49ers

Former 49ers special teams coach Bruce DeHaven dies at 68

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AP

Former 49ers special teams coach Bruce DeHaven dies at 68

Bruce DeHaven, a longtime special teams coach who helped the Buffalo Bills go to four consecutive Super Bowls, has died following a battle with prostate cancer. He was 68.

Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold said DeHaven passed away Tuesday in Orchard Park, New York, with his family by his side.

DeHaven spent 29 years as a special teams coach in the NFL, most recently with the Carolina Panthers. He took over in Carolina in 2013 but was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May of 2015. He stepped away from his full-time role last summer but remained on as an adviser while receiving medical treatment.

DeHaven started his coaching career in the 1970s and also coached for San Francisco, Dallas and Seattle.

[MAIOCCO: Former 49ers assistant Bruce DeHaven travels long road back to Super Bowl]

But he is best remembered for his two stints in Buffalo from 1987-1999 and 2010-2012.

DeHaven's special teams coverage units in Buffalo were the best in the league for four consecutive season (1987-1990). He helped the Bills win six AFC East titles and appear in 21 playoff games.

Under DeHaven, Steve Tasker became a seven-time Pro Bowler and kicker Steve Christie set team records in 1998 with 140 points and 33 made field goals while becoming the franchise's career leading scorer.

"I was a better football player because Bruce DeHaven was my coach, but I was a better man because Bruce DeHaven was my friend," Tasker said. "I will miss him very, very much."

DeHaven is survived by his wife Kathy and their two children, Tobin Scott and Annie Maude. Outside of his love of family, DeHaven's passions were watching the St. Louis Cardinals, listening to music, reading and the Kansas farm where he was raised.

"Bruce DeHaven was not only one of the premier special teams coaches the history of the NFL, he was also a premier special person," said former Bills coach Marv Levy. "His work ethic, his love for and his dedication to the game, his caring about those players from whom he was able to bring forth their maximum talents and who revere him are all signature features which distinguished him. Beyond that, he was a wonderful husband and father possessed of a happy and upbeat nature. What a privilege it was for me and for all the members of our coaching staff to have been colleagues and friends of Bruce DeHaven."

Panthers coach Ron Rivera tweeted: "#RIP Coach Bruce DeHaven. Our time together was short but I'm proud to say I coached on the same sideline as you."

Greg Papa, Donte Whitner and Ian Williams join 49ers coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area

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AP

Greg Papa, Donte Whitner and Ian Williams join 49ers coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area

The former voice of the Raiders is bringing his expertise and insights to NBC Sports Bay Area’s coverage of the 49ers this season.

Greg Papa, a three-time California Sportscaster of the Year, will host 49ers Pregame Live and 49ers Postgame Live this season, NBC Sports Bay Area announced on Friday.

Papa spent the past 21 seasons serving as the Raiders’ radio play-by-play man. He will captain NBC Sports Bay Area’s coverage before and after every game, beginning Sunday, Sept. 9, when the 49ers open the regular season against the Minnesota Vikings.

Former 49ers safety Donte Whitner is joining Jeff Garcia as an analyst this season on NBC Sports Bay Area’s pregame and postgame coverage. Whitner played 11 NFL seasons, including three with the 49ers (2011 to ’13). He was selected to a Pro Bowl while with the 49ers.

Whitner also twice won the Garry Niver Award, which the San Francisco Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America presents annually to a 49ers player for his cooperation and professional style in dealing with the media.

Garcia debuted on NBC Sports Bay Area’s pregame and postgame 49ers coverage last season. He played quarterback for 11 seasons in the NFL, including his first five years with the 49ers. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons with the 49ers (2000-’02). Garcia is the last 49ers quarterback to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Former 49ers defensive lineman Ian Williams also joins the NBC Sports Bay Area team’s coverage this season as an analyst on 49ers Press Conference Live, which airs coach Kyle Shanahan’s weekly day-after-game press conference. Williams played five seasons for the 49ers (2011 to ’15).

49ers camp report: Joshua Garnett begins to compete at RG

49ers camp report: Joshua Garnett begins to compete at RG

HOUSTON – Joshua Garnett worked primarily with the 49ers’ No. 1 offense during practice Thursday, as he has gotten healthy and inserted himself into the competition for the starting job at right guard.

”It feels great to be out there with the boys, and running around with them,” Garnett said after the 49ers’ second practice against the Houston Texans. “I was out here doing all the reps today. I’m feeling good.”

Garnett missed two weeks of practices and the 49ers’ first exhibition game after banging knees with a teammate in practice on July 28. It was the same knee that required surgery last August, knocking him out for the entire season.

He showed some rust on Wednesday with some missed assignments, but he otherwise looked good enough to move up to the first team on Thursday.

“He looked good on tape yesterday.” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He definitely looked healthy yesterday. The test will be after fatigue sets in. Today was his second day in a row. We upped his reps, so I’m looking forward to watching the tape when I get in.”

Garnett, a first-round pick from Stanford in 2016, is competing against Mike Person and Jonathan Cooper for the starting job. Cooper has yet to spend much time working with the first team after slowing rounding into shape after sustaining a knee injury in the final game of last season while with the Dallas Cowboys.

Garnett is expected to see significant action Saturday night against the Texans and could even be in the starting lineup.

“Whatever coaches see on tape and whatever coach says, that’s what I’m going to roll with,” Garnett said. “Whether I’m going with the ones, twos or threes, I’ll go out there and go as hard as I can.

“Every day is important, not just the games -- every practice, every walkthrough, every install, every meeting. I’ve got to approach it with that mindset.”

Garoppolo’s Evaluation of Practices

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said the 49ers’ offense benefitted from the two days of work against the Texans’ defense. Houston’s defense appeared to have the upper hand during the practices, which serve as warmups for Saturday’s exhibition game.

“I think it was good,” Garoppolo said. “They gave us a lot of different looks that we’re not used to getting. They run a different defense than what we’re used to so it got our guys thinking and I think we handled it very well.”

Garoppolo and the first-team offense were stymied during a pair of two-minute drills at the end of practice. On the first play of the first series, Garoppolo’s arm was hit as he was throwing. The pass fluttered into the secondary for an easy interception by safety Kareem Jackson. When Garoppolo got another chance, the 49ers’ offense failed to record a first down on four plays.

“To me, it’s most important because you get different coverages,” Shanahan said. “You go against our defense, you’re going against cover three about 90 percent of the time. So it’s nice to get some different looks, some more two-shell defenses, some clouds, some quarters, things like that. So it’s good work.”

Running Back Rotation

Jeremy McNichols handled most of the first-team reps at running back with Jerick McKinnon (calf) and Matt Breida (shoulder) out for the remainder of the exhibition season. Joe Williams, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and newly signed veteran Alfred Morris split the duties.

“We just try to get a look at everyone,” Shanahan said. “You try to give everyone their opportunity. We have had guys down and other guys like Joe [Williams] and Raheem, they have gotten more opportunities with the (No. 1) offensive line. So we wanted to give all of the running backs as well as you can, time with the one O-line. Also, you want to see them go against some NFL defenses. Sometimes those twos and threes aren’t quite NFL defenses, yet.”

Offensive Play of the Day

Garoppolo and rookie receiver Dante Pettis hooked up on a 30-yard corner route. Garoppolo lofted the pass to Pettis’ back shoulder, and Pettis tracked the ball and made an over-the-shoulder catch.

Defensive Plays of the Day

The No. 2 defense had an outstanding sequence during its two-minute drill. The series started against Houston with Jeremiah Attaochu breaking free for what would’ve been a quarterback sack of Brandon Weeden. (The ensuing pass was completed for a first down.) Then, on the next four plays, linebacker Fred Warner, safety Antone Exum and cornerback Tyvis Powell broke up passes. On fourth down, Greg Mabin recorded the interception.

Mental and Physical Test

At the suggestion of 49ers nose tackle Earl Mitchell, who played four seasons with the Houston Texans, left tackle Joe Staley was one of several players who took intravenous fluids before practices to combat possible dehydration from the heat.

“I had two IV bags yesterday and I went with one IV bag this morning,” Staley said. “I felt a little more sluggish today, so I think two is the go.”

In 12 NFL seasons, Staley has never experienced anything like the two days practicing in the Houston heat. The two-hour practices began at 9:15 a.m. Along with the suffocating humidity, the temperatures reached the mid-90s.

“It’s good to get work in an environment that we don’t usually get work in,” Staley said. “Training camp in California is probably some of the nicest weather you’re going to get in the NFL. So to come out here and work through the heat and test yourself mentally, it’s good for everybody.”

This ‘n’ That

There was a scary moment for rookie safety Terrell Williams, who fell hard on the concrete at the side of the field after a one-on-one coverage drill. Williams injured his knee. But afterward he was walking around fine, and said he felt fine. . . Rookie safety Marcell Harris sustained a hamstring injury in practice Wednesday and was not available. . . Mostert caught a deep pass against linebacker Zach Cunningham from Garoppolo on a wheel route. . . Exum recorded an interception at the sideline on a Joe Webb pass attempt intended for tight end MyCole Pruitt. . . . D.J. Reed broke up a well-thrown Deshaun Watson pass 35 yards down the field intended for rookie receiver Vincent Smith. . . Texans safety Kevin Drummond intercepted a C.J. Beathard pass that deflected off the hands of tight end Cole Hikutini. . . Watson hit tight end Jordan Akins on a 25-yard touchdown against the coverage of Reuben Foster. . . Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon had an eventful three-play sequence against DeAndre Hopkins in a two-minute drill. Hopkins caught a 20-yard pass on Witherspoon. On the next play, Hopkins was flagged for offensive pass interference. Then, Witherspoon broke up a pass intended for Hopkins. . . Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman did not practice during team drills and will not play in Saturday’s game. But Sherman and Hopkins spent some time helping each other on technique after practice.