49ers

49ers review: Thomas does not generate pressure

49ers review: Thomas does not generate pressure

SANTA CLARA – Tank Carradine started for the 49ers on Sunday at right defensive end, but rookie Solomon Thomas saw the bulk of the playing time at that position.

The 49ers got off to a rough start in Kyle Shanahan’s debut as head coach on Sunday with a 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.

Thomas, the No. 3 overall draft pick, played 64 percent of the 49ers’ defensive snaps. Carradine played 46 percent of the defensive plays. Thomas had a rough opener, failing to get any pressure on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on 19 passing downs, according to Pro Football Focus.

The 49ers got pressure on Newton on only seven of his 27 drop-backs throughout the game. DeForest Buckner provided about the only pass rush for the 49ers with one quarterback hit and four hurries, according to PFF.

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster played just 11 snaps before exiting the game with a right ankle sprain. In his limited duty, he registered a high grade with three tackles and a pass broken up.

On offense, Zane Beadles had  lowest PFF grade of any guard through Sunday’s games in Week 1. Beadles allowed a quarterback sack – a game-turning sack-strip against Carolina defensive lineman Wes Horton. He also surrendered a quarterback hit and four hurries while in pass protection.

The 49ers’ best performance on the offensive line came from right tackle Trent Brown, according to PFF. Brown did not allow a quarterback pressure on 41 pass-blocking snaps.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer completed 24 of 35 pass attempts, but struggled on passes down the field. He completed just two of 10 attempts downfield for 26 yards with one interception and an on-target deep ball that Marquise Goodwin dropped.

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

OFFENSE
Quarterback – Brian Hoyer 57
Running back – Carlos Hyde 45, Kyle Juszczyk 19, Matt Breida 12, Raheem Mostert 1
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 50, Marquise Goodwin 50, Trent Taylor 24, Aldrick Robinson 10, Kendrick Bourne 3
Tight end – George Kittle 54, Garrett Celek 14, Logan Paulsen 3
Offensive line – LT Joe Staley 57, LG Zane Beadles 57, C Daniel Kilgore 57, RG Brandon Fusco 57, RT Trent Brown 57

DEFENSE
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 53, Arik Armstead 51, Solomon Thomas 43, Earl Mitchell 38, Tank Carradine 31, Elvis Dumervil 16, D.J. Jones 15, Xavier Cooper 14
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 66, Ray-Ray Armstrong 45, Eli Harold 30, Dekoda Watson 15, Reuben Foster 11
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 67, Rashard Robinson 67, K’Waun Williams 29
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 67, Eric Reid 67, Lorenzo Jerome 12

SPECIAL TEAMS
Brock Coyle 19, Mostert 14, Watson 14, Adrian Colbert 13, Armstrong 12, Celek 12, Harold 12, Johnson 11, Keith Reaser 10, Breida 10, Tartt 9, Reid 9, Robinson 8, Bradley Pinion 7, Paulsen 7, Bourne 7, Carradine 6, Kyle Nelson 5, Buckner 5, Armstead 5, Mitchell 5, Jones 4, Juszczyk 4, Taylor 3, Jerome 2, Robbie Gould 1, Garry Gilliam 1, Staley 1, Beadles 1, Kilgore 1, Fusco 1, Brown 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB C.J. Beathard, OL Erik Magnuson

INACTIVE
WR Victor Bolden, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, DB Jimmie Ward (hamstring), LB Pita Taumoepenu, LB Aaron Lynch (back), OL John Theus, OL Laken Tomlinson

Remaining healthy and productive is a stretch for 49ers tight end Kittle

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AP

Remaining healthy and productive is a stretch for 49ers tight end Kittle

Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch spoke separately in February about the need for 49ers tight end George Kittle to find a way to remain healthy.

It’s a reasonable concern. After all, Kittle sustained a hamstring injury on the third day of training camp. He was treated for injuries to his hip, chest, elbow, back, leg and ankle during the season.

Through it all, Kittle missed just one game due to an ankle injury and came through with an impressive rookie season after being chosen in the fifth round of last year’s draft from Iowa.

Kittle ranked second in the NFL among rookies in receiving yards last season. His 43 catches for 515 yards were the most by any rookie NFL tight end drafted after the fourth round.

The future is bright. But – as Shanahan and Lynch were pick to point out at the NFL scouting combine – Kittle must find a way to avoid injuries. Kittle addressed his offseason training regimen during the 49ers Insider Podcast.

“I was banged up a little bit,” Kittle said. “I did a whole offseason of just preparing my body -- a lot of band work -- to get my body used to hard hits and stuff like that. I did as much stretching as I could because the more flexible you are, the less likely you are to pull something.”

Kittle said no player can ever eliminate the possibility of injuries, but he took steps he believes will give him a better chance to remain able to perform.

“I think you can protect against some injuries,” Kittle said. “You can’t protect against, you’re running an outside zone and a guy falls down behind you onto your ankle or something. You can’t control stuff like that.

“I think a lot of it is luck of the draw, in my opinion. But there are things you can do to help yourself. If a stiff guy gets hit from behind, his likelihood of getting hurt is probably higher than a guy who’s super-limber.”

As a tight end, Kittle has to balance building up the weight and strength required to block defensive ends, while also remaining light enough to run pass patterns against defensive backs.

Kittle is currently in the same situation as quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard, as each is going through his first full offseason program with the 49ers in Santa Clara.

“They’re both fantastic quarterbacks,” Kittle said.

Beathard, a college teammate of Kittle, started five games last season.

“He proved his toughness, taking hits, getting up, making plays,” Kittle said of Beathard.

In the final five games with Garoppolo at quarterback, Kittle caught 15 passes for 224 yards. He caught four passes for 100 yards in the season finale against the Los Angeles Rams to become the first 49ers rookie tight end since Monty Stickles in 1960 to have 100 yards receiving in a game.

Kittle praised Garoppolo for his leadership and his uncanny ability to locate the open man.

“It’s fun because you know you’re going to get the ball,” Kittle said. “He sees the whole field at all times.”

Garoppolo getting to know new 49ers teammates without coaches around

Garoppolo getting to know new 49ers teammates without coaches around

Although the first two weeks of the NFL offseason program are limited to strength and conditioning training, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has already gotten an opportunity to play with a couple of his new toys.

Garoppolo has taken part in throwing sessions during the week at the team’s facility, where coaches are not allowed on the field with the players until next week. On the weekends, he has organized additional activities with his teammates at a park in the South Bay.

“We had our first one this weekend,” Garoppolo said on Monday at Levi’s Stadium after another day of workouts. “It’s just something that I like to do. It kinds of gets us away from the coaches and everything, and allows me to talk to the receivers about specific things, or the tight ends or running backs.

“We try to get everyone out there that we can. I understand people have things that they have to get to. But we had a great showing this Saturday. It was good. Just to be on the same page with those guys, talking through route concepts and how they see it versus how I see it. It just gets us on the same page.”

Among the players who have taken part in the sessions are wide receiver Pierre Garçon and running back Jerick McKinnon, likely to be among the team’s top pass-catchers this season.

Garoppolo’s five starts with the 49ers came after Garçon was sidelined with a neck injury after eight games. Garçon was on pace for a 1,000-yard season before going on injured reserve. The 49ers targeted McKinnon as an upgrade over Carlos Hyde due to his playmaking ability, including catching passes out of the backfield.

McKinnon and center Weston Richburg were players the 49ers front office heavily pursued and signed on the first day of free agency. They were the first major pieces the 49ers added after signing Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million contract in February.

“Those are good guys,” Garoppolo said. “They fit what we’re trying to do here and they work hard, so when you bring that to the table, it’s always good.”

Garoppolo is continuing in his first offseason with the 49ers something he said he began during his days at Rolling Meadows High School in a northwest suburb of Chicago.

”It’s one of those things, when the coaches aren’t there you kind of see a different side of guys,” Garoppolo said. “They open up a little bit or tell you how they see a concept compared to how it is written in the book. Just a little bit at a time for us to talk through things, I guess.”