49ers OTAs notes: Jimmy Garoppolo rolling right along with offense

49ers OTAs notes: Jimmy Garoppolo rolling right along with offense

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers continued to work on chemistry with the players healthy enough to participate during OTAs on Tuesday.

Rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel sat out of team drills with an undisclosed minor tweak, but no other new injuries were reported.

Here is who -- and what -- else stood out from Tuesday's session. 

Jimmy G's big plays

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s recovering from a torn ACL, continued to participate in individual passing and 7-on-7 drills. He will remain out of 11-on-11 work as a precautionary measure until the start of training camp, but Garoppolo still strung together a few highlights. 

Garoppolo threw one of his best passes when he connected with receiver Kendrick Bourne 15 yards down the center of the field, placing the ball just out of the reach of cornerback Richard Sherman. The QB also completed two passes to receiver Trent Taylor, who used his renewed speed to his advantage as he works back from offseason back surgery. Taylor was one of Garoppolo’s favorite targets when the quarterback first arrived in 2017, and they're working to renew that connection. 

During 7-on-7 drills in the red zone, Garoppolo passed to tight end George Kittle in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Defensive back K’Waun Williams, however, argued that there should have been a penalty on Kittle for pushing off. Garoppolo also completed a pass to running back Tevin Coleman, who reached the left corner of the end zone after the catch.

Battling backup QBs shine

While Garoppolo was held out of 11-on-11 drills, C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens continued to compete for the backup quarterback spot. 

In the 7-on-7 session, Bourne high-pointed a Beathard pass in the flat while covered by linebacker David Mayo and defensive back Dontae Johnson. Beathard relied on Taylor just as Garoppolo did, connecting with the receiver in the slot on three of four plays. Taylor didn't stick in the slot all day, and a route he ran outside the numbers offered a preview of how his versatility could figure into the 49ers offense this season. 

Mullens found Bourne over the middle in 11-on-11 drills, and the receiver showed no fear on a crossing route. While covered by Greg Mabin, Bourne still was able to haul in the pass.

Mullens' best throw of the day was to Dante Pettis, who was being tightly covered by Johnson. Johnson had no chance on the pass, as Mullens placed it where only Pettis could catch it. 

Defensive standouts  

It wasn't all offense on display Tuesday. Mabin and Elijah Lee each broke up one of Garoppolo's passes, and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds was credited with a coverage sack. 

Defensive lineman Ronald Blair III did well defending the run. When Mullens tried to hand the ball off to Jeff Wilson Jr., Blair quickly penetrated to tackle the running back behind the line of scrimmage.

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Injury report

The list of players who didn’t participate in practice because of injuries included:

  • RB Matt Breida (pectoral)
  • RB Jerick McKinnon (knee)
  • RB Raheem Mostert (forearm) 
  • WR Jalen Hurd (knee)
  • TE Garrett Celek (concussion/neck) 
  • C Weston Richburg (knee/quadriceps) 
  • DE Nick Bosa (hamstring)
  • LB Kwon Alexander (knee)
  • LB Fred Warner (knee)
  • CB Jason Verrett (Achilles)
  • Safety Jimmie Ward (collarbone)
  • Safety D.J. Reed (shoulder)

49ers training camp questions: Which defensive linemen will play together?

49ers training camp questions: Which defensive linemen will play together?

Editor's Note: This is the second installment in a five-part series on the 49ers' key competitions during training camp. Today, defensive end.

Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas are slated for similar roles this season.

Armstead, who is playing this season on the fifth-year option, and Thomas, a third-year pro, are viewed as defensive ends on base downs and interior pass-rushers in nickel situations.

There is enough playing time to go around for everyone on the 49ers' defensive line, but the priority will be set through competition beginning this week in training camp.

After all, Armstead and Thomas will also be going up against Dee Ford and rookie Nick Bosa for playing time when the 49ers deploy their base defense. Then, Armstead and Thomas will battle against each other for more snaps next to Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner in passing situations.

Armstead is entering his contract season. The 49ers are paying him $9 million for his fifth year in the NFL. Armstead's strength is his run defense, but the club also believes he has potential as a pass-rusher that can be unlocked in the team's new wide-9 alignment.

Armstead is coming off his best season, appearing in all 16 games with career-highs in tackles (48) and sacks (three).

The team believes Thomas is on track for a breakout season. He made little impact in his first two years after the 49ers selected him with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2017 draft. Thomas admits his on-field performance was impacted by trying to cope with the tragedy of his older sister's death by suicide last year.

Thomas appeared refocused and determined to make a contribution during the team's offseason program. But he will have to earn his way onto the field among the most talented group of defensive linemen the 49ers have assembled in a while.

Ford was the 49ers' biggest veteran acquisition in the offseason, coming from Kansas City in a trade for a second-round draft pick. Ford registered a career-best 13 sacks last season. Kansas City placed the franchise tag on Ford before working out the deal to send him to the 49ers.

Ford will unquestionably be in the field on pass-rush downs. But listed at 6-foot-2, 252 pounds, Ford could be targeted in the run game as a defensive end on base downs.

[RELATED: Training camp questions: Backup quarterback]

Bosa, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, was universally regarded as the best edge rusher in the draft. His immense lower body strength also should enable him to set the edge in run defense. Depending on how quickly he adapts after sitting out the offseason program with a mild hamstring strain, Bosa could be used as a pass-rush specialist as a rookie.

Armstead, Thomas, Ford and Bosa will all see plenty of action through the course of the season. But the competition among this group will determine which combination -- along with Buckner -- takes the field when a game is on the line.

49ers sign NaVorro Bowman so he can formally retire with San Francisco

49ers sign NaVorro Bowman so he can formally retire with San Francisco

When NaVorro Bowman announced his retirement from the NFL last month, San Francisco was unable to allow him to formally retire as a member of the 49ers, since they would have had to open up a roster spot in order to do so.

Well, thanks to a new rule and the fact that San Francisco's top two draft selections have yet to sign their rookie contracts, the 49ers were able to rectify that matter Monday when they re-signed the four-time All-Pro linebacker.

While he still looks like he can play, Bowman and the 49ers have no illusions. They'll place him on the reserve/retired list in short order.

Selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Bowman will continue a tradition of ceremonial retirements for 49ers greats, including Roger Craig and Jerry Rice.

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San Francisco opens up training camp on Friday. Once Bowman is placed on the reserve/retired list, the 49ers will have enough open roster spots to fit both Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel, once they sign their rookie contracts.