49ers

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

Before starting six games as a rookie, Rashard Robinson had not played football since the 2014 season at LSU.

Yet, Robinson is the closest thing to a sure bet to win a starting job among 49ers cornerbacks.

Tramaine Brock was projected as the starting cornerback on the other side until his arrest on suspicion of a troubling domestic incident prompted the 49ers to release him more than three months ago.

The 49ers open training camp next week, and here are the top competitions for starting jobs on defense:

LEFT CORNERBACK
Keith Reaser has yet to make an NFL start while appearing in 28 games the past two seasons. The 49ers rotated cornerbacks with the first-team defense during the offseason program, and Reaser put himself in position to enter camp as the slight favorite to replace Brock.

Veterans Dontae Johnson and Will Davis will try to work their way into the picture. And the 49ers are hopeful talented rookie Ahkello Witherspoon will develop a willingness to play with more physicality. The 49ers selected Witherspoon in the third round. He has the size and all the tools to win the starting job, but there were times in college he showed an alarming lack of aggression as a tackler.

NICKELBACK
K'Waun Williams is healthy after missing last season due to an ankle injury and falling out of favor with the Cleveland Browns. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, one of the few holdovers from Chip Kelly’s staff, thinks highly of Williams after coaching him with the Browns. Hafley said he believes Williams can become one of the top covermen in the slot in the entire league.

Williams lined up with the first-team defense throughout the offseason program. His biggest competition could come from Will Redmond, whom the 49ers selected in the third round of the 2016 draft but did not play as a rookie due to a knee injury. Redmond has some rust to knock off, but he did not appear to show signs of the injury during the offseason program.

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END
Arik Armstead is not the prototypical player at the “Leo” position. At 6 foot 7, Armstead does not have the low center of gravity that is typically associated with that position. But Armstead is certainly not lacking for athleticism.

The 49ers need a more consistent pass rush to assist their unproven cornerbacks, and this spot will be counted upon to provide more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Veteran Elvis Dumervil, who believes he has regained his explosion off the edge after being hampered with Achilles injury, was added last month to do what he does best. Dumervil, 33, enters the season with 99 career sacks.

Aaron Lynch is on notice as he enters his fourth NFL season. He moves from outside linebacker to defensive end in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme. Multiple competitions will be ongoing at this position, as the 49ers will look to determine the best fits for base downs, as well as passing situations.

WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER
The signing of free-agent Malcolm Smith raised a few eyebrows. It was just the offseason program, but Smith was as impressive as any player on the team during the non-padded practices. He is clearly comfortable in Robert Saleh’s scheme, which is based on the Seattle Seahawks’ defense.

The 49ers had Reuben Foster rated as their No. 3 prospect in the entire draft. They traded with the Seahawks to move up to select him at No. 31 overall. The 49ers seem thoroughly unconcerned with Foster’s shoulder. The club believes he will be medically cleared for the opening of training camp.

The 49ers might want to bring Foster along slowly, but it is clear they do not expect him to be a backup for very long.

49ers call up DB Tyvis Powell from practice squad

49ers call up DB Tyvis Powell from practice squad

KANSAS CITY – Starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt is questionable for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a shoulder injury, so the 49ers took out an insurance policy.

The team promoted defensive back Tyvis Powell to the active roster from the practice squad on Saturday and released linebacker Terence Garvin.

Powell, Antone Exum and D.J. Reed saw action at strong safety in practices this week, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said.

Powell, who saw action in three games for the 49ers last season, moved to safety late in training camp this summer. He was among the team’s final cuts but was immediately signed to the practice squad. Powell will wear No. 30 on Sunday against the Chiefs. Garvin spent one game with the 49ers and recorded one special-teams tackle against the Detroit Lions last week.

NFL picks: 49ers vs. Chiefs Week 3 score predictions

NFL picks: 49ers vs. Chiefs Week 3 score predictions

The 49ers (1-1) take their show on the road to Kansas City on Sunday as they face the Chiefs (2-0) in Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season.

San Francisco will be tasked with trying to slow down Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has thrown 10 touchdown passes and has yet to be intercepted in two games.

Running back Matt Breida will look to reclaim his place as the NFL's leading rusher. The second-year back enters the game with 184 yards, trailing former 49er Carlos Hyde, who has 203 rushing yards following Cleveland's win on Thursday night.

NFL experts from around the country have made their picks for Sunday's clash, and all of them see the Chiefs dropping the 49ers to 1-2.

Nick Wagoner, ESPN.com: Chiefs 37, 49ers 31

Adam Teicher, ESPN.com: Chiefs 34, 49ers 28

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Chiefs 31, 49ers 28

Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Chiefs 37, 49ers 30

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: Chiefs, 30, 49ers 23

Vincent Frank, Forbes.com: Chiefs 41, 49ers 31

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This Sunday, be sure to watch 49ers Pregame Live at 9 a.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and 49ers Postgame Live immediately after the game on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus and live streaming on the NBC Sports app. Greg Papa, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Matt Maiocco and Laura Britt will have everything you need to know from the 49ers’ game in Kansas City.