, Burbridge 6, Jackson 6, Gilliam 5, Armstrong 5, Paulsen 5, Reaser 5, Kapri Bibbs 4, D.J. Jones 4, Dial 4, Blair 3, Taylor 3, Williams 3, Calitro 3, Lauderdale 3, Levy 3, McDonald 2, Thomas 2, Nwachukwu 2, Chris Jones 2, Tim Hightower 1, Bourne 1, McCloskey 1, Brown 1, Kilgore 1, Fusco 1, Staley 1, Beadles 1, Kerley 1, Patrick 1, Foster 1, Bowman 1, Armstead 1, Reid 1, Robinson 1, Brooks 1, Carradine 1, Mitchell 1, Porter 1

QB Nick Mullens, WR Louis Murphy, FS Jimmie Ward (PUP), S Jaquiski Tartt, CB Dontae Johnson, CB Adrian Colbert, LB Donavin Newsom, LB Brock Coyle, T Erik Magnuson, G Joshua Garnett, TE George Kittle

Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers


Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers

The 49ers appear to have plenty of depth along their front seven, but the team brought in three defensive linemen for workouts on Tuesday, according to a source.

One of those players is reportedly Tyson Jackson, the No. 3 overall pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. The identities of the other two players were not immediately known.

Jackson has been without a team since the Falcons released him in March with two years and $8.5 million remaining on his contract. His workout with the 49ers was reported by the NFL Network. He also worked out recently with the Los Angeles Rams.

Jackson, 31, spent his first five season in Kansas City before playing three years with the Falcons. He appeared in all 16 games last season, starting seven times, and recorded 13 tackles and no sacks.

The 49ers have an abundance of defensive linemen, or players capable of rushing the passer from a position along the defensive line, such as DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Earl Mitchell, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch, Chris Jones, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Ronald Blair and D.J. Jones.

Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers


Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers

At the midway point of the 49ers’ exhibition season, there continues to be a lot of competition and more than a handful of veterans who have yet to lock down roster spots.

“I can tell you, it’s going to be real tough to cut it down to 53,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said last week. “We’re going to need all this game and practices to evaluate that.”

Here are the 49ers’ returning veteran players whose roster spots appear to be the most vulnerable with two weeks of practices and two exhibition games remaining to prove themselves:

OLB Ahmad Brooks
Brooks’ $4.45 million base salary is not much of a concern, considering the team is still $65.2 million under the salary cap. The number that factors into this decision the most is 33. That’s Brooks’ age.

If he is not clearly better than 23-year-old Eli Harold at the SAM linebacker position, the 49ers might want to keep the younger player to develop. Brooks is not talked about for his locker-room presence, so this decision will be made solely for what he does on the field and what he is expected to give the team in the future.

“You want to know who’s got the most upside and things like that,” Shanahan said. “Who’s going to be better throughout the year, if given the opportunity. But you also want to know who when it’s all said and done who’s going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things that I look at personally. You don’t always want to think who’s the best guy for Week 1. Who’s the best guy for the 2017 49ers?”

OG Zane Beadles
Beadles is currently working with the first-team offense, but his spot on the roster remains vulnerable. The 49ers’ decision-makers do not seem impressed with their offensive guards. The 49ers could look to pick up a guard from another team before the start of the season.

The jury is still out on Joshua Garnett, who had a good start to camp. But his play dropped off in Week 2 – perhaps because of the knee injury that required a procedure to clean up cartilage. Garnett may not be available for the start of the regular season.

Also, the 49ers may want to hold onto undrafted rookie lineman Erik Magnuson, who has a bigger upside than Beadles with youth, size and ability to play guard and center.

NT Quinton Dial
Earl Mitchell appears locked-in as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle. The 49ers also seem to have high hopes for rookie D.J. Jones. It’s unclear where that leaves Dial, who does not appear to be a great fit for the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme.

Dial should be a starter in the NFL. But he is better-suited to be positioned in a 3-4 scheme, using his strength and power as a two-gap player rather than adapt to a one-gap scheme in which quickness and agility are the main requirements.

DE Aaron Lynch
Before sustaining an ankle injury, Lynch had done everything the 49ers wanted of him – including reporting to camp at the weight that was ordered. Lynch also looked very good in the 49ers’ exhibition opener, recording two sacks against Kansas City.

But Lynch’s spot is not guaranteed, by any means. Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil, Ronald Blair and rookie Pita Taumoepenu all can play similar roles. If Lynch does not eat well or maintain his conditioning while rehabbing from his ankle injury, he could erase all of the positive steps he took at the beginning of camp.

TE Vance McDonald
The onus was on McDonald at the beginning of camp to win his way onto the team. His solid play has increased his odds of a roster spot, but it is not a sure thing. This is a position where all the incumbents – McDonald, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell -- face stiff challenges.

George Kittle will definitely be on the team. Blocking specialist Logan Paulsen and rookie Cole Hikutini are also in the mix. Hikutini does not appear ready to be a contributor this season. If they waive him with hopes of placing him on the practice squad, it seems unlikely another team would claim him for their 53-man roster. But is that a chance the 49ers are willing to take?

DE Tank Carradine
Carradine appears to be on solid footing at the 49ers’ big-end position, considering he remains on the first-team defense despite the addition of Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall selection. But it seems to be only a matter of time before Thomas takes on a greater role. Carradine could still be kept around as a backup.

Ronald Blair, a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, was buried on the depth chart at the beginning of camp. And a pulled groin muscle that has kept him out of action for more than a week does not help is cause, either.