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.”