Slimmed down Davis confident as he prepares to step in for Hyde

Slimmed down Davis confident as he prepares to step in for Hyde

SANTA CLARA -- Mike Davis’ first NFL season left him less than fulfilled.

He broke his hand and did not appear in 10 games. When he did play, his 1.7-yard average led to some whispers the 49ers’ fourth-round draft pick was already a bust.

Davis lived the disappointment. He heard the criticism.

On Sunday, he has his first big chance this season to prove himself. Davis is expected to see significant playing time – and, perhaps, his first NFL start – with Carlos Hyde out of action with a shoulder injury. The 49ers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi’s Stadium.

Davis dedicated himself after his rookie season to a body makeover. He swore off Flamin' Hot Cheetos, his favored snack. He dropped from 217 pounds to 205 – his lowest weight since high school. Davis’ body fat dropped from 18 percent to less than 12 percent.

“I feel more confident in myself,” Davis said. “I feel my power is the same. The only thing I feel is really different is the speed and the mindset. My mindset has changed since last year as well.”

Davis opened this season as the 49ers’ No. 3 running back. He rose up the depth chart last week, supplanting Shaun Draughn, as Hyde’s backup. Coach Chip Kelly said Davis has made improvements that led to his promotion.

“Just hitting the hole, timing, making the right cuts,” Kelly said. “You’re burying yourself into the back of the guard or are you working off of the guard’s block and getting yourself to the second level and not getting touched by a linebacker, finishing runs, showing good vision. That’s kind of what you’re looking for in a running back when you’re going through practice.”

Davis carried five times for 13 yards in the 49ers’ 45-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. In 12 career games, Davis has just 76 yards rushing on 45 attempts.

While Kelly rates Hyde and Draughn as more-accomplished receivers out of the backfield, he noted that Davis has improved that aspect of his game, as well as his pass protection.

“With coach Tom Rathman as your coach, he makes sure we know exactly what we’re doing,” Davis said. “He won’t put you out there if he doesn’t think you can handle it. I just made sure I go through the right steps and make sure I’m prepared into the game.

“I feel confident as ever. With Tom, we spend extra time and he makes sure our eyes are in the right place. That’s one thing we talk about more than anything.”

Injury report: Tartt returns to full practice for 49ers

Injury report: Tartt returns to full practice for 49ers

SANTA CLARA – Safety Jaquiski Tartt took part in full practice for the 49ers on Thursday, while wide receiver Torrey Smith and defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey were limited.

Running back Carlos Hyde is the only 49ers player who did not participate in practice. He will not play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But it appears everyone else on the 49ers has a strong chance to be available.

Cornerback Rashard Robinson was cleared for limited non-contact football activity as he advances through the NFL’s return-to-play concussion protocol. Jimmie Ward, who missed the past three games due to a quadriceps strain, saw his second day of full work.

Tartt missed last week’s game with a quadriceps injury. After limited work on Wednesday, he was cleared for a full return on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Joshua Garnett (foot), Robinson, Dorsey (knee) and Smith (back) saw limited practice.

The Buccaneers do not expect to have running back Doug Martin available for Sunday’s game. Martin (hamstring) sustained a setback, according to coach Dirk Koetter.

49ers participation report
Did not participate
RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder)

DT Glenn Dorsey (knee)
G Joshua Garnett (foot)
CB Rashard Robinson (concussion)
WR Torrey Smith (back)

Full participation
DT Arik Armstead (shoulder)
G Zane Beadles (ankle)
DT DeForest Buckner (foot)
DT Quinton Dial (knee)
QB Blaine Gabbert (back)
WR Jeremy Kerley (ankle)
TE Vance McDonald (hip)
S Jaquiski Tartt (quadricep)
CB Jimmie Ward (quadricep)

Buccaneers participation report
Did not participate
DE Robert Ayers (ankle)
RB Doug Martin (hamstring)

CB Jude Adjei-Barimah (knee)
DT Gerald McCoy (calf)
DT Clinton McDonald (hamstring)

Full participation
C Joe Hawley (knee)
WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring)
TE Luke Stocker (ankle)

DeAndre Smelter gets second chance with 49ers

DeAndre Smelter gets second chance with 49ers

SANTA CLARA – Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter is healthy and he’s back for a second opportunity to prove himself.

Smelter was inactive as a rookie last season as he rehabilitated from a torn ACL that cut short his final year of college ball. And the 49ers never really got a chance to see what he could do during the offseason program and training camp due to a hamstring injury.

After he was waived in September, Smelter went unclaimed and never signed with another team. The 49ers brought him back this week to take a spot on the team’s practice squad.

Said 49ers coach Chip Kelly, “It was one of those deals is that you never saw enough of him to really make an accurate decision on, ‘Hey, can he really contribute and help? So, let’s give him an opportunity when he’s healthy.’”

The 49ers drafted Smelter (6 foot 2, 210 pounds) despite his limited college exposure to a passing offense. He played 25 games at Georgia Tech, which runs the triple-option offense. In his final college season, he caught 35 passes for 715 yards and seven touchdowns.

He was considered a project when he began practicing with the 49ers during his first training camp. But he never was healthy for a long enough period of time to develop.

“It was a real serious hamstring injury,” Kelly said. “You feel bad for the player because he’s put so much time and invested so much time coming in and being on IR the first year and getting ready to show us what he can do but then really didn’t have a chance to show us what he can do.

“It happened before our first preseason game, so we never really got a chance to see him in action.”

The 49ers on Tuesday waived wide receiver Dres Anderson from the practice squad to create the opening for Smelter.