Niners rookie RB Joe Williams ran for 60 yards on 7 carries in Friday night's preseason opener at Kansas City -- an 8.6-yard average -- and showed the quick acceleration that got many excited about him around draft time. Just as notably, however, Williams was the 3rd RB in, following Carlos Hyde and undrafted rookie Matt Breida. Hyde had a quiet night -- 2 carries, 0 yards -- but appears to be in good shape to keep his starting role. We'll see where the Williams-Breida competition goes behind him, though. Breida has generated some slight buzz in training camp.
Niners DT DeForest Buckner left Friday night's game against the Chiefs early with an ankle injury. The team quickly ruled him out for the game. We'll look for further details on the injury. Buckner played an exorbitant number of snaps as a rookie and delivered strong IDP numbers.
Niners DT DeForest Buckner left Wednesday's practice with a sprained left ankle. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that Buckner got it taped on the sideline and tried to "walk it off" but could not return to the field. That makes the injury sound relatively minor, but we'll see how long he's out.
49ers HC Kyle Shanahan believes RB Carlos Hyde has "taken it to another level." Shanny continued, "He started making a move, just his work ethic and just his attention to detail, about halfway through (organized team activities), which we were really excited about." It was doom-and-gloom for Hyde for much of the offseason, but now he's been talked up by his coach and his GM over the last week. He remains the favorite for lead duties in San Francisco and has seen his ADP drop into the mid-5th round.
Deep balls to WR Marquise Goodwin have been a regular occurrence early in 49ers training camp, according to insider Cam Inman. QB Brian Hoyer and Goodwin connected for a 60-yarder on Monday. Goodwin has world-class speed (he clocked a 4.27-second 40 time at the Combine) but never emerged as more than a situational deep threat in Buffalo. It sounds like he's the leader in the clubhouse for the #2 WR job in San Francisco, though. More volume would certainly help. Still, it's tough to imagine him emerging as more than a late-round target in best-ball leagues, where his weekly volatility won't hurt.
Niners S Jimmie Ward suffered a hamstring injury Thursday in the team's conditioning test and has been placed on the PUP, according to CSN Bay Area. HC Kyle Shanahan said they don't believe the injury is serious but that they want to "be smart" about when to return him to the field. The team is reportedly viewing Ward's injury as a "week to week" situation. Jaquiski Tartt will fill in while Ward is out.
Niners rookie LB Reuben Foster gained medical clearance for his rehabbed shoulder and participated in the team's 1st training-camp practice Friday, according to CSN Bay Area. That significant because the 1st-round pick missed all offseason work as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery. The injury may have played a key role in pushing him down near the bottom of Round 1 in the NFL Draft. But if he can avoid setbacks, Foster could quickly overtake limited veteran Malcolm Smith for the weak-side LB job.
49ers GM John Lynch said Thursday that RB Carlos Hyde changed his physique to fit the team's offense. (We're assuming this means he dropped weight in preparation for HC Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme.) "He looks tremendous," Lynch said. It's a rare piece of positive news on Hyde this offseason. Lynch had previously questioned his fit in Shanny's offense; insider Grant Cohn reported that Hyde struggled in spring workouts; and the 'Niners added rookie Joe Williams to the backfield. Hyde is still the favorite to lead this backfield in touches, but it'll be a situation worth monitoring throughout August.
49ers GM John Lynch talked up rookie TE George Kittle in a Tuesday radio appearance. "He’s got some suddenness to him in his movements. He catches the ball extremely well," Lynch said. "I think George gives us something we don’t have in a playmaker down near the red zone, where you’ve got a one-on-one matchup ... We feel like George Kittle maybe gives us something where he is that guy, in a one-on-one situation you can flex him out, put him in the middle of the field and he can kind of impose his will and just out-athlete people. " Kittle has been buzzing since being selected in the 5th round of this spring's draft. He impressed onlookers in minicamp earlier this month, when he got run with the 1st-team offense. We're still skeptical of a rookie TE in what will very likely be a subpar offense, but Kittle's progress will be worth monitoring when training camp opens in about a month. At minimum, he's an intriguing dynasty stash.
49ers TE George Kittle worked exclusively with the starting offense during Tuesday's minicamp practice, according to insider Grant Cohn. "For long stretches, Kittle was [QB Brian] Hoyer’s go-to guy," Cohn added. San Francisco's new brass isn't high on TE Vance McDonald, and the rest of the TE group reads Garrett Celek, Logan Paulsen and Blake Bell. Kittle didn't put up big numbers at Iowa but earned the top SPARQ score in this year's loaded TE class. He could certainly carve out a rookie-year role.
49ers RB Carlos Hyde is struggling in new HC Kyle Shanahan's offense, at least according to insider Grant Cohn. "Hyde is the slowest and most indecisive running back on the team," Cohn writes. "... He doesn’t seem to have the vision to succeed in Kyle Shanahan’s outside-zone running scheme." It's only June, of course, and this is just 1 beat writer's opinion. But it'll only add fuel to the Joe Williams fire. Shanahan reportedly banged the table for the rookie, who's one-cut-and-go style seems like a good fit for the offense. This will be a backfield to monitor closely when training camp opens.
49ers insider Eric Branch doesn't consider TE Vance McDonald a lock to make the final roster. Former GM Trent Baalke handed McDonald a 5-year, $35 million extension just last December, but the new regime evidently doesn't see him as a fit. GM John Lynch even admitted that McDonald was on the trade block during the draft. We'll see how this ends, but McDonald isn't worth even a late pick in fantasy drafts right now.
The 49ers selected Louisiana Tech WR Trent Taylor in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The small-school version of Ryan Switzer, Taylor goes 5’8 and 181 pounds with a 26th percentile SPARQ score. That obviously makes him a long shot for fantasy value, although he did put up huge numbers in a pass-happy college offense.
The 49ers snagged Iowa TE George Kittle in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The 6’4, 247-pounder surprised with a 97th percentile SPARQ score in the pre-draft process. He doesn’t play that athletically but did average 15.4 yards per catch across 4 college seasons. Kittle is also a more-than-willing blocker and comes from a pro-style offense. There’s some sleeper appeal here. Note that insider Michael Lombardi reported Friday that TE Vance McDonald is on the trade block.
The 49ers selected Utah RB Joe Williams in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Williams has red flag character concerns in his past — he was suspended at UConn for credit card theft in 2013 and quit abruptly while with Utah in 2016. He returned to the Utes after 1 month after the team endured backfield injuries. On the field, Williams will need to improve his ball security and prove that he can threaten defenses out of the backfield. But he’s an impressive athlete from both a speed and agility perspective. The 23-year-old really displayed his talent this past season vs. UCLA, ripping off 332 yards on 29 carries. Now in San Francisco, he'll compete with Tim Hightower and others for a reserve role behind Carlos Hyde. Note that Hyde is entering a contract year.
The 49ers drafted Iowa QB C.J. Beathard in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Bobby Beathard’s grandson started his final 2 college seasons, completing just 59.3% of his passes with 34 TDs vs. 15 INTs. C.J. draws high marks for his mechanics, football IQ and leadership ability. But he has borderline NFL skills and might be nothing more than a long-term backup. We’ll see what HC Kyle Shanahan can get out of him, but Beathard isn’t a threat for the 2017 starting job.
USA Today's Tom Pelissero reports that new Niners LB Reuben Foster will need a 2nd shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Assuming that proves true, the shoulder might have caused Foster's surprising 1st-round slide more than the other purported off-field concerns. Of course, a 2nd surgery would also likely affect his readiness for the 2017 season. We'll keep an eye on the situation for both Foster's 2017 outlook and dynasty rookie rankings purposes
The 49ers traded up to get a 2nd pick in Round 1 Thursday night and selected LB Reuben Foster. The Alabama alum slid a long way after a Combine that included a failed drug test and him getting sent home for mistreating an orderly. In San Francisco, Foster should win a starting job right away in the Niners' now 4-3 front. We'll see how the new coaching staff chooses to align him and NaVorro Bowman.
After moving down 1 spot, the Niners selected DL Solomon Thomas. That might have been the player most commonly mocked to them at #2. He could play any spot along San Francisco's new 4-3 base front after playing multiple roles at Stanford. We'd bet on him starting at DE. It's a nice addition to a D-line that already sports promise in young DTs DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead.
49ers GM John Lynch suggested that the team isn't sure RB Carlos Hyde is a good fit for new HC Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. “You have these thoughts as to ‘Do these skills translate to what we do?’” Lynch said. That came in a response to a report from insider Tony Pauline that the 'Niners are "ready to give up" on Hyde. That seems much too strong -- Lynch added that he's "really high" on Hyde and thinks he can be a "highly productive player." San Francisco only added journeyman Tim Hightower in free agency. We'll see what they do in the draft. Our money is still on Hyde operating as the 49ers' lead back -- at least in 2017, the final year of his current deal.
Zeke's gone for a while (or is he); Sammy Watkins is gone from Buffalo; and we have a whole weekend of preseason action to break down. Lots to get to as fantasy football drafts approach ...3:08pm EDT 8/15/17 Read More
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