49ers notes: Pierre Garçon intercepts Jimmy Garoppolo pass


49ers notes: Pierre Garçon intercepts Jimmy Garoppolo pass

INDIANAPOLIS – Wide receiver Pierre Garçon was on pace for a 1,000-yard season last year even before Jimmy Garoppolo arrived on the scene.

Garçon is back at 100-percent health following a neck injury that limited him to just eight games last season. At 32, he has a chance to have a big season with an accurate and efficient quarterback at the controls of the offense from Week 1.

The Garoppolo-Garçon connection was on display Saturday night, as Garçon caught two passes for 62 yards. But a 47-yard hookup was not exactly the way it was designed. In fact, Garçon was not even the intended target.

“They said it was to Marquise (Goodwin),” Garçon said, referring to his teammate who was running a pattern behind Garçon. “I was happy to be in that spot. Jimmy wasn’t even looking at me, but I saw the ball and . . . I got lucky.”

Garçon said he ran a deeper route than the design of the play. He looked up and there was the ball coming his way – whether he was supposed to catch it or not.

“He threw it and I was within reaching distance,” Garçon said. “He (Goodwin) was happy for me. I was happy. We’re both happy it was a positive play instead of me not going for it, him not going for it.”

Happenstance aside, Garoppolo said he believes he and Garçon are getting more and more comfortable with each other.

“Every week or so we get more connected and get more on the same page,” Garoppolo said. “He’s a gamer, man. He comes out here and he’s ready to roll. (He) doesn’t say much on the sideline, but you know he’s ready to roll. I like that.”

Warner Readies for Week 1

Rookie linebacker Fred Warner started at middle linebacker, and appears to be in good position to open the season in the 49ers’ starting lineup while Reuben Foster serves a two-game suspension.

Warner led the 49ers with five tackles, including one for a loss.

“He played fast,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said of Warner. “He trusted himself. He trusted that he knew his responsibility. He did everything we expected him to do.”

Garoppolo Practices Halftime Routine

The 49ers won the opening toss but elected to defer, which meant the offense would get the first possession of the second half. That was important, Garoppolo said, to be able to experience the 12-minute halftime break.

“This is our dress rehearsal for Week 1, so all the little things, talking at halftime with your coaches, getting with your players and everything, and how fast it goes,” Garoppolo said. “It’s good to get one under the belt.”

The 49ers picked up two first downs on the drive to open the third quarter but punted, bringing an end to Garoppolo’s evening.

Offensive Playing Time

The 49ers’ offense was on the field for 71 plays. Here is how the playing time broke down for everyone who saw snaps on offense:

Quarterback -- Jimmy Garoppolo 45, C.J. Beathard 13, Nick Mullens 13.

Running back -- Alfred Morris 33, Kyle Juszczyk 20, Jeremy McNichols 19, Jeff Wilson 14, Raheem Mostert 5, Malcolm Johnson 5.

Wide receiver -- Marquise Goodwin 44, Pierre Garçon 35, Kendrick Bourne 33, Richie James 21, Trent Taylor 19, Dante Pettis 15, Aldrick Robinson 10, Victor Bolden 2.

Tight end -- Garrett Celek 37, Cole Wick 21, Cole Hikutini 20, Ross Dwelley 3.

Offensive line -- Joe Staley 45, Weston Richburg 45, Laken Tomlinson 45, Mike McGlinchey 45, Joshua Garnett 27, Mike Person 27, Najee Toran 26, Coleman Shelton 25, Pace Murphy 22, Darrell Williams 17, Jonathan Cooper 17, Andrew Lauderdale 13.

Defensive Playing Time

The 49ers’ defense was also on the field for 71 snaps. Here’s a look at how much each 49ers defender played:

Defensive line -- Ronald Blair 30, Jeremiah Attaochu 29, DeForest Buckner 27, Solomon Thomas 27, Arik Armstead 22, Niles Scott 21, Will Sutton 20, Sheldon Day 19, D.J. Jones 19, Cassius Marsh 17, Jullian Taylor 12, Earl Mitchell 11, Chris Jones 10.

Linebacker -- Fred Warner 34, Elijah Lee 32, Brock Coyle 29, Reuben Foster 29, Dekoda Watson 16, Pita Taumoepenu 13, Mark Nzeocha 11, Malcolm Smith 10, Korey Toomer 8.

Defensive back -- D.J. Reed 41, Tarvarius Moore 37, Ahkello Witherspoon 35, Jaquiski Tartt 34, Richard Sherman 33, Adrian Colbert 32, Tyvis Powell 29, Greg Mabin 29, Antone Exum 24, K’Waun Williams 24, Dexter McCoil 8, Tarvarus McFadden 7.

This ‘N’ That

Third-string quarterback Nick Mullens made noticeable strides this summer in his second NFL training camp. But there is no competition for the No. 2 job, coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed. The 49ers are set at quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard. “We’re real happy with the first two,” Shanahan said. “They’re going to be our two quarterbacks unless something drastic happens. We got a lot of confidence in Nick, also.” . . . The 49ers have yet to make a decision on running back Joe Williams, who missed the game Saturday with a fractured rib. The 49ers could carry Williams on their opening roster, place him on injured reserve or waive him. Shanahan said he hopes Williams will be well enough play Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers in the final exhibition game. . . Oft-injured 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward was on the field for just two plays of special teams before sustaining a quadriceps strain that ended his night. Shanahan said he did not immediate know the severity of Ward’s injury.

D.J. Jones could not be happier with marriage of football and personal life


D.J. Jones could not be happier with marriage of football and personal life

SANTA CLARA -- The town of Scooba, Mississippi, with a population 700 is a long way from -- and, at the same time, tantalizingly close to -- college football’s premier conference.

D.J. Jones found himself in the small town, home to East Mississippi Community College, after his grades in high school prevented him from going somewhere in the SEC or any other four-year school.

Jones said on The 49ers Insider Podcast that he was 110 percent disappointed in himself that he ended up at the junior college that would later become the setting for the Netflix series “Last Chance U.”

However, while at East Mississippi, the school won the national championship and sent many star athletes into the NCAA Division I ranks.

But it certainly was not by choice that Jones ended up at a junior college.

“I felt like I let my entire city down,” Jones said of Greenville, South Carolina. “I felt like I let my parents down. And most of all, I let myself down. But as time went by, all the accolades started coming.”

Jones turned the negative into a positive, becoming one of the top prospects in the country and earning a scholarship to Ole Miss.

“It’s make or break,” Jones said. “Either you decide to step up and get on your academics, which was my issue, or you continue to do what you did and you go to the streets or end up in jail or you don’t amount to anything.

“I feel like junior college was the perfect place for me coming out of high school. It got me to where I am.”

The 49ers selected Jones in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Jones worked his way into the starting lineup late last season, and he has been a key component in the 49ers’ base defense this season as the starting nose tackle.

The 24-year-old was in the middle of two tackles at the goal line during the 49ers’ first-half defensive stand against the Los Angeles Rams in San Francisco's 20-7 win on Sunday. But, mostly, his job is to take care of business on the early downs and watch his teammates get after the quarterback in passing situations.

Jones said he believes the new attacking approach of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek has paid dividends for all of the team’s defensive linemen.

“It’s a show on third down, to be honest,” Jones said. “Dee Ford, (Nick) Bosa, Buck (DeForest Buckner) and (Arik) Armstead, they’re freaks of nature. Those four guys are scary coming at you, coming at the quarterback, collapsing the pocket the way they do.

“But I couldn’t be happier with the guys that we got and what we do on first down to get to third down.”

Jones also could not be happier with the meshing of football and his personal life.

Just hours before the 49ers’ game last week on "Monday Night Football," he proposed marriage to his girlfriend Kayla Fannin on the 49ers’ sideline in front of his family and her family. Jones said the idea to propose at Levi’s Stadium was a result of discussions with Austin Moss -- the 49ers’ director of player engagement -- and teammate Solomon Thomas.

“I’ve loved the football field from a young age,” Jones said. “I fell in love with the field. And I fell in love with her. So I felt like I had to do it right then and there.”

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Jones said he could not drop a knee and propose before an ordinary Sunday game. Kayla's father is a pastor who has never missed a church service.

While the members of both families traveled to the Bay Area on the Saturday before the game, Jones’ future father-in-law flew in on Monday.

“We understood that he didn’t want to miss church,” Jones said. “I needed him to be here. I asked him for her hand a couple months ago. He said, ‘Yes,’ so I knew he had to be here. And he wanted to be here, so I’m glad he made it. I’m glad everybody kept it a secret.”

Kyle Shanahan wants to wear Jimmie Ward's jersey after 49ers' big win

Kyle Shanahan wants to wear Jimmie Ward's jersey after 49ers' big win

Kyle Shanahan is one of the few high-profile members of the 49ers who doesn't wear a uniform on Sundays, but if he had it his way, he'd be just like everyone else.

Well, actually, just someone else.

"We love Jimmie [Ward]," Shanahan said at his Monday press conference. "I'd wear his jersey on the sideline if I could."

Shanahan has long been a fan of the versatile defensive back, but he had extra reason to praise Ward after he was heavily involved in stifling the Rams' offense in a decisive 49ers win Sunday. He was credited with six solo tackles -- only linebacker Kwon Alexander had more -- and two crucial fourth-quarter pass deflections.

"I love his mentality, I love watching him play," Shanahan continued. "He's had some unfortunate things with just not being able to stay healthy, but when he is healthy, he is one of the better players. You guys see what he does. He plays extremely physical out there. He's not scared of anything, he's not scared to fail. He challenges guys in coverage and it's been fun having him out there these two weeks."

For all of the grief Ward has received throughout his career, it was never for a lack of talent.

They say the most important ability is availability, and that's the one area where Ward has significantly struggled, though often due to no fault of his own. He appeared in just 16 of 32 games over the last two seasons combined, and sat out the first four weeks of the current campaign recovering from a broken finger.

Ward was absent from the injury report for the first time all season heading into the matchup with the Rams, so perhaps it's no surprise he came through with his best performance in years, according to Pro Football Focus.

In the two games that Ward has appeared, San Francisco has allowed 10 total points and limited Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff to a combined 21-of-46 passing for 178 yards and zero touchdowns while intercepting two passes. Certainly, that can't all be attributed to Ward's presence, as the defensive line continues to wreak havoc, but his impact can't be discounted altogether.

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The 49ers have long maintained that Ward is a key defensive building block -- if he can just stay healthy.

He's healthy now, and clearly, San Francisco is better for it.