49ers

49ers notes: Rookie tight end Kittle impresses in offseason program

49ers notes: Rookie tight end Kittle impresses in offseason program

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end George Kittle, a fifth-round draft pick, asserted himself during the 49ers’ offseason program as the team’s top rookie and set himself up to compete for a starting job in training camp.

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall draft pick, was prohibited from participating in the practices due to Stanford’s late conclusion of classes. And linebacker Reuben Foster, the first-round selection at No. 31, was limited to individual drills as he continues rehabilitation from shoulder surgery.

Kittle ended on a high note on Wednesday, as he caught touchdown passes of 8 and 5 yards from Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard during red-zone drill. On Tuesday, he took advantage of a blown coverage to score on a 60-yard touchdown from presumptive starter Brian Hoyer.

“George is coming, really battling,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He’s competed in the run and the pass game. George is a guy you can tell he is going for it, because of the way he competes on the field.

“Mainly, what he does off the field, too. He’s really trying to learn it and that’s given him a chance to show up a little bit.”

Kittle caught six passes in the two days of practice during the team’s minicamp, which wrapped up its on-field work Wednesday afternoon. Only Pierre Garçon (eight) and Carlos Hyde (seven) caught more passes than Kittle.

Kittle appeared to place himself into solid position to compete for a starting job against veterans Vance McDonald, who caught two passes, and Garrett Celek, who had one reception in the two days.

“He has a really good football awareness -- a feel for where to break, how to break, read zones,” Hoyer said of Kittle. “I've been surprised and, obviously, it's a good thing for us to have a guy who has that football awareness and some feel of the game to it.”

Here are some other notes and observations from the final 49ers practice of the offseason before the club reports back to Santa Clara on July 27 for training camp:

--Foster took part in individual drills and showed no signs of a the right shoulder condition that some national reports have suggested will keep him sidelined for his entire rookie season. Shanahan stated that Foster is on track to be cleared for full participation at the beginning of training camp.

--Linebacker Ahmad Brooks, wide receiver Bruce Ellington, and cornerbacks Rashard Robinson and K’Waun Williams took part in some individual work but were held out of team drills due to what appear to be minor soft-tissue injuries.

--Twenty different players caught passes in 11-on-11 drills over the two days, including DeAndre Smelter, who worked inside of rookie left cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon on a slant pattern to catch a 5-yard touchdown from Barkley. Smelter was a fourth-round pick of the 49ers in 2014. He appeared in two games last season and caught one pass for 23 yards.

--Jeremy Kerley, Trent Taylor, Raheem Mostert, DeAndre Carter and Victor Bolden fielded punts from Bradley Pinion during a special-teams drill.

--The defense came through with six interceptions against three different quarterbacks during a six-play stretch near the beginning of practice. Safety Eric Reid picked off a Hoyer pass. Three plays later, veteran cornerback Will Davis, whom the 49ers recently signed, made a leaping grab of a deep Barkley pass intended for Aldrick Robinson. Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong got pressure on Barkley, forcing him to throw from his heels. Then, undrafted rookie Chanceller James stepped in front of a Beathard pass intended for Carter and returned it for a touchdown.

--The offense put together a strong red-zone session with five touchdowns over a sequence of six pass attempts. Garçon found an opening between NaVorro Bowman and Malcolm Smith for a touchdown. Hyde caught a throwback screen. Kittle worked inside of cornerback Adrian Colbert for an 8-yard TD from Barkley. Smelter caught his scoring pass against Witherspoon, and Kittle followed up with another scoring grab from former Iowa teammate Beathard against the coverage of Prince Charles Iworah.

--Undrafted rookie wide receiver Kendrick Bourne was finally allowed to join the 49ers practices after the conclusion of classes at Eastern Washington. He made a reception from undrafted quarterback Nick Mullens.

--Cornerback Keith Reaser and free safety Jimmie Ward, beaten a day earlier on a deep Marquise Goodwin pass, had tight coverage on Kerley on an incomplete pass off a play fake.

--Defensive linemen Chris Jones and Arik Armstead had multiple quarterback pressures.

--With Williams sidelined, Will Redmond and Lorenzo Jerome lined up at nickel back with the first- and second-team defenses.

--Sam linebacker Eli Harold nearly had an interception at the line of scrimmage on a Hoyer pass, but backup left tackle John Theus aggressively separated Harold from the ball as they tumbled to the ground.

--During the course of the two practices, Hyde had nine run attempts, while Tim Hightower had eight. Rookie Joe Williams carried six times, while Raheem Mostert rushed five times. Veteran addition Kapri Bibbs and undrafted rookie Matt Breida had two rush attempts apiece.

--Goodwin had a good showing over the two-day camp with four receptions, as he hones in on running different routes in Shanahan’s scheme. Goodwin told NBC Sports Bay Area he was eager to show he could execute more than just the speed routes that he ran while with the Buffalo Bills.

“That’s what’s been fun with Marquise, because you haven’t seen a lot of it on tape,” Shanahan said. “He’s been pretty much outside the numbers his whole career, even in college. Now to move him all over, it’s new for him, its trial and error.”

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

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AP

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
 
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
 
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
 
Talent.
 
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
 
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J.  Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.

Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.

But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
 
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
 
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
 
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
 
In the meantime, there is beer.

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

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AP

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 on Sunday:

1. A major step backward
So much for the 49ers’ somewhat-impressive streak of close losses.

There was nothing encouraging about what transpired in the 49ers' worst loss at Levi’s Stadium. It was also the franchise's worst home loss since Mike Singletary's team absorbed a 45-10 thumping against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 11, 2009.

Was there anything positive to take from this game?

“No, not right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was disappointing. I think all three phases, players and coaches, we’ve got to play better than that, a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The competitive nature of the 49ers’ past five games was one thing. But with a big home loss on such an emotional day, it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The 49ers looked like a team devoid of any leadership, and brings more scrutiny onto the organization’s decision last week to release linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Now, the 49ers face a crossroads. With another cross-country trip ahead, the 49ers have to regroup in a hurry in order to avoid another embarrassing blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Beathard’s first start
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard certainly was not the reason the 49ers got blown out. In his first NFL start, he showed a lot of toughness, which was to be expected. He was sacked five times. But most of those sacks could have been avoided. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, especially on three-step drops.

Beathard also showed some promise, too. He let the ball fly deep for Marquise Goodwin, who caught four passes for 80 yards. Beathard completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards.

Beathard accounted for the 49ers’ only touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There seems to be little doubt it was in the best interest of the organization to begin evaluating what it has for the future with the permanent switch from Brian Hoyer to Beathard.

3. Dwight Clark’s Day
The 49ers, of course, did nothing to evoke any memories of the great teams on which Dwight Clark played. Well, they did look a lot like Clark’s first team with the 49ers.

The 49ers of 1979 lost their first seven games of the season. This year’s team matched that start for the worst beginning to a season in franchise history.

More than 35 of Clark’s teammates off the 1981 Super Bowl team were in attendance to honor a pay tribute to Clark, who is battling ALS. Now in a wheelchair and considerably lighter, Clark delivered some poignant remarks at halftime.

Clark, 60, told his old teammate, Keena Turner, who works as vice president of football affairs, that all he wanted was to see some of his old teammates.

“And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time,” Clark said.