SANTA CLARA – Rookie linebacker Fred Warner was nursing a chest injury, so he went out to practice Thursday wearing a blue jersey, signifying he was off-limits for contact.
Yet, it was Warner who supplied the biggest hit of training camp on a day he was supposed to steer clear of his offensive teammates.
“It’s one of those that happened so quick,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “There were a lot of plays in there where Fred did avoid contact like he was supposed to. But that one was so quick and so fast that it was almost like he was bracing for contact, so it was completely accidental.”
Warner broke up a Jimmy Garoppolo pass over the middle that was intended for fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Warner separated Juszczyk from the ball, and Juszczyk landed flat on his back with a thud.
Juszczyk remained on the ground for a full minute. After he got to his feet, Warner went over to apologize. Juszczyk returned to practice in the next period. Afterward, Juszczyk said he got the wind knocked out of him.
Warner is competing for a role in the 49ers’ defense. He figures to be a standout on special teams, while factoring into the team’s sub packages due to his coverage skills.
“He’s improving quite a bit,” 49ers tight end Garrett Celek said. “The guy knows how to hit. In practice, he’s hit a couple guys really hard. Some people don’t have that in them. He has it in him. And he’s a smart player as well.”
Offensive Play of the Day
Garoppolo’s ability to connect on the deep ball was a facet of his game that appeared to be lacking during the offseason program and the first couple practices of training camp. But Garoppolo appears to be dialing in with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. Early in practice, Garoppolo executed a play fake and unloaded a pass that traveled 45 yards down field. Goodwin ran past right cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to make the catch in stride en route to a 75-yard touchdown. Garoppolo and Goodwin also hooked up on a 40-yard pass later in practice against the coverage of Witherspoon and safety Adrian Colbert.
Defensive Play of the Day
Garoppolo’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage, and rookie Tarvarius Moore tumbled to the ground to make the interception. Moore appears to be getting more comfortable playing cornerback after mostly playing safety during his college career at Southern Mississippi. The 49ers invested a third-round draft pick in Moore, who also broke up a Nick Mullens pass attempt two plays later.
There was concern after tight end Cole Wick, who spent most of last season on the practice squad, sustained a right knee injury upon landing awkwardly after jumping for Mullens’ sideline throw. Wick was taken in for further evaluation. The 49ers were already down one tight end, as Cole Hikutini is expected to miss a week with a groin injury.
The other players who remain out of practice are: Defensive lineman Arik Armstead (hamstring), guard Joshua Garnett (knee), linebacker Brock Coyle (hip) and offensive lineman JP Flynn (knee).
This ‘n’ That
The following veterans were given “recovery days” and did not practice: Joe Staley, Pierre Garçon, Jerick McKinnon, DeForest Buckner, Earl Mitchell, Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith . . . Garnett has missed four consecutive practices. Jonathan Cooper, Mike Person and Erik Magnuson are working at right guard. . . Colbert made an interception of a Garoppolo pass that deflected off the hands of wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. . . Receiver Max McCaffrey and safety Chanceller James both had their hands on a C.J. Beathard pass, but McCaffrey came away with the football after gaining control of it when both players went to the ground.