49ers notes: Person of interest in RG competition


49ers notes: Person of interest in RG competition

SANTA CLARA – A leader has quietly emerged in the 49ers’ only competition for a starting job.

Veteran offensive lineman Mike Person has not missed a practice since the opening of training camp. He started at right guard on Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys and did not allow a quarterback pressure on 25 pass attempts, according to Pro Football Focus.

“I’d say Mike’s been the same guy that we knew of, if not a little bit better,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Person, who started 14 games at center in 2015 for the Atlanta Falcons when Shanahan was offensive coordinator.

“He’s got some experience. He’s been around the league. I think he’s gained some confidence, and I thought he looked similar to how he always looks in the game. I thought he did a good job.”

Person played the first 40 snaps at right guard in the 49ers’ 24-21 victory over the Cowboys. He rejoined the 49ers this offseason after entering the league in 2011 as San Francisco’s seventh-round draft pick. He never appeared in a game with the 49ers, but he has played in 43 NFL games (18 starts) with five other teams.

Person has taken the lead to be the 49ers’ starter because the only other competitor to this point has been second-year player Erik Magnuson. Veteran Jonathan Cooper, the favorite when camp opened, and Joshua Garnett have been watching from the sideline.

“I want to get the best guy there,” Shanahan said. “I know we’ve had a couple guys not competing there yet just because of injuries they’ve had. Once we can get everyone there and going and competing, it gives you a better chance to find the best guy. Hopefully, we’ll get Coop back and also get Josh back this week, so we can add two more guys to the mix.”

Cooper is slowly working back from a knee injury he sustained in the final game last season with the Cowboys. Joshua Garnett, the 49ers’ first-round pick in 2016, continues to battle knee discomfort. The 49ers have cleared Garnett to practice, but he has been out since July 28.

“Hopefully, we’ll get some news so we can ease them into individual and stuff on Sunday,” Shanahan said of Garnett. “Hopefully, we get him practiced fully by Houston.”

The 49ers had days off Friday and Saturday, and are scheduled to return to practice in Santa Clara on Sunday. The 49ers will travel to Houston for practices with the Texans on Wednesday and Thursday before the teams square off Saturday night in preseason game No. 2.

Sherman, Armstead, Williams Remain Out

The 49ers held out 14 players from Thursday’s game as precautions due to injury concerns. Cornerbacks Richard Sherman (hamstring) and K’Waun Williams (ankle) and defensive lineman Arik Armstead (hamstring) are not expected to practice or play next week in Houston. Armstead has been out since July 29 with an injury that was expected to keep him sidelined for four weeks. Among the players expected back at practice are are possible to play against Houston are: receiver Trent Taylor, tight end Cole Wick, defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu, linebackers Brock Coyle and Fred Warner, and safety Marcell Harris. None of the injuries sustained in Thursday's game are expected to carry over into the regular season. Linebacker Eli Harold is day-to-day with a knee contusion. Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and offensive tackle Garry Gilliam are in the concussion protocol. Tight end George Kittle and running back Matt Breida sustained separated shoulders but are expected to be available for the start of the regular season.

Sherman as Mentor

Rookie defensive back D.J. Reed sits next to a fellow fifth-round pick in the meeting room. That player is Sherman, whom the Seattle Seahawks chose on Day 3 of the 2011 draft. And after initially being a bit in awe of his new teammate, Reed has eagerly soaked in his knowledge of football and life.

“I’m not going to lie, I was,” Reed said. “He sits next to me, so when I first saw him, I thought, ‘Play it cool, D.J.’ That’s Richard Sherman. That’s a legend.”

Sherman’s most impactful advice for Reed when it comes to off-the-field matters?

“You can’t provide for your family right now like you want to,” Reed said Sherman told him. “You have to really save your money and budget. That’s hard to do because people think once you get in the league you’re a millionaire or something. It’s an illusion.”

Reed added, “He was just telling me, basically, take care of yourself first before you try to take care of others.”

This ‘N’ That

Rookie defensive lineman Jullian Taylor started and played 32 snaps. He helped set up the winning score with his quarterback sack late in the fourth quarter on a third-and-9 play. “He made a lot of plays that everyone saw and he also did his job -- didn’t make many mental mistakes,” Shanahan said. “He played a lot which we needed him to. I thought he played good throughout the whole game.” . . . First-round pick Mike McGlinchey received high marks for his 23-snap outing at right tackle. “By no means was it perfect, but it was very easy to see that the game is not too big for him,” Shanahan said. “He’s very comfortable out there. He looks like the player he looked in college when we studied him, how he’s looked in practice.” . . . After an injury-plagued rookie season, it was an emphasis for Kittle to put in as much offseason work as possible to get his body prepared for hte rigors of an NFL season. Shanahan said Kittle's shoulder injury appeared unpreventable. “Kittle is as much of a pro as there is,” Shanahan said. “That’s why he’s had such a good camp. He’s come back in as good of shape and as healthy as anyone on our team. I think that’s why he’s looked so good. He’s going to play aggressive. He’s going to put it all out on the line. Unfortunately, he dove for a ball, landed on his shoulder in an awkward position and that’s part of football.”

NFL Preview 2019: Jimmy Garoppolo, three other MVP sleepers in the NFC

NFL Preview 2019: Jimmy Garoppolo, three other MVP sleepers in the NFC

Football fans are beginning to get the itch. As teams post graphics counting down the days to the start of the NFL season, hope for all fans is at its highest point. We've been without college and pro football (sorry AAF fans) since early February, but the dog days of summer are just about over and NFL training camps finally begin starting up next week.

With the NFL's designated enemies Bill Belichick and Tom Brady bringing home their sixth Lombardi trophy with the Patriots in 2018, every team in the NFL has its heart set on dethroning the boys from Foxborough.

When it comes to individual awards, several standouts from the NFC brought home hardware last season. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley brought home the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. But when it came to the NFL MVP, there was little debate as to choosing anyone besides Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. 

As we take a look at some of the longshots from the NFC who could grab the throne of NFL MVP, we only considered players who had odds at 80/1 or worse, according to the Westgate Sports Book. With the criteria set, let's examine four potential dark-horse picks for the NFL's most valuable player.

Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers QB

The case for: Garoppolo has shown the ability to quickly adapt to schemes and has won six of his first eight starts with the organization. Several NFL analysts have mentioned Garoppolo as an outside-the-box candidate for MVP, including NBC Sports' NFL Analyst Chris Simms. George Kittle should be even more motivated after a breakout 2018 season, as he can now (hopefully) play an entire season with a franchise QB as opposed to the Nick Mullens/C.J. Beathard experiment the 49ers trotted out last season. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has experience building players into MVP-caliber players, as he was the Falcons' offensive coordinator when Matt Ryan won the MVP in 2016. With one of the NFL's top offensive minds at the helm of the 49ers coaching staff, Garoppolo should be put into plenty of positions to be successful in 2019 and could bring the NFL MVP trophy back to the City by the Bay for the first time since Steve Young won it in 1994.

The case against: Garoppolo has only played eight games under Shanahan, and the lack of proven weapons at the receiver and running back positions could backfire for a QB with limited reps in regular-season action. The team faces the 11th toughest schedule in the NFL this year, and if the defense can't stay healthy, this team will have a hard time staying in games and could force the offense to play from behind frequently. An offensive line that has been hit or miss outside of Joe Staley could regress, all but eliminating Garoppolo's chance at taking home the MVP trophy in February.

Christian McCaffrey, Panthers RB

The case for: One of the best dual-threats in the NFL, the former Stanford standout was dominant both in the run and pass game. McCaffrey had 1,965 scrimmage yards in 2018 with 13 touchdowns, and it is not out of the realm of possibility to see McCaffrey reach the very exclusive 1,000-1,000 club, as he was just 133 receiving yards from it last season. If he were to cross that vaunted threshold with rushing and receiving yards -- and the Panthers return to the form that saw them represent the NFC at Super Bowl 50 -- it would be tough to look past the talented tailback as the NFL's top player.

The case against: A running back hasn't won the MVP since 2012, when Adrian Peterson brought home the honors after rushing for over 2,000 yards. In today's pass-happy NFL, the running back position has become much less valuable and so many teams simply plug and play guys throughout the year. With the Panthers once again having little to no elite options in the receiving core, teams will be stacking the box and focusing much of their attention on McCaffrey on every play, which will limit the chances for him to make big plays out of the backfield. Unless he puts together a record-setting season, it's hard to see a running back hoisting the MVP at season's end.

Aaron Donald, Rams DT

The case for: I know, I know, but just hear me out. Donald was just two sacks shy of the NFL's single-season record for sacks in 2018 and also led the NFL with 27 tackles for loss, which was the eighth-best single-season mark in NFL history. Although opponents likely will continue to deploy double and triple teams on Donald, it hasn't seemed to slow him down much the past few years as he has won back-to-back AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards. A team's overall success often ends up being a significant component of the MVP formula, and if the Rams are among the top two or three teams in the league at the end of the season, it wouldn't be far-fetched to see Donald win the first MVP for a defensive player since Lawrence Taylor in 1986.

The case against: Refer to the last sentence of the above paragraph, as no defender has won the NFL's top crown since LT was prowling the NFL sidelines (which was five years before Donald was even born). In an age of absurd offensive production, the rules and officiating have significantly favored the offenses and that doesn't appear to be changing any time soon. Donald would have to be over-the-top dominant in order to be in the running at season's end.

[RELATED: Why Peter King thinks Jimmy Garoppolo key to 49ers making NFL playoffs]

Dak Prescott, Cowboys QB

The case for: Prescott was gifted one of the NFL's best receivers midseason in 2018 when Amari Cooper was traded to the Cowboys from the Raiders in late October. The Cowboys were a playoff team in 2018, and with most of their offensive weapons returning in 2019, they should be in the thick of the conversation once again in 2019. Dallas also has the second-best offensive line (according to Pro Football Focus) lined up in front of him, which once again will afford Prescott plenty of time in the pocket. If he does take that next step and has a season like the one that earned him the 2016 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, we could see Prescott accepting another major award come February.

The case against: Prescott clearly has not blown away Jerry Jones and the Cowboys' front office, as he is still awaiting a long-term extension with the team. And if Ezekiel Elliott ends up continuing his contentious negotiations with the team into the regular season, it could affect the locker room and generate problems for the 'Boys in 2019. Prescott also reportedly has been tweaking his mechanics in the offseason, which could end up being more of a detriment than a positive. If Elliott ends up still being the focal point of the offense in 2019, Prescott will not even be the top MVP candidate on his own team.

How Kyle Shanahan's 49ers offense impressed Packers' Aaron Rodgers in 2018


How Kyle Shanahan's 49ers offense impressed Packers' Aaron Rodgers in 2018

The 49ers lost to the Green Bay Packers in Week 6 of the 2018 NFL season, but they did win an admirer. 

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told NBC Sports' Chris Simms at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe last week that he was very impressed by Kyle Shanahan's playcalling.

"The stuff they did against us this year ... was unbelievable," Rodgers told Simms on a recent episode of "Unbuttoned" released this week. "You watch on the sidelines going, 'that's pretty cool.'"

San Francisco was without starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo after he tore his ACL in Week 3, but nearly outlasted the Packers in a 33-30 shootout in a cold Monday night matchup on Oct. 15. The 49ers led 30-23 with 13:08 remaining, but Rodgers did Aaron Rodgers Things and marched the Packers 58 yards and 81 yards, respectively, on two scoring drives sandwiched by a costly C.J. Beathard interception. It was one of the team's most prolific games all season, as the 49ers combined for their fifth-highest total yards (401) and their third-most points of the season. 

[RELATED: NFL analyst predicts major improvements for 49ers next season]

The Packers will travel to Levi's Stadium in Week 12 on Nov. 24, and the rematch could contain more fireworks on offense. Rodgers mentioned Shanahan, Simms' former teammate at the University of Texas-Austin and his longtime friend, after discussing his excitement playing in new coach Matt LaFleur's offensive scheme. LaFleur, who is replacing Mike McCarthy, coached with Shanahan in Washington and with the Atlanta Falcons, and LaFleur's brother Mike is the 49ers' wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. 

If Garoppolo's healthy and LaFleur and Rodgers click on the opposing sideline, another high-scoring classic could be in the cards.