49ers

49ers TE Celek out indefinitely with high-ankle sprain

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49ers TE Celek out indefinitely with high-ankle sprain

SANTA CLARA -– Tight end Garrett Celek is sidelined indefinitely after sustaining a high-ankle sprain in the first quarter of the 49ers’ 19-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Coach Jim Tomsula said X-rays on Celek’s left ankle did not show a fracture. He was seen after the game wearing an orthopedic boot and using crutches for support.

Celek started eight of the 49ers’ first 11 games. He is tied for fourth on the team with 19 receptions for 186 yards. Celek leads the 49ers with three touchdown receptions.

Tight end Vance McDonald has produced his two best games of his three-year career in back-to-back games. On Sunday, McDonald caught six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals.

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“Well, you can you go back to training camp,” Tomsula said. “I’ve always said that’s a group I’ve always been really impressed with. Our tight end room, we have felt really good about since the beginning. The way they work, the players that are in that room, the way they work, the coaching, it’s really a good room.”

Three tight ends the 49ers had in training camp are with other NFL teams. Derek Carrier, who was traded to Washington in the preseason, has 16 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. In four games since a trade to Denver, former 49ers Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis has 10 receptions for 97 yards. Asante Cleveland, whom the 49ers traded to New England for guard Jordan Devey, made his debut with the Patriots on Sunday night and caught one pass for 1 yard.

Rookie Blake Bell, a fourth-round draft pick, saw his most extensive playing time for the 49ers on Sunday. He caught three passes for 67 yards, including a 48-yard reception that set up the 49ers’ first touchdown of the game.

Celek, McDonald and Bell are the only tight ends on the 49ers' 53-man roster.

The 49ers added tight end Brian Leonhardt to their practice squad two weeks ago. Leonhardt saw action in 12 games for the Raiders last season, catching six passes for 35 yards in three starts.

49ers' wide receiver competition still wide open as season approaches

49ers' wide receiver competition still wide open as season approaches

The 49ers' wide receiver competition still is in full swing with the preseason halfway gone.

While a number of receivers have flashed, coach Kyle Shanahan explained he’s still waiting to see more from the group as a whole.

“Yeah, I want to see more from all of them,” Shanahan said in a conference call Tuesday. “We’ve got a very good group and they’re all tight and so I’m trying to get those guys to take the spot from people and make it an easy decision.

“I think we’ve got a lot of candidates to start on our team, guys who have been here and the new guys. There’s two positions, depending on if we start in 12 or 21 and there’s three positions if we start in 11.”

Shanahan and the offensive coaches attempted to spread the snaps out amongst the group throughout joint practices and Monday's preseason game against the Denver Broncos, but limited rookie Jalen Hurd, who was dealing with back tightness.

“Hurd was going to play more, but he had some back tightness all week in practice and then he had a little bit in the game,” Shanahan said. “He definitely could’ve gone, but that was just the decision I made to get him out of there.”

The shortened week for the team played a factor in the decision as well.

“Didn’t want that to be worse with the fact that we have three games in 10 days, so we did that,” Shanahan said. “The other guys we planned on playing awhile, and I thought they did a good job taking advantage of that.”

With Trent Taylor out for four to six weeks due to surgery on his fractured foot, the onus is on the remaining receivers to take advantage of the additional reps they will get in games and at practice.

Rookie Deebo Samuel had the longest offensive play of the game in Denver but Shanahan still is looking for more.

“Especially with Trent being down right now, there’s a lot of opportunities for these guys," Shanahan said. "Deebo had a good play on the reverse or the round, we call it the round, but the reverse he had yesterday. But, that’s what we expect him to do.

“The D-end closed and he’s fast and we expect him to outrun people, but all these guys can keep getting better a lot. We want them to be good at blocking, be good at running the ball when it’s in their hands and they need to be able to get open. Deebo has the ability to do everything, but he’s still continuing to develop.”

Veteran receiver Jordan Matthews lined up in the slot with the first-team offense but Shanahan said that who wins that job still is very fluid.

“That’s what we’ll go over this afternoon,” Shanahan said. “We’ll have two practices to prepare for Kansas City. We kind of think all this stuff out, we give guys different opportunities certain weeks, but by no means is anything set for Week 1.

“We’ve got an idea of what some guys can do, some guys we need to see more from and some guys we already feel like we know what they can do. So, we mix it all around and I wouldn’t look into anything until you guys see our final 53.”

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Here's the 49ers' wide receiver snap count from Monday night’s match up with the Broncos:
Kendrick Bourne 45
Richie James 32
Deebo Samuel 24
Dante Pettis 11
Marquise Goodwin 11
Jalen Hurd 8
Jordan Matthews 5
Malik Henry 3
Shawn Poindexter 1

49ers' backup QB competition likely won't be decided until final cut

49ers' backup QB competition likely won't be decided until final cut

The 49ers have not kept three quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster since coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch arrived in 2017.

And Shanahan seemed to imply the club will keep two at the beginning of this season, too. C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens are competing for the backup role behind starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

“I know we have two backup quarterbacks who are both capable of starting and I would be happy with either one as our backup,” Shanahan said after the team returned to the Bay Area from its 24-15 preseason victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday night.

“One of those guys is going to win the job, and we will make that decision. I do not see myself making that decision until I absolutely have to, and that probably won’t be until the final 53.”

If the 49ers were to keep three quarterbacks on their roster, a decision on the backup would not have to be made until 90 minutes before the regular-season opener on Sunday, Sept. 8, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when seven inactive players must be announced.

Shanahan said he is in “a pretty good spot,” as far as determining the backup. But he said he has yet to determine who will follow Garoppolo in the preseason game Saturday night at Kansas City. Then, he said, the other quarterback likely will see the bulk of the playing time in the final exhibition game, Thursday, Aug. 24, against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I feel very good with both the guys,” Shanahan said. “We’ve had both of the guys here in a lot of game situations. But it’s been a fun battle to watch. I think both of them are playing better than they have the last two years.”

Based on how both quarterbacks have performed in regular-season games, Mullens is the favorite. Last season, he averaged 284.6 yards passing – fourth-most in NFL history through eight games – with 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 90.0 passer rating.

Beathard averaged 250.4 yards passing with eight touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of 81.8. Beathard also was sacked with more frequency than Mullens.

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But Shanahan designs his offense around the big play, and that is where Beathard could have the advantage because of his willingness to sit in the pocket and let downfield routes develop.

“Every time C.J.’s in there you’ve got a chance for a big play,” Shanahan said. “He loves the big play.”

Beathard had two opportunities for big plays Monday night. He overthrew Richie James on a deep corner route to the right side, then Kendrick Bourne failed to hold onto a deep ball down the left side.

“I thought C.J. missed a couple plays early, but nothing too bad,” Shanahan said. “Then Nick came in and didn’t have many opportunities, but made the best (of them).”

Mullens and Bourne teamed up for a well-timed and delivered 1-yard touchdown on a fade route against tight coverage.