The San Francisco 49ers had rookie guard Joshua Garnett active on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, marking his first week on the game-day 46. He did not play at guard during the game, but did get six special teams snaps.
The 49ers worked Garnett at right guard when training camp started, but eventually he moved over to left guard, his primary college position. The coaching staff has talked about the need for positional flexibility, and particularly with the game-day roster limited the number of offensive linemen who can be active.
On Monday, head coach Chip Kelly was asked if the team has worked Garnett on the right side in recent weeks. Here’s what Kelly had to say:
“Yeah, we have. The one thing with Josh, and he’s coming along, but he missed all of the spring. So, our real first, I think he had three days in the spring and that was it and then we got him in and we started in August. He’s still coming along. He’s played multiple positions. He’s been the backup on the left side. We started to get him some reps on the right side. For a young player to flip-flop sides, to do things from a technique standpoint, he’s obviously sharp, has done some things from a mental standpoint where he has an understanding of what we’re doing, but now it’s just the technique things and making sure you’re on point. When you’re going against, first week it was [Los Angeles Rams DT] Aaron Donald, second week it’s Kawann Short. You’ve got some pretty good three-techniques there to get matched up and you’re going to leave your guard in one-on-one situations. You want to make sure you’re being fair to him too. He will get some reps there again this week. He got some there last week and we’ll continue to see how he develops, but I’m encouraged with where he is going, but we’re not just going to throw him out there to the wolves right now.”
On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins was asked what the plan was for Garnett this week.
“I think Josh, for one, is getting more and more comfortable with NFL speed, period, whether he’s left guard or right guard. But, we’ll continue to get him reps and kind of see where it fits. The main thing for him is just to get him reps and get him more and more comfortable with the speed of the game in the NFL. I think he’s doing a good job of that. I think he’s coming. I think he’s close, but we’ve just got to keep working. We’ve got another week, another day of preparation that starts today on the field. We’ve just got to keep working him and see where it falls at the end of the week.”
Modkins said that John Theus was working at both tackle positions during practice. Anthony Davis is in the concussion protocol, so his status for this weekend is up in the air. Last weekend, the 49ers had Garnett and Marcus Martin active as the backups, but Zane Beadles was the reserve swing tackle. Modkins said Theus is getting close, so we’ll have to wait and see if he ends up active one of these days.
Martin remains the only backup center, so it seems likely he will remain active. Beadles has gotten some practice at center in the past, but for the time being, there is nobody else behind Daniel Kilgore. They won’t be giving Garnett snaps there in practice since he is still working his way up at the guard positions.