49ers

Ward injures hamstring under team supervision, placed on PUP

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Ward injures hamstring under team supervision, placed on PUP

SANTA CLARA – Safety Jimmie Ward was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list to open training camp with a hamstring injury, the 49ers announced Friday morning.

Third-year player Jaquiski Tartt, who spent the offseason program learning both safety positions, took over in Ward's spot for the team's first practice of training camp.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan stated on Thursday that all of their players were healthy and no players would be headed to PUP or the non-football injury list.

But that was before the 49ers were scheduled to have their conditioning test. Ward sustained the injury on Thursday during the team's conditioning test. The team lists him as "week to week."

“He did it in our conditioning test, which was unfortunate for him and for us, obviously," Shanahan said following the 49ers' first practice of camp. "He tweaked it halfway through it. We don’t think it was a full pull or anything, but we want to be smart and safe with it. You never know with those things how long they’ll take. We don’t think it’s anything too serious, but we want to definitely be safe with it.”

Ward can be activated to begin practice at any time. Ward is also eligible to begin the regular season on the PUP list. Any player who opens the regular season on PUP is ineligible for the first six weeks of the season.

Ward is expected to be one of the key members of the 49ers' defense from the free safety position. His role is dubbed "The Eraser," fellow safety Eric Reid said, because of his role as a playmaker in the secondary. However, one of the major questions about Ward is his ability to remain healthy through the rigors of an NFL season.

Ward missed eight games as a rookie due to a foot injury. Last year, he sat out five games due to a shoulder injury.

49ers GM John Lynch won't label Solomon Thomas a bust, still a 'big believer'

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49ers GM John Lynch won't label Solomon Thomas a bust, still a 'big believer'

The 49ers have received little return on the investment of their 2017 No. 3 overall draft pick.

General manager John Lynch acknowledges defensive lineman Solomon Thomas has not produced to the level expected of a player selected so early in the draft. But Lynch said he has not given up on Thomas, who ranks 17th on the team in tackles and has one sack as a part-time player through 10 games.

“A lot of people use the word ‘bust’ or whatever,” Lynch said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “He’s not that. He’s a good football player for us.

“I think a lot of people struggle when you have the No. 3 pick. ‘Why isn’t he in there more?’ And that’s something we have to answer. But you have to earn those opportunities. That’s something Kyle (Shanahan) has always been clear on. Solly needs to continue to earn those. And we need to continue to put him in position to thrive.”

Thomas appeared in 14 games with 12 starts as a rookie. With 41 tackles and three sacks, Thomas showed signs he could take his game to a higher level. But Thomas’ production has regressed in his second season.

Thomas, 23, faced tragedy in the offseason when his older sister, Ella, died from suicide on January 23. Thomas has used his platform as an NFL player to bring awareness to mental health issues. It is only reasonable to assume his real-life anguish has impacted his on-field production.

[RELATED: Whitner: Thomas not a fit]

“It’s been tough on Solomon,” Lynch said. “I can’t even imagine. I often try to put myself in his position, and I know the struggle that he’s going through. Solomon is very aware that the struggle is real, that it’s something he deals with every day.

“But, also, he needs to find a way to come and be the best he can be at his job.”

Thomas has two years remaining on his rookie contract after this season, and Lynch said he expects the former Stanford star to come back from the bye week and make an impact as the 49ers close out the season.

“I’m still a big believer in Solomon Thomas,” Lynch said. “A lot of people say, ‘Why?’ You go back and study the history of defensive linemen in this league. A lot of them don’t figure it out in Year 1. They don’t figure it out in Year 2.”

Lynch added, “In this second half of this Year 2 for him, he’s got to really start being the player we all know he can be. Some of that is opportunity, and putting him in situations where we think he can thrive. And I think we’ll see that in the second half of this year.”

How Nick Mullens changed GM John Lynch's thinking about 49ers' QB situation

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How Nick Mullens changed GM John Lynch's thinking about 49ers' QB situation

When the 49ers signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a lucrative, long-term extension in the offseason, it was presumed the team’s top two quarterbacks were set through the 2020 season.

Now, C.J. Beathard’s long-term spot as the 49ers’ backup looks tenuous. Nick Mullens will make his third consecutive start on Sunday when the club returns from the bye week to play at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Here’s how my thinking’s changed: I think we have three now,” Lynch said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

Garoppolo’s season came to an abrupt end in Week 3 when he sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The 49ers expect Garoppolo to come back strong in 2019 after continuing to learn from coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello while rehabbing his knee.

“I think we have one special guy in Jimmy Garoppolo,” Lynch said. “I have all the belief in the world in him, as does Kyle. We’re real proud of the way he’s using this as an opportunity, not only to get healthy, which takes a ton of time with an ACL, but he’s also using this as an opportunity to grow his game in the film room.

“We believe, as we did when we committed to him long term, that he’s going to be the guy for years to come at that position.”

Beathard took over for Garoppolo and started the next five games, all 49ers losses. After averaging 297.3 yards passing in his first three starts, Beathard struggled in losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals. He was sacked 11 times in those two games.

“I think at some point when you’re struggling, there’s a little regression,” Lynch said. “I think C.J. was going through that. Nick came in and gave us a lift. But I think that was also good for C.J. to get to back off, kind of take things in and really, frankly, learn some things from Nick -- the way he’s getting rid of the football on time.”

Mullens has yet to be sacked while attempting 61 passes in two games. Beathard was sacked 18 times with 169 pass attempts, while Garoppolo was sacked 13 times with 89 pass attempts.

Mullens spent last season and the first three games this year on the practice squad before receiving the promotion to the 49ers’ 53-man roster.

In starts against the Raiders and New York Giants, Mullens has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 512 yards with four touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 104.0.

“I’ve told a lot of these players, Nick is a great example of working, such that, when your opportunity presents itself, you’re ready and good things come from that,” Lynch said. “I talked to my own kids about that. Nick Mullens is a great story because of the way he goes about his work each and every day.”