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.

Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park


Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park

The 49ers arrived in Houston on Tuesday, where they will hold joint practices with the Texans on Wednesday and Thursday. On Sunday, the two teams will play a preseason game.

With no team activities schedule on Tuesday, rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis took full advantage of the free time. His father is Astros third base coach Gary Pettis, so the younger Pettis donned Astros gear and took batting practice at Minute Maid Park.

In video posted by Fox 26's Mark Berman, Pettis deposited a few balls into the Crawford Box.

Check out the video here:

49ers notes: Practices heat up with Texans in Houston

49ers notes: Practices heat up with Texans in Houston

The 49ers arrived Monday evening in Houston, where temperatures in the mid-90s – and more than a bit of humidity -- await the team’s two practices this week against the Texans.

After 14 practices at the team’s facility in Santa Clara, the 49ers figure to learn a lot more about their roster while facing a different opponent during two-hour practice sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’re very sick of going against the same scheme every day,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It’ll be nice to go against something else, you know? Offensively and defensively, and it gives you two practices where you can go against different stuff, which prepares all your players for what they’re going to see during the year.

“And just for the monotony of camp, it’s good to change it up.”

The 49ers will be a bit short-handed for the practices. Eleven players sat out the team’s practice Monday due to injuries. Running back Joe Williams is scheduled to rejoin the team. The 49ers also plan to sign veteran running back Alfred Morris. The 49ers’ top two running backs, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida, are out for the remainder of the preseason with injuries.

The injuries across the board have impacted how the 49ers practice. Because of thinning depth, the 49ers do not have enough healthy bodies to form a full No. 3 unit.

“Once you start losing those guys, it adds a lot on another person,” Shanahan said. “Once you see a guy having to take reps with the twos and with the threes, it’s just a matter of time before that guy gets hurt. Those are the things you’ve got to pay attention to. You can get away with it for a little bit and you know you’re going to put a lot on a guy, but eventually once you see it’s too much you’ve got to stop the drill and just move on. It’s not worth it.”

After two practices against the Texans, the 49ers will have a day off on Friday before facing Houston on Saturday in the second preseason game for both teams.

McGlinchey Readies for Work vs. Watt

After being satisfied with his performance during his 23 snaps in the exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys, 49ers rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey is bracing for what figures to be his best learning experience since being the No. 9 overall draft pick.

McGlinchey is likely to go up against Texans perennial All-Pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt in two practices. The reports out of Houston is that Watts has looked close to his former self after two injury-plagued seasons. He did not play in the Texans’ exhibition opener, though. McGlinchey could see practice time against Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

“It’s definitely going to be fun,” McGlinchey said. “It’s why you play in the NFL, to play against the biggest and baddest dudes.”

Morris Steps in to Compete

Part of the reason the 49ers are bringing in Morris to join the team is because he already is familiar with Shanahan’s system. But Morris will also get an opportunity to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster. Morris spent two seasons with Shanahan in Washington, and Shanahan said he should have no problem picking up the 49ers playbook.

“There’s not big changes and it’s not that tough for a back,” Shanahan said. “They’ve got to set their track the right way and you hand it off to them and go run. We have a way that we coach guys and stuff, but everyone, when you’re away from something, it’s going to take some time. He is going to be rusty with that stuff, but he’ll get the hang of it.”

Undrafted rookie OL Alan Knott was waived to make room for Morris. 

This ‘N’ That

Shanahan bristled when asked if the injuries of training camp could have been avoided. “Soft tissue injuries, yeah, they can be prevented by having them not doing anything and sit there and just not get hurt and then it will happen in Week 1,” Shanahan said. “It’s just part of it. I think we are pretty smart with what we do. There’s a fine line, a very fine line. If a player is complaining about being tight, we can sit there and shut him down and then every single person who ever complains about being tight, you can shut down and then ask a group of 90 people in training camp to raise their hands on who’s tight. Ninety people will raise their hand.” . . . McKinnon grabbed behind his right knee after sustaining an injury in practice on Sunday. The fears were alleviated when an MRI revealed a calf strain, which will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the exhibition season. “No one realizes your calf goes that high,” Shanahan said. “So I think he was worried about it just where it was and then once he got the assurance that it was his calf, it made sense that he didn’t have that much pain. I think he felt much better. But at least he feels good that he’ll be ready for Week 1.”