49ers

Spencer remains ready despite demotion

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Spencer remains ready despite demotion

SANTA CLARA -- For five of his seven NFL seasons, 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer's role with the 49ers was never in question.Spencer, 29, who entered this season with a streak of 32 consecutive starts, knew in the past that he would line up every game as a starter.
On Sunday, for the first time in his career, he was delivered the news he would not be one of the 46 players allowed to suit up for the 49ers. He watched his team's 19-11 victory over the Washington Redskins from the sideline.Spencer is healthy after recovering from a hyperextended toe -- known as "turf toe" -- sustained Oct. 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles. But, now, Spencer is the team's No. 5 cornerback behind starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, and behind youngsters Chris Culliver and Tramaine Brock.Spencer lined up with the first-team defense when training camp opened. But he sustained a torn hamstring on the third day of practice and aggravated it a couple weeks later.After getting healthy, Spencer stepped in and played well as the No. 3 cornerback against Cincinnati and Philadelphia when Brock was sidelined with a hand injury.But, then, Spencer was injured again. And, now, Culliver is the third cornerback. Brock is No. 4. And Spencer does not have a role on game days.
"I wasn't too surprised," Spencer said of receiving the news he would not suit up against the Redskins."The injuries. There really wasn't a chance to participate in training camp. I guess they (the 49ers coaches) weren't able to make an assessment of what kind of player I was in training camp. That, on top of some other things . . . some guys are playing great. No, I really wasn't too surprised."Spencer started 12 games as a rookie in 2004 after the 49ers acquired him in the second round of the draft. He started 14 games in 2005 and 13 in 2006, as he missed games due to ankle and quadriceps injuries.He lost his starting job in 2007 when the 49ers added veteran free agents Nate Clements and Walt Harris. He was back in the same role as the team's third cornerback in 2008 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury early in the season.But, then, Spencer rebounded to start every game in 2009 and 2010."It's a different experience," Spencer said of his current situation. "But at the same time, winning cures everything. So it's not as bad."I take it for what it is. Keep working for what it is I'm trying to accomplish: to get better each day and go from there."The 49ers needed all five cornerbacks to play significant roles in the first five games of the season, so Spencer might end up with a prominent role again this season."That's the NFL in general," he said. "You never know. So you always got to prepare like you may be a play or two away from always being in the game. It's part of being professional athlete. You have to always prepare like you're going to play." Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked Wednesday how guard Chilo Rachal and Spencer, two starters of previous seasons, have handled their new roles as reserves. In his answer, Harbaugh focused on Rachal, who suits up for games and enters on special teams for certain specialty plays on offense."They've really been team guys, especially Chilo," Harbaugh said. "I really have to take my hat off to him. He is really chomping at the bit to be in there, after practice, before practice. Really on point. His time will come again and he plays and contributes for us in our extra O-linemen package. He's on field goal. He's on kickoff return. He's preparing like a starter and that's how we think of him. (I'm) especially pleased with him."

49ers sign top pick Solomon Thomas during first practice

49ers sign top pick Solomon Thomas during first practice

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers completed contract negotiations with their final unsigned draft pick as the team was going through warm-ups for the first practice of training camp.

Former Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 3 overall pick, signed Friday and was expected to join his teammates later in the day.

The sides agreed to the mandatory four-year contract worth more than $28 million, including a signing bonus of approximately $18.6 million. The deal is expected to be fully guaranteed.

The 49ers also have an option for the fifth season (2021) that must be exercised months after the 2019 season.

Thomas was unable to participate in full-squad workouts during the offseason due to Stanford’s late class schedule. NFL rules prohibit a rookie from attending the offseason program until his school’s classes have concluded for the spring session.

The 49ers – and the vast majority of NFL teams – have not had a contract stalemate with a rookie since the new collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2011.

The organization had similar timing with a first-round pick from last year. Guard Joshua Garnett, also from Stanford, signed with the 49ers on the evening before players were scheduled to report to training camp.

Around the NFL, there has been only one notable contract disagreement that prevented a draft pick from reporting to camp in a timely fashion. Defensive lineman Joey Bosa, whom the Chargers selected with the No. 3 pick last year, sat out a month of training camp due to a disagreement over how his bonus would be distributed. Bosa and Thomas are both represented by the agent firm of Creative Artists Agency.

Ward injures hamstring under team supervision, placed on PUP

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Ward injures hamstring under team supervision, placed on PUP

SANTA CLARA – Safety Jimmie Ward was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list to open training camp with a hamstring injury, the 49ers announced Friday morning.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan stated on Thursday that all of their players were healthy and no players would be headed to PUP or the non-football injury list.

But that was before the 49ers were scheduled to have their conditioning test. Ward sustained the injury on Thursday during the team's conditioning test. The team lists him as "week to week."

He can be activated to begin practice at any time. Ward is also eligible to begin the regular season on the PUP list. Any player who opens the regular season on PUP is ineligible for the first six weeks of the season.

Ward is expected to be one of the key members of the 49ers' defense from the free safety position. His role is dubbed "The Eraser," fellow safety Eric Reid said, because of his role as a playmaker in the secondary. However, one of the major questions about Ward is his ability to remain healthy through the rigors of an NFL season.

Ward missed eight games as a rookie due to a foot injury. Last year, he sat out five games due to a shoulder injury.