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|The 49ers appear to have found a promising piece for second-year coach Kyle Shanahan's offense if the first week of training camp is any indication. Rookie Dante Pettis Justin Abdelkader Jersey , a receiver drafted in the second round out of Washington, has been a quick study in Shanahan's complex scheme. He's also been a tough cover for opposing defensive backs, evident by his string of catches against the starting defense in full-team drills.
In fact, Pettis closed Wednesday's practice by catching a 45-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo, speeding by promising second-year player Ahkello Witherspoon, after earlier beating All-Pro Richard Sherman for a catch on a crossing route.
Pettis' ability to get open against physical NFL cornerbacks was a question mark after he was drafted. But Shanahan made a sizable bet that Pettis could do it given his work as a punt returner. Pettis set the NCAA record with nine punt return touchdowns during his four college seasons. He has been difficult to jam at the line of scrimmage in the early going.
"If you can make guys miss with your feet when you have the ball in your hand, you should be able to do it in routes, too," Shanahan said. "To combine that with his speed and his hands and his intelligence, which he is very smart, you feel pretty confident that he's going to continue to get better."
The 49ers traded up 15 spots in the second round to draft Pettis to add to a receiving corps headlined by dependable veteran Pierre Garcon and speedster Marquise Goodwin Auston Matthews Jersey , who has also looked good during recent practices.
Shanahan is hoping the offense can continue to progress after ranking third in yardage (410) and fifth in points per game (28. during the five-game winning streak with Garoppolo as a starter to end 2017.
While Goodwin, a former Olympic long jumper, has textbook sprinting form, Pettis has anything but. He has long limbs and an awkward running style. But he still finds ways to move efficiently and get separation from defenders. He first figured out he had unique movement skills in the seventh grade.
"I would watch film of me running and I was like, 'Why do I run so different than everybody else?' I didn't really get it and then I was just like 'All right, that's just how I run' and kind of accepted it," said Pettis.
Recent 49ers first-round draft picks have been bitten by the injury bug. Guard Joshua Garnett hasn't practiced since banging knees with a teammate Saturday and is listed as day to day.
Jimmie Ward has been sidelined since midway through Tuesday's practice with a hamstring injury, though he could return as soon as Friday. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead is also dealing with a hamstring issue and has been listed as week-to-week.
Ward and Armstead are expected to have significant roles for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who indicated he's not overly concerned about their absences from camp. But given NFL teams are allowed just 14 padded practices during the regular season, they are missing opportunities to hone their crafts.
"Anyone who's missing reps right now is missing valuable time," said Saleh. "If you're not getting your practice reps Youth Brandon Sutter Jersey , someone's going to pass you up. But, at the same time, those guys are doing a great job in walk through and meetings and making sure they're getting all of their mental reps so that when they do come back, they won't skip a beat."
NOTES: TE Cole Wick suffered a knee injury during team drills Thursday and was scheduled for further testing, the team said. ... LB Brock Coyle (hip) is expected to work back into practice next week, as will offensive lineman JP Flynn (knee) . LT Joe Staley, WR Pierre Garcon, CB Richard Sherman, RB Jerick McKinnon, DT Earl Mitchell, DT DeForest Buckner and LB Malcolm Smith were given Thursday off.
Patrick Mahomes II wants to get out of the huddle without any issues Scottie Upshall Jersey , call the right protections and limit his mistakes, all while leading the Chiefs to a couple of touchdowns when he plays the first quarter of their preseason opener against Houston on Thursday night.
If something doesn't work according to plan? He'll be in coach Andy Reid's ear to stay out there.
"I mean, yes, kind of," Mahomes said with a grin. "I know he's going to keep it where he can try to let everyone play and get everyone. But if I don't score I might say something to him."
There are a few things to unpack from that statement.
First, the Chiefs' new starting quarterback has high expectations for himself, perhaps even higher than those of a fan base that is already fawning over him. Second, he is secure enough to lobby a coach who's been at this for two decades to reconsider his plan. And third, he understands his job is to put up points, especially considering the myriad question marks surrounding the defense.
Oh, and fourth: There is a competitive streak in Mahomes that is nearly unrivaled.
"We are going to try to win. That is the first thing coach Reid said when we were game planning for this week is he doesn't like losing Brandon Montour Jersey Kids ," Mahomes said. "We're going to do whatever it takes. I am going to try to encourage those guys and help those guys on the sideline. We have a lot of competitors, so hopefully we can win the football game."
The result doesn't matter much, of course. It will likely be decided long after the starters exit following the first quarter, and probably after the backups hang up their helmets at halftime.
Still, the Chiefs hope to begin building some momentum for the regular season right away.
"You're looking for assignment football. You're looking, when the juices get going, how you handle that," Reid said. "You're in the stadium with the fans there. We've had a great turnout here (at camp), but it's a little different with the lights on and it's game time.
"It's one more evaluation period that you have a chance to see these guys in."
This will be Eric Bieniemy's debut as offensive coordinator after the longtime running backs coach was promoted to replace current Bears coach Matt Nagy. He has worked closely with Mahomes throughout camp and will be wearing the headset to communicate with him on game day.
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