Prior to Tuesday’s practice, Kyle Shanahan insisted the sessions haven’t been as one-sided in favor of the defense as last week’s practice was.
“I think we’ve struggled the most when you guys are watching,” he told reporters. “When you’re moving the ball and scoring points and hitting stuff in rhythm people can feel it. It’s usually contagious and it gets going. Then usually you go in and human nature — you feel good about yourself and the other team doesn’t and they come out and kick your ass the next day.”
Tuesday wasn’t quite a butt-kicking day for the offense, but it was decidedly better than last week’s practice. It included the first truly deep completion witnessed by reporters, a 50-plus yarder from Brian Hoyer to speedy receiver Marquise Goodwin that came on a play-action fake. Presumed starting cornerback Rashard Robinson took part in the early part of practice but was on the sideline during the team sessions. Keith Reaser was in coverage on Goodwin’s long catch.
Hoyer also hit tight end George Kittle on a long catch-and-run play in which there seemed to be a busted coverage. Another deep ball from Hoyer, this one to Aldrick Robinson, came with Reaser in coverage. It landed out of the receiver’s reach in the corner of the end zone.
Second-string quarterback Matt Barkley had a nice pass down the seam to Garrett Celek, who caught the ball in front of second-string strong safety Jaquiski Tartt.
A red-zone sequence at the midpoint of practice was won by the defense. Hoyer’s plays went like this:
* Incompletion to Carlos Hyde
* Completion to Tim Hightower at the 1-yard line
* Interception by NaVorro Bowman on a throw to tight end George Kittle
* Pass break-up by Malcolm Smith on a throw to Kittle
* Back-of-end zone touchdown to Trent Taylor, although Hoyer *may* have been sacked by DeForest Buckner.
Rookie C.J. Beathard was the next quarterback in and didn’t fare any better. He was intercepted by second-string free safety Vinnie Sunseri on one pass, although on the next he hit tight end Vance McDonald for a touchdown. The best pass of that drill may have come from undrafted Nick Mullens, who connected with undrafted tight end Cole Hikutini in the back of the end zone.
Tuesday’s session was the first that Jeremy Zuttah (hamstring) has taken part in. He played center at times with the first-string unit and also right guard with the second-string unit at which point Tim Barnes was playing center.
If the season started tomorrow, the 49ers offensive line would look like it did a year ago with a starting lineup of, from left to right: Joe Staley, Zane Beadles, Daniel Kilgore, Joshua Garnett and Trent Brown. However, Kilgore, Zuttah and Barnes will compete at center in training camp while Beadles, Garnett and Brandon Fusco will compete for the two guard spots. Zuttah also could get thrown into the guard competition.
An interesting development: Undrafted rookie Lorenzo Jerome, who has been the third-string free safety, took a lot of snaps as the second-string nickel cornerback on Tuesday. That’s likely in part because first-string nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams in recovering from a minor injury and Will Redmond has been playing with the first string. But it also may be because Jerome has been impressive and coaches are wondering what else he can do. Don Jones was the third-team free safety. he paired with good-looking rookie Chanceller James.
Newcomer Elvis Dumervil hung out with the defensive linemen but did not practice. He’s expected to be full go for training camp. He was wearing No. 58, his jersey number in Baltimore. The catch: His former, and now current, teammate Zuttah also has No. 58, which means that a settlement of sorts may be afoot. Dumervil reportedly likes 58 because there are five letters in his first name and eight in his last. (See: you learn something every time you read this space).
The injury Ahmad Brooks suffered last week does not appear to be serious, although Brooks was held out of practice. Eli Harold lined up at strong-side linebacker with the first-team unit and looked good in knocking down a pass attempt. Defensive lineman Chris Jones also had a batted pass as did first-string cornerback Dontae Johnson.
The second string cornerbacks on Tuesday were a pair of draft picks: Ahkello Witherspoon and Adrian Colbert. …. First-year kicker Nick Rose connected on a 50-plus-yard field goal … Retired referee Bill Leavy was on hand to instruct officials during the practice.