Hyde lowers the boom on 49ers rookie Witherspoon

Hyde lowers the boom on 49ers rookie Witherspoon

SANTA CLARA – General manager John Lynch admitted the one concern he had about cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon as he evaluated him before the draft was his willingness to be physical.

Witherspoon was involved in the biggest hit of training camp through five practices. However, he was on the wrong end of the collision.

The 49ers do not perform any live tackling in practices. Although there is padded, contact work, the defensive players are instructed to “thud” and release -- instead of tackling to the ground.

Apparently, the same rules do not allow for players on offense.

Running back Carlos Hyde leveled the boom on a flat-footed Witherspoon at the goal line at the end of a 6-yard touchdown run.

“I’m not worried about that last play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “They’re not tackling drills, and that caught him off guard. We’ll see when we’re actually allowed to tackle and I have full faith that Ahkello’s going to do exactly what he’s been coached to do.

“He’s not a coward by any means. He will get in there. He will tackle. He’s been showing up in run fits. He’s physical with his hands at the line of scrimmage. So we’re excited to see what shows up on game day.”

Witherspoon had a solid day in coverage, as he attempts to insert himself into the competition at cornerback. But while Keith Reaser missed his second day of practice with a knee injury, Dontae Johnson has taken the biggest strides toward securing the starting job opposite of Rashard Robinson.

Johnson had his best day of camp, including a leaping interception of a Brian Hoyer pass intended for Jeremy Kerley. It was Hoyer’s first interception during 11-on-11 drills since the opening of training camp. Johnson also got physical to break up pass for a Aaron Burbridge in the end zone during 7-on-7 drills.

The 49ers want to see a style of play such as what Johnson demonstrated on Wednesday. When the games begin, the best way for Witherspoon to rise up the depth chart will be to feature a more physical style and deliver the hits instead of being on the receiving side.

--Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner sustained a left ankle injury midway through practice. Although he initially appeared to be in significant pain, he ended up watching the remainder of practice from the sideline.

--Safety Eric Reid (ankle) and tight end George Kittle (hamstring) participated in individual drills. Safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), linebacker Eli Harold (head), cornerback Keith Reaser (knee) did not practice and are listed as day to day.

--Defensive back Adrian Colbert recorded an interception of a Matt Barkley pass after a miscommunication with his receiver placed no offensive player anywhere near Colbert in the middle of the field.

--Ahmad Brooks recorded two sacks and broke up a Hoyer pass over the middle that was inteded for tight end Garrett Celek.

--Barkley hooked up with undrafted rookie tight end Cole Hikutini over safety Lorenzo Jerome for a deep pass play down the seam.

--Rookie Trent Taylor made an exceptional catch during a 7-on-7 drill, making a leaping catch of a Barkley pass, then, somehow managing to get both feet inbounds at the pylon at the left front corner of the end zone.

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine


49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care


Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

SANTA CLARA – In less than a year since a group of former 49ers players came together to form the Golden Heart Fund, the non-profit organization has provided valuable assistance.

“We’ve made some progress with the idea of knowing there are some people in need, so we’ve been able to make some grants to some of the ex-Niners,” Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We’ve been able to respond. This is more about us being able to give guys the ability to know they can have, as (former 49ers linebacker and Golden Heart Fund board member) Ron Ferrari says, a hand up not a hand out.”

The organization is in the midst of a fund-raising drive this week in conjunction with "Dwight Clark Day" on Sunday. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and Clark will be the guest of honor. More than 35 players from the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team are expected to be in attendance.

Clark played nine seasons for the 49ers and provided the most memorable play in franchise history with “The Catch” against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, which propelled the organization to its first Super Bowl. Clark served as a front-office executive for a decade after his playing days.

In March, Clark announced he was diagnosed with ALS. He is scheduled to attend Sunday’s game and make some remarks at halftime from a suite.

“It’s unbelievable we are having an opportunity to celebrate an incredible day for this gentleman,” Lott said. “We can all say there was a moment in time in which we stood on his shoulders after making that catch. Now, we get a chance to lift him up a little bit and let him know how much we all care.”

Lott said Clark has been a champion of the Golden Heart Fund from its inception. Past and current 49ers ownership has supported the organization, which provides financial support for former 49ers players in times of physical, emotional and financial need.

“It’s the spirit of Dwight,” Lott said. “It’s more about the funds going in through his efforts. He’s paying it forward.”

--The public can made a direct contribution to the fund at GoldenHeartFund.org.

--Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at Sunday’s game will benefit the Golden Heart Fund.

--Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sales of Dwight Clark apparel purchased on game day will go to the fund.

--Half of all proceeds from admission to the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium throughout the year will go to the charity.

-- On Sunday, Nov. 19, Levi’s Stadium and race grand marshal Roger Craig will host the first Golden Heart 4.9K Run with all proceeds from the event going to the Golden Heart Fund. Runners can register GoldenHeartRun.com.