The 49ers concluded their final spring practice on Wednesday. They will assemble Thursday, but only will have meetings and an extended workout session with strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright.
“When I told them that, they said they’d rather have practice,” Kyle Shanahan joked. “So they have mixed feelings about having two hours with Ray, but it will be good for them.”
Then the 49ers will bring in bouncy castles, families will arrive and the group will have a late afternoon barbecue.
Perhaps the biggest headline to come out of the minicamp is that there were no major injuries. The team had a scare midway through Wednesday’s practice when second-string “Mike” linebacker Brock Coyle went to the ground and lay there for about a minute. His teammates gathered around him and took a knee. But he eventually got up, walked to the sideline on his own and was back at his normal spot in the rotation a little later in the session.
It was another rough outing for the offense and the passing game. During a particular sequence, the offense was practicing a scenario in which they had 70 seconds left in the period. When the first-team units were on the field, Brian Hoyer was picked off by safety Eric Reid on a pass intended for rookie tight end George Kittle.
At that point the second teams took over. Matt Barkley’s third pass, however, was intercepted along the sideline by cornerback Will Davis, who screened receiver Aldrick Robinson to make the play. The third-team offense’s sequence ended in similar fashion when rookie safety Chanceller James — who was mentioned in yesterday’s report — intercepted fellow rookie C.J. Beathard and took off for the end zone where the rest of the 49ers defense mobbed him.
One of the players who celebrated James’ interception was Reuben Foster, who gave James an enthusiastic and forceful high five. Why mention that? Foster used his right arm for the high five, the same one on which he had shoulder surgery earlier this year. Foster has been held out of team sessions to this point in order to avoid a freak collision. However, for the first time this spring, he fully went through individual drills, hitting and discarding the blocking sleds, etc. as hard as his teammates. Shanahan said Foster would be “more than ready” when the team has its first training-camp practice July 28.
Third-round draft pick Ahkello Witherspoon lined up with the first-team defense at left cornerback on three separate series on Wednesday. Rashard Robinson (minor injury) still isn’t back in full. Keith Reaser mostly had filled in for Robinson the last two weeks. On Wednesday, however, Reaser played nickel cornerback with the first-team unit at times (K’Waun Williams also is dealing with a minor injury), leaving Witherspoon and Dontae Johnson as the first-team cornerbacks. As I wrote earlier today, it seems likely that Robinson will start at one of the outside cornerback spots with the other being a three-man competition among Johnson, Reaser and Witherspoon.
Hoyer finished the afternoon 11-20. He did throw touchdown passes — to Pierre Garcon and Carlos Hyde — on his final two passes of the red-zone period. The best quarterback in red-zone work was Barkley, who threw touchdowns to Kittle and receiver DeAndre Smelter. C.J. Beathard also threw a touchdown to Kittle.
Ahmad Brooks sat out the session with a minor injury. Eli Harold played strong-side linebacker with the first-team defense and nearly had the fourth interception of the afternoon, swatting at Hoyer’s pass at the line up scrimmage and batting it into the air where several linemen had a chance at the ball but ultimately could not grab it.
On Tuesday, center Jeremy Zuttah took a number of snaps at right guard. On Wednesday, Daniel Kilgore took repetitions at right guard with the second-team offense. It seems that whoever is not the starter at center will be expected to be the top backup at guard and center on game days.
When Coyle was on the sideline, undrafted rookie Donavin Newsom filled in at “Mike” linebacker with the second-team defense. Later in the practice, when he was back with the third-team defense, Newsom scooped up a loose ball and raced into the end zone. Joe Staley, who had been on the sideline, tried to chase him down but admitted he couldn’t have made the tackle. “I didn’t have the angle,” he said.