Reunited with Kyle Shanahan, Alfred Morris sees an opportunity with 49ers

Reunited with Kyle Shanahan, Alfred Morris sees an opportunity with 49ers

HOUSTON – Veteran running back Alfred Morris sees an opening with the 49ers and he is ready to hit the hole.

He has a history with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator in Washington for Morris’ first two NFL seasons. Those also happened to be his best two NFL seasons, rushing for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Morris remained on the free-agent market for five months before agreeing this week to a veteran-minimum salary with the 49ers to be reunited with Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner.

“I was just waiting for an opportunity,” Morris said after joining his new team in Houston for the first of two joint practices with the Texans.

“Kyle called and said there’s an opportunity. ‘We’ll give you an opportunity to play and showcase what you can do.’ And I was like, ‘OK, that’s all I can ask for.’ ”

The 49ers signed Morris after injuries to Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida. McKinnon (calf strain) and Breida (separated shoulder) will not take part in any contact practices or play in any of the 49ers’ remaining three exhibition games. Both players are expected to be ready for opening of the regular season on Sept. 9 against the Minnesota Vikings.

On the surface, it appears Morris, 29, still faces an uphill climb to win a spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster to open the season. Raheem Mostert, one of the 49ers’ top special-teams players, Joe Williams, Jeremy McNichols and Jeff Wilson are also competing for jobs.

In addition to vast NFL experience and knowledge of Shanahan’s scheme, Morris (5-foot-11, 222 pounds) offers a more physical style of running than the other backs in camp. In six NFL seasons with Washington and Dallas, Morris has averaged 4.4 yards while rushing for 5,503 yards and 32 touchdowns.

“I am a different type of runner, a different type of build than the rest of the guys (with the 49ers),” he said. “I think I will be a complement to whatever they want to do. I just have to make the most of my opportunity and I’m sure I can find a spot on the team and be able to be used however they want to use me.”

“It’s going to be a process, but after the first day, I think it went very well,” Morris said. “They gave me some opportunities to get in there and get my feet wet. That’s good, because I need to get my legs back under me. Only football gets you ready for football.”

49ers camp report: Ward, Texans' Hopkins ejected for fighting on first play

49ers camp report: Ward, Texans' Hopkins ejected for fighting on first play

HOUSTON – The most significant play of the 49ers-Texans joint practice Wednesday occurred on the first round of one-on-one matchups.

Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best in the business. Cornerback Jimmie Ward still has a lot of work to do as he switches to the outside after beginning last season as the 49ers' starting free safety.

The 49ers and Ward, in particular, can benefit from going up against Hopkins, who recorded 96 catches for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. But Hopkins and Ward hit the showers early on Tuesday before they had even had a chance to work up much of a sweat. Both were kicked out of practice for fighting.

“We’ve made it very clear that if anyone throws punches or if you do anything that will get you ejected from the game, you’ll be done with practice,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “So both players were removed from practice. Hopefully, they learned it and come back tomorrow and practice.”

During a one-on-one drill in the first minute of integrated work, Ward tried to jam Hopkins at the line of scrimmage. He got his right hand near Hopkins’ chinstrap and his helmet popped off. Hopkins caught the pass, and Ward took a swipe at the football. Hopkins shoved Ward, then threw a punch. Ward countered, and the two fell to the ground as players and coaches tried to separate them.

Ward was scheduled to line up at left cornerback in place of Richard Sherman, who did not take part in competitive drills as he returns from a hamstring strain. In Ward’s absence, Greg Mabin took over with the 49ers’ first-team defense.

“It’s a missed opportunity on a bunch of levels,” Saleh said. “One, you don’t get to face a guy like Hopkins. But it’s a trickle-down effect. Now, other people need to pick up Jimmie’s reps.

“It’s a real thing when you get ejected in a game, it’s a trickle-down effect all the way through.”

There did not appear to be any lingering bitterness, as Hopkins and Ward shook hands before departing the practice field.

Going up Against the Best

Rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey ended up on his backside during his first one-on-one pass-rush drill against Texans defensive J.J. Watt, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. After that, though, McGlinchey appeared to make an adjustment and fare better against Watt.

San Francisco nose tackle Earl Mitchell, who played on the same defensive line as Watt while with the Texans, said he tried to give McGlinchey a heads-up before the practice.

“I did what I could,” Mitchell said. “But he’s got to learn the ropes, man. Got to have some growing pains. I’m sure J.J. gave him some work and I’m sure it’s going to be beneficial for his career.”

Offensive Play of the Day

In an end-of-game scenario, the 49ers took over at their own 40-yard line with :55 remaining and trailing 24-20. On the final play from the Houston 13, Garoppolo bought time in the pocket and delivered a touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon, who tapped both feet inbounds for the touchdown.

Defensive Play of the Day

Mabin, filling in for Sherman and Ward, was tested on a fourth-down play and he had perfect positioning in order to break up Deshaun Watson’s pass intended for Will Fuller.

Moore Gets Tested

Rookie cornerback Tarvarius Moore saw a lot of action come his way late in practice. He broke up a Brandon Weeden pass intended for Sammie Coates Jr. On the next play, Coates beat Moore for a 40-yard gain.

“They came back on a back shoulder the next time because of his style of play being on top,” Saleh said. “That’s the cat-and-mouse game he’s got to learn. When is it OK to be on the low hip? When can I stay on the high hip? It’s a great sequence of events for him to learn off of. He had a really good day off of what I saw with the one-on-ones and team.”

This ‘n’ That

Newly signed veteran running back Alfred Morris was issued No. 36 and took a several of handoffs in 49ers team drills against the Texans. . . Guard Joshua Garnett had an encouraging practice, as he handled third-year nose tackle Marcus Hardison in one-on-one drills and lined up with the second-team offense. Garnett missed extended time in training camp with a knee condition . . . Former 49ers receiver Bruce Ellington took a knee next to Garçon and engaged in a long conversation with the veteran wideout during a down time during special-teams drills. . . Wide receiver Trent Taylor had an impressive day as Garoppolo looked for him often in team drills. Out of Garoppolo’s first seven completions, five went to Taylor. The other two went to Marquise Goodwin. . . Three of Tyrann Mathieu’s 11 career interceptions came against the 49ers when he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals. He picked off a Garoppolo pass on Wednesday. . . Defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu returned to practice after missing several days with a groin strain. He got consistent pressure on the quarterback during his 11-on-11 action. . .Sheldon Day and DeForest Buckner also got steady pressure on the Houston quarterbacks.

Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park


Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park

The 49ers arrived in Houston on Tuesday, where they will hold joint practices with the Texans on Wednesday and Thursday. On Sunday, the two teams will play a preseason game.

With no team activities schedule on Tuesday, rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis took full advantage of the free time. His father is Astros third base coach Gary Pettis, so the younger Pettis donned Astros gear and took batting practice at Minute Maid Park.

In video posted by Fox 26's Mark Berman, Pettis deposited a few balls into the Crawford Box.

Check out the video here: