Top returners in college football join 49ers competition

Top returners in college football join 49ers competition

SANTA CLARA -- Trent Taylor, who ranked ninth in the NFL in punt returns last season as a 49ers rookie, will be challenged by the two best coming out of the college ranks.

Washington receiver Dante Pettis, a second-round draft pick of the 49ers, ranked No. 1 in college football with a 20.4-yard average. Cornerback D.J. Reed, whom the 49ers selected in the fifth round, was second at 14.9.

On Friday morning at the 49ers’ rookie minicamp they were fielding punts along with several other unsuspecting newcomers during the team’s walk-through practice.

“We were both laughing because people were like, ‘You guys return kicks?’ ” Reed said. “And we were like, ‘A little bit.’ ”

Pettis is college football’s all-time record holder with nine career punt returns for touchdowns. In Reed’s final season at Kansas State, he returned one punt and one kickoff for touchdowns.

“I felt we do different things,” Reed said. “He’s very elusive with the ball, and so am I. But I feel how I return is a little different.

“For me, I make a lot of guys miss. I’m very twitchy, very jukey. But, then again, I also have power and can run through people. He has a great asset to his game. He’s very elusive.”

Taylor, the 49ers’ starting slot receiver, had a strong rookie season on special teams with a 9.4-yard average on punt returns. Pettis said he is more concerned about establishing himself on offense.

“I kind of view myself as a receiver and not really a punt returner,” Pettis said. “Everything I aim for is receiver-wise and not really punt returner.”

Yet, there is not escaping the fact the 49ers view Pettis as a four-down player. He is capable of playing each of the wide receiver positions, as well as being a game-changer as a return man.

“My best attribute is my decision making and aggressiveness,” Pettis replied. “I try to catch everything. It will be a little bit of a transition. I will not be able to just run around people and I have to trust my blocking even more.”

NFL co-rushing leader Matt Breida questionable vs. Chargers


NFL co-rushing leader Matt Breida questionable vs. Chargers

SANTA CLARA – Running back Matt Breida, who is tied for the NFL’s rushing lead, is listed as questionable for the 49ers’ Week 4 game at the Los Angeles Chargers, head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday.

Breida sustained a hyperextended right knee in the first half of the 49ers’ 38-27 loss Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs. He returned in the third quarter and finished with 90 yards rushing on 10 attempts. Breida on Monday also had some calf soreness, Shanahan said.

Shanahan made note of the playing surface at Arrowhead Stadium, which had recently been re-sodded after a Taylor Swift concert on Sept. 8. He said he was not sure if the turf had anything to do with the injuries to Breida or quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who tore the ACL in his left knee when he tried to make a cut near the left sideline to stay inbounds.

Entering the Monday night game, Breida is tied for the NFL lead with Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott with 274 rushing yards on the season. Breida has carried the ball 32 times this season and is averaging 8.6 yards an attempt. Elliott has attempted 48 runs.

Shanahan gave other 49ers injury updates on Monday:

--Cornerback Richard Sherman has a calf strain and is expected to miss a couple of weeks.

--Guard Mike Person has a knee sprain and is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Chargers.

--Guard Joshua Garnett is still nursing a toe injury and is not expected to be available.

--Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin made it through Sunday’s game healthy after sitting out Week 2 with a deep thigh bruise.

--Safety Adrian Colbert sustained a hip injury and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

--Running back Alfred Morris had an ankle injury but returned to action. His practice availability will be determined on Wednesday.

Nick Mullens in line for 49ers promotion; Colin Kaepernick not an option

Nick Mullens in line for 49ers promotion; Colin Kaepernick not an option

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers will elevate quarterback Nick Mullens from the practice squad to serve as C.J. Beathard’s backup after Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a season-ending knee injury on Sunday.

The 49ers will also bring in a group of free-agent quarterbacks to work out on Tuesday in Santa Clara, head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday.

“I know we’re working out a number of guys tomorrow,” Shanahan said. “Right now, our plan is bring Nick up, so we have two right away.”

The group of quarterbacks expected to work out for the 49ers includes veteran free-agents Kellen Clemens, T.J. Yates and Tom Savage. Shanahan said the team has also reached out to Matt Moore but he said he was not sure if Moore would attend the workout.

One player who will not be attending the workout is Colin Kaepernick, Shanahan said. He said the team has not discussed Kaepernick this year after he was a subject of conversations a year ago.

“I made that decision [to not pursue Kaepernick] because of the style of offense we wanted to go with,” Shanahan said. “That’s kind of what I said last year. It’s the same situation now. I always look into what style of offense I want to do, what style of offense we’ve been doing for the last two years.

“When you start to get to these quarterbacks we’re talking about, C.J.’s our guy and we have Nick Mullens backing him up. When you get into a third or fourth guy, whoever that is, you’d like to bring in guys who you felt you didn’t have to change much of your offense for.”

Garoppolo is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair his torn left ACL at some point in the next week or two after his swelling goes down. Shanahan said he was not aware of any additional damage to Garoppolo’s knee.

Clemens, 35, is a 12-year NFL veteran who has started 21 of his 64 career games during his career with the New York Jets, St. Louis and the Chargers. He has 16 career touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

Yates, 31, started 10 of the 20 games in which he appeared with Houston, Atlanta and Miami. He has 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Savage, 28, has started nine of his 13 games with Houston. He’s thrown five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Moore, 34, is a 10-year pro who has 30 career starts in his 49 appearances with Carolina and Miami. He’s thrown 45 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.