Fresh off of having no practice on Saturday, the San Francisco 49ers re-grouped and look to be laser-focused in preparing for the Dallas Cowboys. With only three days left for the preseason opener, it’s the perfect time to see who’s stock is rising — and who’s is falling — after Sunday’s practice.
The 49ers’ defense faced two minor injuries during Sunday’s practice. Starting outside corner Richard Sherman hurt his hamstring and is positioned to be out for the rest of the week. Nickel CB K’Waun Williams rolled his ankle, with no time table on his return.
That’s two of the three most important corners on the team down with minor ailments. While this may seem like a negative, this opens the door for some of the younger defenders on this team to develop their game.
CBs Greg Mabin and Tyvis Powell stepped in for Richard Sherman, both flaunting their skills, breaking up passes on multiple occasions. DB D.J. Reed is poised for a huge chance with Williams out for extended time. Reed should be the primary backup for Williams and S Adrian Colbert — after a lot of training camp snaps.
WR Steven Dunbar Jr.
One of the biggest knocks on San Francisco’s receiving corps is their lack of size. Looking down line of their best pass catchers, Pierre Garçon and Dante Pettis might be the tallest — at 6-foot-1.
In the red zone, it certainly helps to have a player that QB Jimmy Garoppolo can lob the ball up to and allow to play jump ball with the defender.
In a crowded receiver room, WR Steven Dunbar Jr. certainly seems to be making a lot of noise. With heavy competition for the last wide receiver roster spot, Dunbar Jr. seems to be making an outside case. Standing tall at 6-foot-3, the ex-Houston WR had the catch of the day on an over-the-shoulder grab on a deep route.
While it’s a long shot that Dunbar Jr. lands on the 53-man roster, John Lynch should be hoping that he can retain him on the practice squad.
Picks, Picks and More Picks
While this could also fall under the ‘Losers’ category for the 49ers’ quarterbacks, it’s more of a positive for the 49ers’ defensive backs.
During Sunday’s practice, the secondary was in full attack mode, picking off the 49ers’ signal caller multiple times. DB Tyvis Powell — who filled in for injured Richard Sherman — picked off QB C.J. Beathard. Rookie Tarvarius Moore intercepted third-string QB Nick Mullens on a pass intended for WR Ross Dwelley.
LB Eli Harold was the recipient of a tipped ball in the end zone. D.J. Reed — who took over for K’Waun Williams — picked off a Jack Heneghan pass.
The 49ers will likely utilize George Kittle and Garrett Celek heavily during the season, but their depth beyond the two seems pretty bleak. Cole Hikutini and Cole Wick have both been injured and haven’t been able to contribute during training camp.
John Lynch and Co. will likely need one more contributor, even though Kittle and Celek will be significant pieces in the passing game. With the Cole brothers hurt, the 49ers’ general manager should look to the market to bring in another tight end.
By no means is it time to hit the panic button on veteran corner Richard Sherman. But, it’s also time to accept that Sherman’s returning from a torn achilles and is having a tough camp in comparison to his other DBs.
While there have been some highlight clips Sherman’s interceptions and pass breakups, he’s also been routinely during practice. To top it all off, Sherman’s facing a hamstring injury that’s bound to keep him out for at least another week of camp.
Sherman shouldn’t be forced to return during camp, but only be focused on Week 1 against the Vikings.