49ers still envision important role for Trent Taylor after drafting Dante Pettis


49ers still envision important role for Trent Taylor after drafting Dante Pettis

SANTA CLARA -- The selection of Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey signaled the immediate end of Trent Brown’s stay with the 49ers.

The 49ers’ year-old regime never considered Brown as a long-term answer because of their concerns about his dedication and commitment. Brown was traded to the New England Patriots in a deal that was already agreed upon when general manager John Lynch met with the media a short time after the selection of McGlinchey.

The organization’s first two draft picks of McGlinchey and wide receiver Dante Pettis were designed to strengthen the top end of their roster. Third-round draft pick Fred Warner provides depth and an insurance policy to cover the 49ers amid the uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster’s legal situation.

While the selections of McGlinchey and Warner can be interpreted as direct responses to major questions about Brown and Foster, the addition of Pettis is a little more complicated.

Pettis does not figure to unseat Pierre Garçon or Marquise Goodwin. Pettis can play slot receiver and a punt returner. In fact, nobody has ever been better at turning punts into points. Pettis set the college football record with nine touchdowns on punt returns.

The player most likely to be impacted by the arrival of Pettis is Trent Taylor, a fifth-round draft pick last year.

Unlike Brown and Foster, Taylor has done nothing to prompt the 49ers to replace him. And general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan were quick to advise that Taylor will still have a significant role on the team.

“Trent Taylor has got a skill that works very well on our team,” Lynch said.

Specifically, Taylor has short-area quickness to create immediate separation from the slot. That skill, coupled with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s quick release, provides the 49ers’ offense with an important asset against certain matchups on third downs.

“You don't know what your future is year-to-year, week-to-week, and Trent has a great role for us," Shanahan said. "And we're bringing in Pettis because he can have a good role for us, too. Everyone talks about roles and how we use guys. We have an idea of how we want to, but a guy's role is up to the player. They’ve got to show us what they can do.”

Taylor is considered exclusively a slot receiver. Shanahan envisions Pettis as a player who can step in and play every receiver position in the 49ers’ offense.

“I think we can use him sometimes similar to how we use Marquise, if need be,” Shanahan said. “I think we can use him inside, similar to how we use Trent, if need be. And I think he has the hands and the toughness, and we can use him similar to Pierre. In the meantime, he’s going to be a very good punt returner, too. He can help you on all four downs.”

Taylor had a promising rookie season. He tied for third on the team with 43 receptions for 430 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor ranked tied for ninth in the NFL among qualifying punt returners with a 9.4-yard average.

Now, he will have to fight to maintain the roles he won as a rookie, and that's exactly what Shanahan expects from him.

“I think people like Trent understand that, too,” Shanahan said. “This is a tough league. It's extremely hard. I think that's why guys get paid pretty well, and I think they more than deserve it. It's hard to make it in this league.”

Said Lynch, “It's competition, but we believe there's enough balls to go around for all these guys.”

49ers notes: Joe Williams, Erik Magnuson sidelined with injuries


49ers notes: Joe Williams, Erik Magnuson sidelined with injuries

Running back Joe Williams and offensive lineman Erik Magnuson, a pair of second-year players who are competing for spots on the 49ers’ 53-man roster, sustained injuries Saturday that will sideline them for at least the opening of the regular season.

Williams sustained a fractured rib and a deep hip bruise in the 49ers’ exhibition game against the Houston Texans. And Magnuson, who appeared to be in good shape to win a roster spot due to his versatility, is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a bad hamstring injury.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan, speaking on a conference call Sunday with reporters, said a decision will likely be made in the next week how to handle the injuries. Magnuson could be a candidate to begin the season on injured reserve and return to the roster after at least six weeks.

Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard sustained a foot sprain Saturday and could be limited in practice this week. The 49ers return to practice on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday’s exhibition game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The 49ers expect to get cornerback Richard Sherman back on the field this week to take part fully in practices leading up to the third preseason game. Sherman did not play in the 49ers' first two exhibition games.

Defensive end Arik Armstead (hamstring), linebacker Malcolm Smith (hamstring) and defensive back K’Waun Williams (ankle) are likely to begin taking part in individual drills this week.

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and offensive lineman Garry Gilliam are still going through the return-to-play concussion protocol. They sustained head injuries in the exhibition opener Aug. 9 against Dallas.

Elvis Remains an Option

The 49ers did not pick up the contract option on veteran defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who led the 49ers with 6.5 sacks last season. Shanahan said if he and general manager John Lynch determine Dumervil can help them upgrade a group comprised of unproven young pass-rushers, they will place that phone call to get him back with the team.

“Elvis is a guy I have a lot of confidence in,” Shanahan said. “He did a great job for us last year. And if we felt that was the right opportunity at the end of this, Elvis is a guy that John and I would not hesitate to reach out to.”

High Expectations for Pettis

Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass sailed high against the Texans on Saturday, but Shanahan seemed to place more blame on rookie receiver Dante Pettis for the second-quarter interception. Pettis jumped and appeared to get both hands on the ball. Shanahan said it was a pass that should have been a reception -- not a play that turned into Houston cornerback Johnson Bademosi’s interception.

“Without a doubt,” Shanahan said immediately after the game. “I’d love for it to be perfect (pass). It would make it a lot easier, which Jimmy is capable of. Jimmy has to take responsibility for that. But Dante should catch it every single time. He’s capable of it.”

A day later, Shanahan softened his stance. He said it would have been a difficult catch for Pettis, but it’s one he expects the second-round pick to secure.

“It was harder than I talked about, but my opinion doesn’t change,” Shanahan said. “And that’s because of what I think of Dante. I have a lot of respect for Dante, and I think he can catch just about anything that touches his hands. So when it does, I expect him to. And if he doesn’t, I’m disappointed.”

Garnett Knocks off Rust

Joshua Garnett played 35 snaps at right guard and his bothersome right knee checked out just fine afterward, Shanahan said. Garnett is in competition for the starting job with Mike Person and Jonathan Cooper, who has also been limited as he returns from knee surgery.

“Now I think he has to put that string of practices together and really improve,” Shanahan said of Garnett. “I know we’re coming toward the end here, but hopefully he can get this going in the next two weeks and give him a chance to win that position.”

Richard Sherman blasts NFL: New helmet rule 'is idiotic and should be dismissed'


Richard Sherman blasts NFL: New helmet rule 'is idiotic and should be dismissed'

Following Saturday's preseason loss to the Texans, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and several players weighed in on the NFL's new rule prohibiting players from lowering their head to initiate contact on tackles.

A day later, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman posted a series of tweets regarding the rule and he didn't hold back at all.

In two preseason games, the 49ers have been flagged three times, including twice on Saturday, for violations of the controversial rule.

Sherman has yet to play this preseason as he recovers from a hamstring injury.