Adrian Colbert

49ers GM Lynch: Colbert shows characteristics of 'big-time starter'

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AP

49ers GM Lynch: Colbert shows characteristics of 'big-time starter'

SANTA CLARA -- Just hours before John Lynch was announced as a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist for the sixth time, he spoke glowingly about a young, promising safety.

Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl performer during his 15-year career. In his role as 49ers general manager, he saw a lot that he liked from seventh-round draft pick Adrian Colbert two weeks ago against the New York Giants.

Colbert, making his first career start, sustained a broken thumb early in the game. He still played every snap on defense, recorded four tackles and showed his range in the deep middle to break up two passes.

“That was a really, really good football game and he displayed some things in that game that are characteristics of a starter and a big-time starter,” Lynch said during a 45-minute session with reporters on Tuesday at Levi's Stadium.

The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on free safety Jimmie Ward, whom they appear to view as their starter for next season. But Colbert has a chance to figure prominently in their future, too.

“If he plays like he did last week, you consider a lot of things,” Lynch said.

Here are other things you need to know from what Lynch said on Tuesday:

SOLOMON THOMAS ON TRACK
The 49ers invested the No. 3 overall pick on Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. He appeared in eight games, with six starts, before missing the past two games with an MCL sprain.

Thomas has not been spectacular, recording 26 tackles and two sacks. But Lynch said he is pleased with Thomas’ development.

“I think some people are saying, 'The No. 3 pick, maybe perhaps should be a little more dynamic.' But his play has been solid," Lynch said. "We knew it would be a process. He's a young kid that I think, physically, he's going to grow in stature."

BODY MAKEOVER FOR JOSHUA GARNETT
Guard Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, did not distinguish himself during the offseason program or early in training camp. Then, he sustained a knee injury with a lengthy timetable for recovery.

His timetable would have enabled him to play this season. But the 49ers opted to take “the long-term view” and place him on season-ending injured reserve to put him in a better position to realize his potential upon his return.

But, first, that means Garnett had to change his body composition. Lynch said he challenged Garnett and the team’s strength and conditioning staff to put in the work to make Garnett stronger, more agile and in better condition to succeed in the 49ers’ zone-blocking scheme.

“We certainly hope he responds,” Lynch said.

CONTRACT TALKS ONGOING
Whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo, Carlos Hyde, Dontae Johnson, Eric Reid, Daniel Kilgore, Aaron Lynch or others, the 49ers have been active in discussing the possibilities of contract extensions.

John Lynch declined to speak about which specific players the organization is trying to extend beyond this season – only to say there are ongoing talks.

“I will tell you there are players we’re talking to their representatives, but I’m going to get into who, when, why,” Lynch said.

BOOKEND TACKLES PART OF THE PLAN
The 49ers are allowed to enter into extension talks with Trent Brown after this season. Whether they are able to work out a long-term contract remains to be seen, but Lynch made no secret he hopes he can keep the tackles together into the future.

Left tackle Joe Staley, 33, appears to have at least a couple more season in him. He scored some big points with the organization with his willingness to return to action just two weeks after sustaining a broken eye socket.

“We love Joe Staley -- love the way he plays, think he’s a really good scheme fit for the offense we play,” Lynch said.

Lynch said he likes the idea of keeping Staley and Brown together for the foreseeable future.

“We feel there are a lot of places where we need to improve,” Lynch said. “And you’re always trying to improve, but those two guys are cornerstones for the next couple, few years.”

ARMSTEAD HAS 'BRIGHT FUTURE'
Defensive lineman Arik Armstead has not produced like a first-round draft pick. And the next time he takes the field for the 49ers, he will be entering his contract year.

Questioning Armstead’s fit for the 49ers’ defensive scheme is reasonable. But Lynch said he believes Armstead has a place with the organization.

“We’re real pleased,” Lynch said. “We think he’s a fit with what we are and who we are, going forward. We think he has a bright future with us.”

Armstead had his best game this season against Washington, a game in which he sustained a broken hand and required season-ending surgery.

“He put it all together,” Lynch said. “It was very encouraging and, at the same time, disappointing.”

ORGANIZATION STUDIES RASH OF INJURIES
The 49ers have 18 players on injured reserve with a variety of physical conditions that knocked them out of action from broken bones to torn ligaments and tendons.

“Some of those things are freak, but, yes, there has been an alarming amount,” Lynch said. “We’re going to study everything. That was part of what I was charged to do, evaluate every facet of the football part of this organization.”

There do not appear to be any obvious answers. Many teams around the league are also experiencing a rash of injuries to star players. On defense, the 49ers lost Armstread (broken hand), linebacker Malcolm Smith (torn pectoral tendon), and safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt (broken forearms) for the season.

“Some of it, broken forearms from two safeties and a broken thumb from a safety, I don’t know what the answer is there,” Lynch said.

“We’re going to take a deep dive – we already are – into why and if there are any common threads. We’re studying it hard.”

49ers snap count: Rookies carry big load on defense

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AP

49ers snap count: Rookies carry big load on defense

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers had five defenders who played all 66 snaps on Sunday in the team’s 31-21 victory over the New York Giants.

Three of those players were rookies, who greatly contributed to the 49ers’ first victory of the season.

Linebacker Reuben Foster, a first-round pick, recorded 10 tackles, including four stops near the line of scrimmage, and allowed just 12 yards in coverage on three pass plays on which he was targeted, according to Pro Football Focus.

Safety Adrian Colbert, a seventh-round draft pick, has taken over as a starter after Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt sustained season-ending broken forearms. Colbert recorded four tackles and showed his range in the deep middle with two passes broken up.

And cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round pick making his third consecutive start since unseating Rashard Robinson, allowed just 24 yards receiving on the four pass plays on which he was targeted.

Also, second-year player Ronald Blair made his second appearance after coming off injured reserve following his recovery from thumb surgery, played 30 snaps and recorded two quarterback sacks, including a forced fumble. The takeaway led to a 49ers touchdown in the second quarter.

On offense, the 49ers compensated for the losses of wide receivers Pierre Garçon and Trent Taylor with a four-player combination that featured Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, rookie Kendrick Bourne and veteran Louis Murphy, who played 27 snaps just days after being signed off the street.

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

OFFENSE
(61 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 61
Running back – Carlos Hyde 46, Kyle Juszczyk 38, Matt Breida 17
Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 48, Aldrick Robinson 31, Kendrick Bourne 29, Louis Murphy 27, Victor Bolden 1
Tight end – Garrett Celek 56, Logan Paulsen 12
Offensive line – Joe Staley 61, Daniel Kilgore 61, Laken Tomlinson 61, Trent Brown 61, Brandon Fusco 61

DEFENSE
(66 plays)
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 52, Leger Douzable 38, Elvis Dumervil 37, Ronald Blair 30, Earl Mitchell 25, Datone Jones 16, D.J. Jones 14, Tony McDaniel 12
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 66, Brock Coyle 60, Eli Harold 37, Dekoda Watson 21
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 66, Ahkello Witherspoon 66, K’Waun Williams 44, Leon Hall 10
Safety – Eric Reid 66, Adrian Colbert 66

SPECIAL TEAMS
(24 plays)
Watson 19, Mark Nzeocha 15, Bolden 15, Antoine Exum 14, Dexter McCoil 14, Ray-Ray Armstrong 14, Bradley Pinion 12, Greg Mabin 11, Breida 10, Blair 8, Johnson 8, Paulsen 8, Raheem Mostert 7, Witherspoon 7, Colbert 7, Harold 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Celek 6, Hall 6, Robbie Gould 5, Zane Beadles 5, Erik Magnuson 5, Staley 5, Kilgore 5, Tomlinson 5, Brown 5, Coyle 5, D.J. Jones 5, Da.Jones 4, Buckner 4, Douzable 4, Reid 4, Bourne 3, Mitchell 3, Hyde 1, Juszczyk 1, Murphy 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB Jimmy Garoppolo

INACTIVE
LB Elijah Lee (knee)
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OT Darrell Williams
WR Trent Taylor (ribs)
TE George Kittle (ankle)
DT Solomon Thomas (knee)

49ers rookie DB gets way too physical during practice against Broncos

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AP

49ers rookie DB gets way too physical during practice against Broncos

SANTA CLARA – If the play had occurred three days later, 49ers rookie safety Adrian Colbert would have been fined $24,309 for an illegal hit.

The 49ers and Denver Broncos held a joint practice Wednesday on the 49ers’ practice fields behind Levi’s Stadium. Both teams were wearing pads, but live tackling was not allowed.

Colbert, a seventh-round draft pick from Miami, temporarily forgot the ground rules established by coaches Kyle Shanahan and Vance Joseph.

During a 7-on-7 period early in practice, Colbert launched himself at defenseless receiver Steven Scheu, a first-year tight end, and leveled him on an incomplete pass. Both players were OK. Players on both teams started pushing and shoving, but it did not turn into a melee.

“I thought our coaches handled it really well,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “First of all, I want to say, Adrian is a tremendous kid. I went over there and said, ‘Adrian, that’s not how we practice.’

“We talked about how we were going to conduct ourselves and he said, ‘Hey, I just lost my head. I was just tracking the ball.’ Next thing you know, he was there. I can’t tell you I haven’t been there myself.”

The 49ers held out Colbert out of some drills to “let things cool down” before he re-entered practice.

The 49ers and Broncos held the first of two days of practices. The teams meet Saturday night at Levi's Stadium in the second exhibition game for both teams.

QUICK SLANTS
--The 49ers’ defense had a very good day against the Broncos, who are trying to figure out whether Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch is their top quarterback. Neither player got much going against the 49ers’ defense on Wednesday.

--The 49ers’ secondary, including cornerbacks Rashard Robinson, Dontae Johnson and K’Waun Williams, held up well in coverage against Broncos wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The Broncos did not shake free for a deep pass completion at any point during the two-hour practice.

--Jaquiski Tartt was back with the first–team defense at free safety. He recorded an interception of Siemian on a pass intended for receiver Kalif Raymond that Robinson tipped into the air.

--Robinson was in coverage during a 7-on-7 drill in which Thomas caught a short touchdown. But Robinson came back on the next play to break up a pass.

--Solomon Thomas and Dekoda Watson got consistent pressure on the quarterback. Pita Taumoepenu routinely got past Broncos offensive linemen during one-on-one pass-rush drills.

--Cornerback Will Davis intercepted a pass from No. 3 quarterback Kyle Sloter during a 7-on-7 drill intended for rookie receiver Isaiah McKenzie.

--Linebacker Reuben Foster broke up a Siemian pass for tight end Virgil Green over the middle. In one-on-one drills, he earlier intercepted a Siemian pass for veteran running back Jamal Charles.

--Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon broke up two passes, including one on which he went high to get his hands on a Siemian pass for Jordan Taylor at the sideline.

--Newly signed cornerback Asa Jackson held up well in one-on-one coverage drills on multiple deep passes.

--Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, a friend of John Lynch, worked with 49ers defensive linemen.