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SANTA CLARA – Training camp No. 2 of the Kyle Shanahan era is upon the 49ers. It’s also the first one with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, so greater expectations and increased clarity abound.
At least 10 questions do linger around the revitalized franchise heading into Wednesday’s formal reporting date. Let’s study them:
10. Do they need Dez Bryant at wide receiver?
Using a second-round draft pick on Dante Pettis showed the 49ers’ desire to jazz up their receiving corps. So there isn’t exactly room for Dallas Cowboys castoff Dez Bryant, who turns 30 at midseason.
The 49ers seem set with Pettis joining last year’s three key receivers – Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor, the latter of whom is coming off back surgery. Maybe Kendrick Bourne can be the red-zone target that Bryant once was for Dallas.San Francisco 49ers’ Kendrick Bourne (84) celebrates against Arizona Cardinals’ Tramon Williams (25) in the fourth quarter of their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)
9. Which right guard will start?
Speaking of former Cowboys, Jonathan Cooper could thrust himself into the starting right guard spot. Cooper did not practice in the offseason program while recovering from knee surgery. He’s getting paid like a starter ($4 million) and thus has the lead over Joshua Garnett (2016 first-round pick from Stanford) and Mike Person (the probable backup center who played under Shanahan in Atlanta). Laken Tomlinson, fresh off a contract extension, is locked in at left guard next to Weston Richburg, the high-priced replacement to Daniel Kilgore.Joshua Garnett had an encouraging offseason after missing the 2017 season and more must be done to win the right guard job. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
8. Is Reuben Foster ready to roll?
Linebacker Reuben Foster’s tumultuous offseason resulted in a NFL-issued, two-game suspension. It also kept him out of most practices. So he has the next 5 1/2 weeks to get into football shape and remind everyone how dominant he can be. He was a ballhawk in last year’s camp as a rookie, when his habit of injury scares surfaced.San Francisco 49ers’ linebacker Reuben Foster (56) hugs Safety Jaquiski Tartt (29) during a mini-camp warm-up on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, at the team practice facility in Santa Clara, Calif. (Maritza Cruz/ Bay Area News Group)
7. Might Eric Reid return for safety depth?
The 49ers need to figure out who can back up Jaquiski Tartt, who’s locked in as the starting strong safety after signing an extension in April. Eric Reid only becomes a more attractive option to return to the team if younger safeties falter, and keep in mind Reid is suing the NFL for collusion. Chanceller James, Don Jones and Marcell Harris are top candidates if they bounce back from leg injuries. Undrafted rookie Terrell Williams fared well in offseason workouts and is worth a closer look.Like our San Francisco 49ers Facebook page for more 49ers news, commentary and conversation.
6. Which special teams aces emerge?
It’s going to be harder to make the 49ers roster than a year ago, and those final spots often are decided by versatile players capable of impacting special teams. Aaron Burbridge was such a player until he missed all of last season (hamstring), but he’s healthy and could force the 49ers to keep him amongst their receiving corps. Backup linebackers, cornerbacks and running backs also will have a say. As for return specialists, Pettis and Taylor are favorites over Victor Bolden Jr., D.J. Reed and Richie James.MINNEAPOLIS, MN – AUGUST 27: Raheem Mostert #31 of the San Francisco 49ers carries the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter in the preseason game on August 27, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the 49ers 32-31. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
5. Why aren’t top picks signed?
Right tackle Mike McGlinchey, the 49ers’ first-round pick, and Pettis remain unsigned. It’s not reason for panic, yet. The 49ers have their other draft picks under contract and figure to lock in their top choices in the coming week. McGlinchey is represented by the same agency (CAA) as the 49ers’ top 2017 pick, Solomon Thomas, who didn’t sign until the first practice of camp. McGlinchey didn’t express concern of his contract when asked about it last month.For complete 49ers coverage follow us on Flipboard.
4. Who might surprise as a sack artist?
Could Solomon Thomas become the first 49er to post double-digit sacks since Aldon Smith in 2012? Doubtful. He’ll line up on the edge on base downs and slide inside on passing situations where he fits best. DeForest Buckner is their top lineman and certainly should cause havoc on the interior, too. Thus, it’s up to Arik Armstead, Cassius Marsh, Eli Harold, Jeremiah Attaochu, Ronald Blair and anyone else to rack up sacks and strike fear into quarterbacks and offensive tackles.GLENDALE, AZ – OCTOBER 01: Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner #99 and defensive end Arik Armstead #91 of the San Francisco 49ers react after a defensive stop during the second half of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
3. Can Joe Williams seize a backfield job?
Don’t be surprised if newcomer Jerick McKinnon has one of the most productive seasons ever from a 49ers running back. He’ll need a breather, however, and the question is whether that job falls strictly on second-year back Matt Breida or if Joe Williams can emerge after a redshirt rookie year. Williams needs to consistently hustle and show he’s on top of things as a ball carrier, receiver and pass protector.San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Williams (32) runs against Los Angeles Chargers’ Isaac Rochell (98) and Los Angeles Chargers’ Nick Dzubnar (48) in the fourth quarter of their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
2. Who does Jimmy Garoppolo secretly admire?
Rather than fret over who Garoppolo is dating, 49ers fans should wonder about his on-field chemistry with Garçon and Goodwin. Garçon was out with a neck injury last season before Garoppolo’s arrival, and he should be a reliable target again with his physicality and veteran savvy. Goodwin proved more than just a deep threat but let’s see if Garoppolo can alleviate concerns about his deep-ball potential.
It’s time for Richard Sherman to step in at left cornerback and test out his repaired Achilles. He’s already brought a commanding presence as a leader. Now, can he revert to his All-Pro form he had as a Seattle Seahawk to torment the 49ers? If Sherman suffers a setback, the 49ers backup plans are to deploy Jimmie Ward (a $9 million backup at every spot in the secondary) or rookie Tarvarius Moore, although Tyvis Powell and Greg Mabin are in the mix, too.
Mark Maske | The Washington Post
The NFL has halted implementation of its new national anthem policy under an agreement with the NFL Players Association.
The two sides announced the deal Thursday night. The agreement also keeps the grievance filed by the NFLPA over the anthem policy, ratified by the NFL owners at their May meeting in Atlanta, from moving forward, at least temporarily.
“Everything is on hold,” said one person familiar with the situation, confirming that both implementation of the anthem policy by the league and the union’s grievance are included in that.
The league and union said in a joint written statement: “The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.”
The new anthem policy leaves it up to each team whether a player would be disciplined for a protest during the anthem. The policy says that a team will be fined by the league for any protest by its players. It gives players the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem but says any player who is on the field is expected to stand for the anthem.
SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a badminton coach on suspicion of molesting his student in a San Jose Park, authorities said Thursday.
Khankham Malaythong, 37, of San Jose, was found inside a parked 2018 Maserati around 9 p.m. July 12 at Joseph Grant Park, located on Mt. Hamilton Road. Santa Clara County Park rangers found him inside the vehicle with a 17-year-old girl, later determined to be his student, according to a Santa Clara sheriff’s spokesman.
Malaythong is a coach at the Synergy Badminton Academy in Menlo Park, whose website boasts that it is “Home to Olympians.” A person answering the phone Thursday at the academy said they were not authorized to discuss the case.
He was arrested at the scene on suspicion of annoying/molesting a minor, and sexual assault, the sheriff’s office said. He was released after posting bail.
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office investigators said they do not have any evidence of any additional victims. Anyone with information regarding the case can contact detective’s unit at 408-808-4500.
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OAKLAND – Bearing both an infectious smile and a calm demeanor, DeMarcus Cousins seemed at ease as he stepped on stage for the Warriors to introduce him.
Cousins’ positive body language did not just reveal his state of happiness for signing with the Warriors and sacrificing relative riches in hopes to help them win their fourth NBA championship in five years. It also captured his state of mind while rehabbing from a left Achilles tendon that he injured nearly seven months ago.
“My expectations, I plan on coming back and being the same dominant player I was, even better actually,” Cousins said at his introductory news conference on Thursday at the Warriors’ practice facility. “Nothing will change.”
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Plenty will change surrounding Cousins’ environment.
He first nursed frustration over losing with the Sacramento Kings for 6 ½ seasons and then over his recent injury last season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Cousins then signed with the Warriors with their taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.3 million) in hopes their winning environment and team-oriented culture will bring out his best.
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After averaging 21.5 points on 46 percent shooting and 11.0 rebounds and making four NBA All-Star appearances, Cousins touted his willingness to sublimate those numbers for the sake of fitting in with his All-Star teammates in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Both Warriors general manager Bob Myers and Cousins projected he can still offer his blend of low-post dominance, perimeter shooting and passing, a huge upgrade over the Warriors leaning on a plodding Zaza Pachulia and an unpredictable JaVale McGee last season.
“It’s a different dimension. It’s not something we’ve ever had as far as a low-post threat,” Myers said. “I’m excited.”
Before the 6-foot-11, 270-pounder can prove his dominance, though, Cousins first must prove if he can overcome an injury that has kept him sidelined since Jan. 27. He has reported completely healing his Achilles before needing to strengthen it.
“Rehab has been going great. I’m getting stronger and better every day,” Cousins said. “I’m progressing weekly, which is a positive. As far as the timetable, we’ll sit down and discuss as a team and figure out what’s the best.”
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What will the Warriors figure out is best?
Myers offered a window into the team’s thinking when he spoke to Cousins before both sides agreed to a deal. Myers’ words: “You deserve to play playoff basketball.”
Myers did not just say that because Cousins has yet to appear in the postseason in his eight-year NBA career. Myers said that because the Warriors will monitor his recovery to ensure Cousins becomes fully healthy when the playoffs start in mid-April.
Therefore, the Warriors will not fret over the likelihood that Cousins will miss the beginning of training camp or even stay sidelined until the next calendar year. How much time, though, would the Warriors like to integrate Cousins as both a starter with four other All-Stars and a staggered role with the reserves?
“Who knows what time. But certainly we’ll have a few months, if not more, before the playoffs to get him acclimated with what we do and for him to get comfortable,” Myers said. “So the goal is to have as much time as we can without rushing him back. We don’t need to throw him out there.”
Perhaps that might explain why 29 other NBA teams appeared reluctant to acquire Cousins. Only the Warriors have enough talent and continuity to absorb Cousins’ prolonged absence.
“I have to be smart about it. I’m in a unique situation as well where I’m not needed right away,” Cousins said. “Time is kind of on my side so I have a chance to get to 100 percent. When I feel I’m at that point, I’ll make the return.”
For further insight in determining that timetable, the 27-year-old Cousins spoke with various former and current NBA players that also injured their Achilles. Those players included one of the NBA’s best dunkers (former Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins), one of the league’s best scorers (former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant), a former teammate (San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay), a dependable NBA role player (Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Mathews) and a current teammate (Warriors forward Jonas Jerebko).Related Articles
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Each of those players had successes and failures.
After rupturing his right Achilles tendon on Jan. 28, 1992, the 32-year-old Wilkins also averaged 29.9 points on 46.8 percent shooting the next season, a slight increase from the previous year’s output when he averaged 28.1 points on a 46.4 percent clip. Wilkins then played seven more years and made two more All-Star appearances.
After injuring his left Achilles toward the end of the 2012-13 season, the 35-year-old Bryant returned only eight months later. He needed season-ending surgery on his left knee, though, after playing for only six games in the 2013-14 season. Bryant then played 35 games in the 2014-15 campaign before tearing the rotator cuff on his right shoulder. Bryant then retired following the 2015-16 season after averaging 17.6 points on 35.8 percent shooting, his lowest marks since his second NBA season.
After tearing his left Achilles tendon on Jan. 19, 2017, the 31-year-old Gay took a reduced scoring role last season with the San Antonio Spurs (11.9) compared to his career averages (17.8). Yet, he shot a career-high 47.1 percent from the field. After rupturing his left Achilles tendon in the 2014-15 with Portland, Mathews has since posted worse shooting numbers with Dallas in 2015-16 (38.8 percent), 2016-17 (39.3 percent) and 2017-18 (40.6 percent) than his career average through nine NBA seasons (42.7 percent). After missing his entire second NBA season in the 2010-11 season at 23 years old because of a torn right Achilles tendon, Jerebko has since played seven more seasons without any reported issues.
“I wasn’t really looking for a specific answer to get through it. I really just wanted to see what each guy’s mindset was and compared it to my own,” Cousins said. “Some of the positives, I took from it. And some of it I put to the wayside. It’s an injury that can be overcome. I’ll make sure that I prove that.”Related Articles
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Cousins walked around the Warriors’ practice facility on Thursday without any noticeable limp. Showtime, which is producing an upcoming documentary on Cousins, released a clip this week that showed Cousins receiving massage and cold-tub treatment on his left Achilles tendon. Who knows when that means Cousins can begin testing out his Achilles in the weight room and practice court. Medical experts pinpoint the average recovery time to last between eight to 10 months.
“It’s the worst, honestly. Just waking up every day doing the same exact thing, it can drive you crazy,” Cousins said. “But I take it as a test. It’s just another obstacle to overcome and I use that as fuel to get to the next step. Then I continue the process. It’s tough. No lie. But I know where I want to be. I know what I’m capable of. And I look forward to getting back on the floor.”
And once that happens?
“My main goal is to win a championship. That’s what I’m signing up for,” Cousins said. “I bring a toughness. I bring a skillset that they’ve never had before with rebounding, passing and ability to score. I’m bringing a little bit of everything and a couple of [technicals] along the way.”
Cousins spoke in a playful tone about his technical fouls. He spoke seriously, however, about both his championship aspirations and return to dominance. And he did so while appearing at peace with his new circumstances.
“I’m stubborn. I love that about myself,” Cousins said. “I never quit. I’m a fighter. I feel like I can overcome that. I’ll continue with that mindset.”
SANTA CLARA — A year after making training camp more fan-friendly under new coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers will hold 10 public practices this summer. The first practice is set for July 26, a day after all players are scheduled to report.
Online tickets, starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, are available on a first-come, first-serve basis through the team’s website with a $5 charge that goes toward the 49ers Foundation charity wing.
Training camp will be held for the 16th straight summer at the 49ers’ Santa Clara practice fields. None of this year’s practices will be held inside Levi’s Stadium.
Tickets for this year’s camp are available: July 26, 27, 28, 29, 31 and Aug. 1, 2, 6, 7 and 12th.
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