OTA notes: 49ers' vertical passing game needs time

OTA notes: 49ers' vertical passing game needs time

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Brian Hoyer might have confidence in his ability to throw the ball down the field, but during the 49ers’ practice Thursday the vertical game was non-existent.

“The way he throws is different than the way Matt Ryan throws. No better, no worse,” said 49ers passing game specialist Mike LaFleur, who was on Kyle Shanahan’s offensive staff with the Atlanta Falcons the past two seasons. . “It’s just getting used to our receivers. The angles they’re taking. It takes time. It took Matt real time.

“It’s going to take the guys (receivers) going down the field time to get that timing, that rhythm. What angle? How far can he actually throw it. Because I know Hoyer has a lot of confidence in his arm and how far he can throw it. And we have some guys that can run and get down the field.”

On Friday, they held their final session of organized team activities before holding two days of practice next week at the squad's mandatory minicamp. Thursday's practice was open to the local media.

The 49ers quarterbacks completed 21 passes to 14 different receivers during Thursday’s practice. Few of the passes were completed down the field.

Here are some notes from the practice session:

--Rookie slot receiver Trent Taylor and veteran Pierre Garçon caught a team-high three passes apiece. Jeremy Kerley, DeAndre Carter and running back Matt Breida caught two apiece.

--The 49ers’ defense produced seven “sacks” during the practice with undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert break through for three sacks. Gilbert is lining up with at strongside linebacker. Tank Carradine, DeForest Buckner, Chris Jones and NaVorro Bowman also had sacks.

“Hopefully, it’s a learning experience and we’re better for it,” 49ers offensive line coach John Benton said. “But (I’m) not happy about it today.”

--Bowman broke up two passes, including a Hoyer pass intended for Carlos Hyde out of the backfield that ended up in linebacker Malcolm Smith’s hands for an interception. Bowman could have come up with a leaping interception in the end zone, but the ball slid through his hands. Bowman also ran stride for stride with tight end Blake Bell on a deep Hoyer incompletion.

--On the first play of an extended red-zone session, Smith was in position to make a big hit on Kerley on a crossing pattern at the 5-yard line.

--Cornerback Dontae Johnson had an interception off a pass that deflected off Garçon’s hands. Johnson and Keith Reaser lined up with the 49ers’ first-team defense while presumptive starting cornerback Rashard Robinson worked on a side field due to a minor injury. Reaser broke up a pass intended for Garçon.

--The 49ers made two transactions, including the official signing of veteran pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil to a two-year contract. The 49ers also signed former New Hampshire offensive lineman Andrew Lauderdale, who originally signed with the New Orleans Saints but was waived two weeks later.

To make room for Dumervil and Lauderdale, the 49ers waived offensive lineman Evan Goodman (Arizona State) and safety Malik Golden (Penn State).

--Hyde got the handoffs on seven of the 49ers’ 19 run plays during 11-on-11 drills.

--Running back Raheem Mostert dropped what would have been a 4-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Matt Barkley. Three plays later, rookie tight end Cole Hikutini had C.J. Beathard’s 4-yard pass slip through his hands in the end zone.

--It was a rough day for the tight ends. Rookie George Kittle had a false start, and Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald dropped passes.

--The 49ers are trying to figure out with Joshua Garnett fits best along the offensive line. Benton said he initially felt as if Garnett was best on the right side, where he played most of last season. But in recent days, Benton said he believes he’s playing both sides equally.

Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week


Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week

Daniel Kilgore’s mind was at ease on Feb. 14 after signing a three-year contract extension to remain with the 49ers – the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.

But all that changed on the first day of the open negotiating period when he learned the 49ers reached an agreement with New York Giants free-agent Weston Richburg on a five-year contract. The same firm, Rep1, represents Kilgore and Richburg.

“Originally, I knew Weston was on the Niners’ board for left guard,” Kilgore said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “When I knew that he was going to sign with the 49ers, I was thinking, ‘Hey, we just got a new left guard.’ I hate it for Laken (Tomlinson).

“But, then, you kind of find out he was coming for center. That’s when I was thrown for a loop.”

Kilgore described the days that followed as “crazy,” “frustrating” and “heart-breaking.”

One day after the 49ers officially signed Richburg to a five-year, $47.5 million contract, Kilgore was traded to the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers got little in return for delivering Kilgore to what appears to be a good situation. The team’s swapped draft spots in the seventh round, with the 49ers now choosing at No. 223 overall, while the Dolphins pick at No. 227.

Kilgore lands in a situation to be a starter. He also received, in essence, a 13.3-percent raise for leaving California to go to Florida, where there is no state income tax. The 49ers structured Kilgore's contract so the first payout of a $2.3 million roster bonus was scheduled for after the start of the new league year – after the trade. The Dolphins pick up the entirety of the three-year, $11.75 million contract the 49ers negotiated with Kilgore.

Kilgore said he was never asked to compete for a job at guard with the 49ers. He said he did not request a trade, either. He was told, in essence, he was no longer in the 49ers’ plans.

General manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area last week both Richburg and Kilgore are best at center. To ask either to submit to a change of position would set up one of them for failure.

Looking back, Kilgore said he wonders if he should have turned down the 49ers’ offer and gone into free agency. But that approach had its risks, too. All he wanted, he said, was to be compensated fairly and remain with the 49ers.

“I was really thrown for a shock,” said Kilgore, who won the Bobb McKittrick Award last season for his displays of courage, intensity and sacrifice. “You just wonder, ‘What If I did go free agency?’ (But) that wasn’t me. I knew where that team was going. I’m familiar with the area, familiar with the coaching staff, my best friends are on the team. So I knew this is where I wanted to be. I didn’t see myself going anywhere else.”

Now, he will be moving to South Florida, where he will attempt to establish what he felt he had with the 49ers.

“You want to be there and be a part of something on the rise," Kilgore said. "That was the frustrating thing, that you’re no longer going to be there. It’s frustrating and heart-breaking, but you move on. I’m going to South Florida, and that makes things a heck of a lot better.”

Kilgore said he had some hard conversations with Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan last week. Ultimately, he said he respects both men for the way they handled an awkward situation. Lynch said last week when the 49ers signed Kilgore to an extension, the club believed there was a likelihood Richburg would not still be available a month later as a free agent. Richburg was the only center the 49ers would have sought to replace Kilgore, Lynch said.

“I hope the fans out there know the truth about everything and know that Kyle and John did it in the best interest of me and the best interest for the team moving forward,” Kilgore said. “There’s no bad grudges or anything like that. We’re all still friends at the end of the day.”

Report: 49ers scheduled to meet with free-agent defensive back


Report: 49ers scheduled to meet with free-agent defensive back

Versatile free-agent defensive back Jaylen Watkins is reportedly scheduled to visit the 49ers on Wednesday.

Watkins’ meeting with the 49ers coincides with veteran cornerback Richard Sherman’s appearance at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for a noon press conference. Sherman signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on March 10 – one day after the Seattle Seahawks released him.

The 49ers are in the market for backups in the defensive backfield. Watkins (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) started five games in five games in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles while appearing in 36 games.

Watkins, 26, played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

The NFL Network reported Watkins’ meeting with the 49ers is the first of multiple visits he has scheduled.