49ers

49ers practice 8: Rookie guard Garnett moves to left side

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49ers practice 8: Rookie guard Garnett moves to left side

SANTA CLARA – First-round pick Joshua Garnett arrived at work on Tuesday morning and was greeted by offensive line coach Pat Flaherty, who gave him a new set of instructions for the day.

Garnett, who has been playing on the right side since his arrival with the 49ers, shifted over to the left side for the first time on Tuesday.

“I played left in college, came here and played right (for) the first seven practices,” Garnett said. “(I) got moved to the left today. So I’m kind of showing I can do both sides. I can go wherever the coaches need me to go and be that versatile guy.

“I didn’t ask for an explanation. Didn’t need one. Wherever they put me, I’m going to go there with a smile on my face.”

Garnett worked with the second-team offense at left guard, behind veteran Zane Beadles. Andrew Tiller continued to work with the first offense at right guard. Garnett said the transition was not too difficult.

Garnett’s move could mean that Beadles’ position is now in question with Tiller strengthening his hold on a starting spot. Or it could mean that the 49ers want to give Garnett work on both sides to keep their options open for where he is the best fit for the team’s offensive live.

The move was not a difficult one for Garnett, who was one of the nation's top guards at Stanford, he said.

“It’s more conceptual,” he said. “If you understand the rules of the plays, going back and forth shouldn’t mess you up too bad.”

QB competition: Blaine Gabbert completed 10 of 12 pass attempts during 11-on-11 drills, as he routinely went for the safe, underneath throws. Colin Kaepernick completed 7 of 11 throws during those three periods.

Kaepernick’s best work came during the 7-on-7 sessions, when he had three nicely thrown touchdown passes of 15 yards apiece. Kaepernick hit Jerome Simpson on back-to-back scoring plays, including a back-shoulder throw against the coverage of cornerback Keith Reaser. He had another short TD throw to tight end Blake Bell.

The best throw of the day was Kaepernick’s toss to DeAndrew White against Will Redmond, on which Kaepernick let the pass go before White made his break. Kaepernick led White perfectly on the other side of Redmond along the left sideline in the end zone.

This ‘n’ that: Defensive lineman Arik Armstead, who is nursing an upper-body injury, was in pads but did not take part in any of the 11-on-11 work. . . .

Outside linebacker Tank Carradine had a strong day, as he worked in mostly nickel packages on the right edge. Carradine got into the backfield on a couple of run plays and beat reserve left tackle Colin Kelly for one of his two would-be sacks. . .

Chris Davis, Gerald Hodges and Redmond all had passes broken up in 7-on-7 drills. . .

In a team drill, linebacker NaVorro Bowman made a timely break to bat down a Gabbert pass intended for Quinton Patton.

Daily transactions: None.

Next practice: The 49ers are scheduled to return to practice Wednesday at 10:25 a.m. for their first practice at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco since 2004. The practice is expected to attract 9,000 ticketed fans.

Ryan Clark calls 49ers a 'pretender,' but their play proves otherwise

Ryan Clark calls 49ers a 'pretender,' but their play proves otherwise

One NFL analyst says it's time to start taking the 49ers seriously. Another feels just the opposite.

"They are pretending," ESPN's Ryan Clark said of San Francisco on Wednesday's episode of NFL Live. "They are faking us out. They are imitators, pretenders, whatever you want to say. They are not the real deal at 2-0."

Clark insisted that the 49ers should be the lowest-ranked of the nine current 2-0 teams in the league, which is interesting, considering they've won their two games more decisively than all but one of the others. San Francisco leads the NFC in points scored, and outside of the Cowboys, they've scored at least 15 more points than every other team in the conference. They also have the best point differential of any team in the league not named the New England Patriots.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks have won their two games by a combined total of three points. They beat the Bengals by a single point at home. The 49ers just walloped the Bengals by 24 points in Cincinnati. Seattle's other victory came over a Pittsburgh team that lost its starting quarterback in the first half.

Dallas has beaten the lowly Giants and Redskins -- not exactly murderer's row. The Bills have beaten the Jets and Giants for their two victories, both on the road -- just like San Francisco. Both of Buffalo's games have been played in the same stadium, though. The 49ers just spent two weeks in Tampa Bay and Youngstown, Ohio.

Nonetheless, the former NFL defensive back views the 49ers' undefeated record as the least legitimate, due mainly to questions surrounding their quarterback.

"Listen, I still don't believe in Jimmy Garoppolo," Clark continued, "and I know a lot of people said he's gotten over some of the struggles of the preseason and he's fully back from the injury. Kyle Shanahan did a great job of scheming people open against the Cincinnati Bengals but [Garoppolo] was not sharp against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They won that game because Jameis Winston was just actually worse."

To say Jimmy G looked rusty in Week 1 is certainly fair. To give him no credit for San Francisco's offensive explosion in Week 2 is most certainly not.

[RELATED: Rice thinks 49ers are Super Bowl contenders after 2-0 start]

ESPN's Adam Schefter agrees with that latter sentiment.

"So what?" Schefter said in reference to Clark's comments on Thursday's "Murph & Mac Podcast" on KNBR. "Ryan Clark is thinking of the 49ers from last or the previous years. This is a different team. The defense is better. The running game is strong. Jimmy G has another year in the system.

"And yes, there are questions. Let's not anoint them as potential Super Bowl contenders yet. There are definite questions that this team has to answer, but the team is still 2-and-0 on the road."

'Super Bowl contender' might be an overreach. That said, 'pretender' might be one, too.

49ers' Richard Sherman not surprised by Ahkello Witherspoon's resurgence

49ers' Richard Sherman not surprised by Ahkello Witherspoon's resurgence

SANTA CLARA — Ahkello Witherspoon has come into his third NFL season locked in, looking like a completely different player than he was less than a year ago. Fellow 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman couldn’t be more proud. 

Witherspoon was on a steep upward trajectory as he closed out his rookie season in 2017. Not only had he earned a starting position with the 49ers, but he also was now going to be playing across from and learning from Sherman, one of the most respected cornerbacks in the league. 

Before the 2018 season, Sherman saw Witherspoon’s talent and believed in him enough to invite him to his ‘Cornerback Summit’ down the street from 49ers headquarters at Stanford. At Sherman’s alma mater, Witherspoon found himself working out with with the likes of All-Pro cornerbacks Darius Slay, Aqib Talib and Xavier Rhodes.

The media portrayed Witherspoon as having “arrived,” but things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Witherspoon’s sophomore season in 2018 did not live up to the expectations and hype. Quarterbacks tested him and won, as they avoided throwing towards Sherman’s side of the field. People outside of 49ers headquarters wondered if the attention was too much for the young cornerback from Colorado University. 

Sherman’s belief, however, never waned and that has been the key to Witherspoon’s resurgence. The veteran cornerback spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area about what has changed for the third-year defensive back. 

“Just his mentality, how he approaches things it’s how he deals with adversity,” Sherman said. “It’s been really cool to just see him evolve from last year to this year. He’s worked at it meticulously, he’s stayed detailed, he’s stayed locked in, when things weren’t going how he wanted them to, he made sure his mentality was always right and it’s lead to the success he’s had.”

It may seem like a small detail, but Witherspoon admits he's changed his approach. His most important adjustment? Having a short memory.  

“I think it’s really just caring a little less,” Witherspoon told NBC Sports Bay Area. “It sounds kind of backwards but I used let a catch kind of weigh on me for three or four plays. Now if you got a catch, it doesn’t matter because I’m still the best corner on the field. If you give up a catch it just happens. It happens to the best people.” 

Sherman can see a night-and-day difference in Witherspoon from 2018. 

“It’s a lot different than last year,” Sherman said. “He didn’t respond as well to certain things that happened to him. He knew that, and he understood and worked to change that.” 

The bond between the two cornerbacks is very evident at practice and in games. When Witherspoon makes a big play, like his pick-six in the season opener, he looks to Sherman immediately -- like a younger brother seeking out approval. 

“I just feel like it’s kind of putting on a show,” Witherspoon explained. “When you have somebody that supports you that much, and you make a play, it’s kind of like you look to him like, ‘Man I’m out here doing it. There it is again.’ 

“So just seeing him, having that connection on the field, it’s inspirational going on to the next play.”  

Sherman’s belief was exactly what Witherspoon needed to propel him into his third season. Sherman still gives the younger cornerback all the credit for being able to turn his approach to the game around. 

“I believe in him and he believes in himself,” Sherman said. “But I think that sometimes you get into that spot where you feel that no one is in your corner and nobody is supporting you. I think I was one of the positive voices for him at a time where there weren’t a lot of positive voices outside of his family.” 

[RELATED: 49ers rookie Samuel doesn't need many snaps for big stats]

Witherspoon’s soft-spoken demeanor remains the same, but now there’s an underlying confidence behind it. He almost seems to stand taller knowing how far he’s come, while recognizing that this is still the beginning of his journey. 

“Last year I was learning as a player and learning as a man and I think this year you can see the growth.”