Matt Maiocco

49ers notes: Practices heat up with Texans in Houston

49ers notes: Practices heat up with Texans in Houston

The 49ers arrived Monday evening in Houston, where temperatures in the mid-90s – and more than a bit of humidity -- await the team’s two practices this week against the Texans.

After 14 practices at the team’s facility in Santa Clara, the 49ers figure to learn a lot more about their roster while facing a different opponent during two-hour practice sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’re very sick of going against the same scheme every day,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It’ll be nice to go against something else, you know? Offensively and defensively, and it gives you two practices where you can go against different stuff, which prepares all your players for what they’re going to see during the year.

“And just for the monotony of camp, it’s good to change it up.”

The 49ers will be a bit short-handed for the practices. Eleven players sat out the team’s practice Monday due to injuries. Running back Joe Williams is scheduled to rejoin the team. The 49ers also plan to sign veteran running back Alfred Morris. The 49ers’ top two running backs, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida, are out for the remainder of the preseason with injuries.

The injuries across the board have impacted how the 49ers practice. Because of thinning depth, the 49ers do not have enough healthy bodies to form a full No. 3 unit.

“Once you start losing those guys, it adds a lot on another person,” Shanahan said. “Once you see a guy having to take reps with the twos and with the threes, it’s just a matter of time before that guy gets hurt. Those are the things you’ve got to pay attention to. You can get away with it for a little bit and you know you’re going to put a lot on a guy, but eventually once you see it’s too much you’ve got to stop the drill and just move on. It’s not worth it.”

After two practices against the Texans, the 49ers will have a day off on Friday before facing Houston on Saturday in the second preseason game for both teams.

McGlinchey Readies for Work vs. Watt

After being satisfied with his performance during his 23 snaps in the exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys, 49ers rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey is bracing for what figures to be his best learning experience since being the No. 9 overall draft pick.

McGlinchey is likely to go up against Texans perennial All-Pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt in two practices. The reports out of Houston is that Watts has looked close to his former self after two injury-plagued seasons. He did not play in the Texans’ exhibition opener, though. McGlinchey could see practice time against Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

“It’s definitely going to be fun,” McGlinchey said. “It’s why you play in the NFL, to play against the biggest and baddest dudes.”

Morris Steps in to Compete

Part of the reason the 49ers are bringing in Morris to join the team is because he already is familiar with Shanahan’s system. But Morris will also get an opportunity to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster. Morris spent two seasons with Shanahan in Washington, and Shanahan said he should have no problem picking up the 49ers playbook.

“There’s not big changes and it’s not that tough for a back,” Shanahan said. “They’ve got to set their track the right way and you hand it off to them and go run. We have a way that we coach guys and stuff, but everyone, when you’re away from something, it’s going to take some time. He is going to be rusty with that stuff, but he’ll get the hang of it.”

Undrafted rookie OL Alan Knott was waived to make room for Morris. 

This ‘N’ That

Shanahan bristled when asked if the injuries of training camp could have been avoided. “Soft tissue injuries, yeah, they can be prevented by having them not doing anything and sit there and just not get hurt and then it will happen in Week 1,” Shanahan said. “It’s just part of it. I think we are pretty smart with what we do. There’s a fine line, a very fine line. If a player is complaining about being tight, we can sit there and shut him down and then every single person who ever complains about being tight, you can shut down and then ask a group of 90 people in training camp to raise their hands on who’s tight. Ninety people will raise their hand.” . . . McKinnon grabbed behind his right knee after sustaining an injury in practice on Sunday. The fears were alleviated when an MRI revealed a calf strain, which will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the exhibition season. “No one realizes your calf goes that high,” Shanahan said. “So I think he was worried about it just where it was and then once he got the assurance that it was his calf, it made sense that he didn’t have that much pain. I think he felt much better. But at least he feels good that he’ll be ready for Week 1.”

49ers camp report: Richard Sherman's workload increases on second day back

49ers camp report: Richard Sherman's workload increases on second day back

SANTA CLARA – Cornerback Richard Sherman’s work load increased on his second day back on the 49ers’ practice field after sitting out eight days with a hamstring strain.

Sherman was limited to individual drills on Sunday, but he saw more action on Monday, including participating in an 11-on-11 session in the red zone. The 49ers had a lighter day of work, practicing in shells and helmets in their last day of work before traveling to Houston.

The 49ers will practice Wednesday and Thursday against the Houston Texans before a day off. On Saturday, the teams meet in the second exhibition game for both clubs.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said there would be conversations with Sherman and the team medical staff before determining his plan for the week.

“He knows his body pretty well,” Shanahan said. “We’re trying to ease him in. He wanted to get a few reps today in team and stuff where we kind of had an idea what plays they were and stuff. You could just mirror his feet and get a little bit of competition. We’re still taking it very slowly with him. We’ll reassess that and how we feel when we go against another team.”

Sherman made a leaping break-up of a Jimmy Garoppolo pass intended for wide receiver Kendrick Bourne in the front right corner of the end zone during a red-zone drill.

Participation Report

Injuries kept 11 players out of practice on Monday, while six other players were “limited” and another, guard Mike Person, had a recovery day to rest up.

Here’s the list of players who did not practice: running backs Jerick McKinnon (calf) and Matt Breida (shoulder), wide receiver Max McCaffrey (foot), tight end George Kittle (shoulder), offensive lineman Garry Gilliam (concussion), defensive linemen Arik Amstead (hamstring) and Solomon Thomas (concussion), linebackers Malcolm Smith (hamstring), Eli Harold (knee) and Jeremiah Attaochu (groin), and cornerback K’Waun Williams (ankle).

Sherman, guard Joshua Garnett (knee), linebackers Fred Warner (chest) and Brock Coyle (hip), tight end Cole Wick (knee) and offensive lineman JP Flynn (knee) were limited.

Transaction

The 49ers plan to sign veteran running back Alfred Morris, pending a physical, after the club arrives in Houston for two days of practices and an exhibition game. The 49ers have a shortage of running backs with McKinnon and Breida out for the remainder of the preseason. Morris (5 foot 10, 222 pounds) will have an opportunity to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster, Shanahan said. Morris, 29, a six-year NFL veteran, played his first two NFL seasons with Shanahan as his offensive coordinator with Washington. He rushed for a career-high 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie. In his second season, Morris gained 1,275 yards rushing with seven touchdowns.

This ‘n’ That

Running back Joe Williams, who was excused from practice the past two days to attend the funeral of a family member, will rejoin the team in Houston. . . Erik Magnuson worked with the first-team offense at right guard with Person on the sideline. Jonathan Cooper got practice time with the second team. Garnett saw limited time with the third unit. The 49ers cut back the number of third-team reps due to the team’s injury situation. . . Tight end Cole Hikutini made a leaping 10-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone against the coverage of free safety Adrian Colbert. . . Colbert later broke up an 8-yard pass intended for Dante Pettis in the front of the end zone. . . Linebacker Korey Toomer intercepted a Nick Mullens pass. . . Garoppolo hit tight end Garrett Celek with a 33-yard pass against Cassius Marsh, who dropped into coverage. As the ball was in flight, teammates began yelling, “Celek Time!” long before it dropped into his hands. . . Mullens hit Aaron Burbridge with a 40-yard pass over rookie cornerback Tarvarus McFadden on the final play of practice.

49ers to sign veteran running back Alfred Morris

49ers to sign veteran running back Alfred Morris

SANTA CLARA – With their top two running backs sidelined for the remainder of the preseason, the 49ers plan to sign veteran running back Alfred Morris, coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday.

Morris, 29, a six-year NFL veteran, will join the 49ers in Houston in advance of the team’s two practices against the Texans and Saturday’s exhibition game. Morris must pass a physical for the signing to become official.

Morris played two seasons with Washington with coach Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator. He rushed for a career-high 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie and 1,275 yards in his second season with Shanahan.

“Alfred did a great job with us for the two years I was with him,” Shanahan said. “It’s not flashy, but he runs extremely hard. He’s very reliable. You block it for zero (yards) , and he can usually get at least 1. He’s a hard-nosed runner who you can keep handing the ball off to.”

The 49ers will not have the services of starting running back Jerick McKinnon (calf strain) or Matt Breida (separated shoulder) for the final three games of the exhibition season. Joe Williams, who missed two practices while attending the funeral of a family member, will rejoin the 49ers on Tuesday in Houston.

Morris appeared in 14 games with the Dallas Cowboys last season. He rushed for 547 yards and one touchdown on 115 carries. Shanahan said Morris will have a legitimate chance to make the 49ers’ 53-man roster.

“I told him I waited so long to invite him because I wouldn’t invite him unless I believed he had a chance to make the team,” Shanahan said. “I do believe he has a chance to make the team here. And that’s all Alfred wanted -- a chance to compete.

“I think with some of these injuries we’ve had, now he does have a chance to compete. He’s getting in late, but we’ll see how he does over these next few weeks. If he’s running the same way he always has, he’ll have a chance.”

In 92 career games, 62 starts, Morris has gained 5,503 yards and 32 touchdowns on 1,262 rushing attempts for a 4.4-yard average.