49ers

49ers camp report: DeForest Buckner gets reps at edge rusher

49ers camp report: DeForest Buckner gets reps at edge rusher

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are looking for ways to create more production from their best player.

DeForest Buckner got plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season, but he had just three sacks to show for it while rushing as an interior defensive lineman. That could change this season, if the two practices this week are any indication.

Buckner was excited to learn recently he would occasionally line up at defensive end.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Buckner said on Monday. “The coaches are experimenting with me on the edge. It changes the game up a little bit, shows my versatility. I’m just trying to affect the game.

“I went into meetings one day and they said, ‘Hey, Buck, you’re going to be at the end position in this package.’ So I was like, ‘OK, sounds good.’ It’s a confidence-booster that they can see that I’m able to rush on the edge.”

The 49ers have gone four consecutive seasons without a pass-rusher recording as many as seven sacks in a season.

The 49ers are expecting Buckner and Solomon Thomas, the team’s first-round picks of the 2016 and ’17 seasons, to make improvements in that area. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said that is where Thomas has made his biggest strides during his second NFL training camp.

“When you watch him on one-on-ones and pass rush, it’s much improved,” Saleh said of Thomas. “He’s winning consistently."

Offensive Play of the Day

There were no explosive offensive plays until the final snap of practice. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo lobbed a deep ball 45 yards down the field toward Marquise Goodwin. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon appeared to have good coverage but mistimed his leap. Goodwin kept his concentrations to come down with the ball inbounds for a touchdown. Goodwin had the other candidate for offensive play of the day when he held on to a 25-yard pass from Garoppolo despite absorbing an inadvertant hit from safety Adrian Colbert.

Defensive Play of the Day

In a move-the-chains period in practice, the 49ers’ offense faced a third-and-1 situation. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk got the call on a run play up the middle, but Thomas was not fooled. He blasted into the backfield between the guard and center and stopped Juszczyk for a 1-yard loss.

Ward Back in the Mix

Cornerback Jimmie Ward, who missed some practice time with a mild hamstring strain, was back with a full day of work on Monday. He saw some action with the first-team defense in Richard Sherman’s spot. He also lined up in the team’s dime package in a linebacker role. “He’s one of the better football players,” Saleh said of Ward, who has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. “The challenge for Jimmie is to get on the football field. And when he is on the football field, he is one of the better players.”

Injury report

Nickel back K’Waun Williams will miss at least this week of practice due to a low-ankle sprain. He could progress back into practice next week.

Out this week, progress back: CB Williams (ankle), CB Sherman (hamstring), G Garnett (knee), G Flynn (knee), LB Brock Coyle (hip) Week to week: DL Armstead (hamstring) Day to day: LB Nzeocha (elbow). Limited: LB Warner (chest), TE Wick (knee), LB Coyle 
 Cornerback Richard Sherman, offensive linemen Joshua Garnett (knee) and JP Flynn (knee), and linebacker Brock Coyle (hip) are listed as out this week and “progress back next week.”

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead (hamstring) is listed as “week to week,” while linebacker Mark Nzeocha (elbow) is “day to day.”

Linebackers Fred Warner (chest) and Brock Coyle (hip), and tight end Cole Wick (knee) were limited.

This ‘n’ That

Mike Person and Erik Magnuson are making their cases to open the season in the starting lineup. Person and Magnuson split time at center and right guard during practice on Monday. Starting center Weston Richburg took a veteran rest day. Person and Magnuson are the only two players competing for the right guard position, as Jonathan Cooper has yet to practice and Garnett is out indefinitely with a knee condition. . . Wide receiver Trent Taylor and tight end Cole Hikutini took part in 11-on-11 drills and made receptions. . . Rookie D.J. Reed lined up with the first-team defense in place of Williams. “He’s coming along well,” Saleh said. “He fights his tail off. He’s got a great mindset, a great mentality. He’s fighting. We’re asking him a lot for a rookie to learn free safety and nickel. He’s doing a good job with it.” . . . Defensive linemen Jeremiah Attaochu made a hustle play to strip receiver Steven Dunbar of the ball after a completion from Nick Mullens. . . Colbert forced a fumble of running back Jerick McKinnon. . . Rookie receiver Dante Pettis had two receptions from C.J. Beathard, including one of a throw that was not intended for him. Beathard delivered a pass that deflected off tight end Ross Dwelley on an underneath route. Pettis caught the pass further down the field. . . Linebacker Reuben Foster appeared to be slowed during one-on-one drills with some leg tightness, but he broke up a Garoppolo pass intended for Aaron Burbridge near the end of practice.

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo could be 'next Mahomes,' AFC executive says

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AP

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo could be 'next Mahomes,' AFC executive says

When John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan traded for Jimmy Garoppolo 18 months ago, he was the darling of the NFL. Much was expected of the quarterback when he came to Santa Clara, and he delivered by leading the 49ers to a 5-0 record to finish the 2017 season.

But a torn ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 season put Jimmy G on the backburner.

That allowed second-year Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to step up and take the league by storm. The former first-round draft pick led Kansas City to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and took them to the AFC Championship game, where they lost to the New England Patriots, and he later was voted 2018 NFL MVP.

So, who could be the next player to have a breakout season like Mahomes?

Apparently, it's Garoppolo.

"He's got the best chance to be the next Mahomes," an unnamed AFC team executive recently told Bleacher Report.

[RELATED: Garoppolo raves over player performance staff]

Garoppolo is nearing the end of his rehab process, and Shanahan expects the 27-year-old quarterback to be ready for training camp in July.

The 49ers had high hopes for the 2018 season, and Garoppolo's ACL injury caused those hopes to come crashing down. Now, with a revamped defense and more help coming through the draft, expectations again are high in Santa Clara. A big season from Garoppolo would go a long way to helping the 49ers achieve their goal of making a deep playoff run.

NFL draft: Who should 49ers target or avoid if they trade back from No. 2?

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USATSI

NFL draft: Who should 49ers target or avoid if they trade back from No. 2?

So what happens if the Arizona Cardinals select Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa with the No. 1 overall pick?

Until the Cardinals actually announce their decision – as most have believed for a while – that Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is their man, there remains a bit of intrigue. The 49ers must wait patiently at No. 2.

If Bosa goes No. 1, the 49ers would likely listen to offers to trade out of No. 2. That’s where things could get very interesting. And it opens up a lot more possibilities for the 49ers to consider with their first- and second-round draft picks.

Here are a couple of players the 49ers could consider if they trade back from No. 2 – either with their first or second-round selection -- and a couple of highly rated players they should not be tempted to select:

Boom?

In a trade-back scenario, the 49ers could still get their edge rusher.

Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns has size, athleticism and room to get better. Just a shade below the first wave of edge rushers, Burns might end up topping them all. He played three seasons in college and finished with 10 sacks in 12 games last season before declaring for the draft.

At 6-foot-5, 249 pounds and with 4.53 speed, Burns would be used immediately as a nickel pass-rush specialist. That is fine. That is what the 49ers need, and eventually that role can expand.

Bust?

Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary should have been a dominant player in college. He was not. He has measurables off the charts, but not the production that should go along with it.

His skills and athleticism are freakish. But after three seasons of college football, he recorded a total – a total – of just 9.5 sacks. And, now, we’re supposed to believe that he is going to get 9.5 sacks a season while going up against better competition?

Gary has started his own sports agency. It seems like the best plan of attack would be to get established as a really good NFL player before devoting so much attention to marketing.

Boom?

Their new wide receivers coach was not there to work with him at the Senior Bowl, but South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel already showed what he can do in the 49ers’ offense.

Samuel has a trait that coach Kyle Shanahan likes in his wide receivers – the ability to get open. He is a very good route-runner, and he is tough. At 5-foot-11, 214 pounds, he might not have the size of some of the other receivers the 49ers might consider in the second round, but he has the ability to separate quickly.

Samuel would give the 49ers a nice tool in the red zone, where the club has struggled mightily the past two seasons.

[RELATED:  Jimmy G couldn't disappoint 49ers with eyes on him during rehab]

Bust?

The 49ers probably will not have the opportunity to pass on Ole Miss D.K. Metcalf in the second round, and that will be just fine for them.

Metcalf has otherworldly measurables. But Metcalf was far-and-away the second-best receiver on his college team. The 49ers should prefer A.J. Brown to Metcalf, who turned off more than a few people with the 49ers during their contentious meeting at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Metcalf is 6-3, 228 pounds. He ran a 4.33 at the combine. Yet, he put up pedestrian numbers in college – approximately half the production of Brown. Some team will take him in the middle of the first round, and that team will probably end up being disappointed.