Fresh off of having a solid practice on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers re-grouped and look to be laser-focused in preparing for the Dallas Cowboys on Monday. With only two days remaining for the 49ers’ first preseason game, the fine tuning has begun towards Thursday night’s showdown.
DL DeForest Buckner
Although LB Reuben Foster receives the lion’s share of the media attention, the 49ers’ most productive defender has always been DL DeForest Buckner. The third-year lineman has been a one-man wrecking crew from the inside, but on Monday, the 49ers rolled Buckner out to a new position — outside rusher.
Rushing from one of the end spots, Buckner had a would-be sack on QB Jimmy Garoppolo, when the 49ers’ quarterback didn’t even have a chance to go through his progressions. In his post-practice presser, Buckner mentioned that he’s been watching Jaguars’ DL Calais Campbell on how to develop his game from the outside.
Campbell was able to rack up 14.5 sacks with the Jaguars in a similar role for the system that Robert Saleh employs in San Francisco. 49ers’ fans will be looking forward to a similar growth in Buckner this upcoming season.
TE Garrett “Celek Time”
After missing Sunday’s practice, QB C.J. Beathard returned on Monday and didn’t seem to miss a beat. Rolling out to his left, Beathard threw back to TE Garrett Celek, who came up with a one-handed grab that left the crowd saying “ooooh” and “aaaah.”
Celek has been quietly having a good camp, especially with the lack of back-end tight end depth for the 49ers. The Cole brothers — Hikutini and Wick, have both been missing time with injuries, allowing for George Kittle and Celek to get all the reps.
The 49ers’ veteran tight end will continue to be a huge part of the Kyle Shanahan’s offense this upcoming season, building off of his strong training camp showing.
49ers’ Public Relations Staff
Ahead of every preseason game, the 49ers’ public relations staff will send out the team’s depth chart for the week. The first unofficial — with emphasis on the unofficial — depth chart was released on Monday to the media and fans.
Naturally, like with any piece of news in August, it typically results in the outrage of the fans. Social media was ablaze with some of the choices on the depth chart. “How could [insert player X] be in front of [insert player Y]!?,” was the typical reaction from most fans.
Let’s pump the brakes on over reacting to any of the ordering listed on this unofficial chart, for a variety of reasons. First, the depth chart is driven from the 49ers’ PR team, not the coaching staff. There’s usually very little input from Kyle Shanahan, which significantly de-values the rankings on the depth chart.
Unbeknownst to the 49ers’ PR staff, they were involved in stirring the pot for Monday’s slow news cycle, causing them to end up on the losers list.
DB Jimmie Ward
The 49ers’ second-highest paid defensive player finally stepped on the practice field after missing the last week with a hamstring injury. While this should be a positive thing for the 49ers’ defense — I actually think it’s the opposite.
The ex-Northern Illinois defender played safety in Robert Saleh’s system last season, but looks to transition to a new role in Year Two — outside cornerback. Combine that with a myriad of injuries and the future is starting to look blurry for Ward.
Ahkello Witherspoon and Richard Sherman are the starters, with Tarvarius Moore, Tarvarus McFadden, D.J. Reed and Greg Mabin set to be the primary backups. Ward will have to learn his new position and seek his place amongst these players once again.
With $8.5 million fully guaranteed for 2018, there’s virtually no chance Ward doesn’t make the roster in 2018, but his future in San Francisco after this season looks non-existent.