John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Seven 49ers player updates from the start of OTAs

May 24, 2017 at 11:06 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers have completed two of their 10 allowed organized team activities (OTAs) practices. The players will not practice on Wednesday. Instead, they will spend the day participating in stretching with head strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright and then watching film with the coaching staff. Players will return to the practice fields on Thursday.

What have we learned about the 49ers players during the first two days of practices, which kicked off on Monday?

Reuben Foster

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster is recovering from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder following Alabama's 2016 season and has not participated in any on-field action that requires contact. That will likely continue until at least training camp at the end of July.

"We've allowed him to participate in anything where there's no possibility of contact," Shanahan said on Tuesday. "So if he's doing any of the individual drills and not going against people, then he's able to do everything because he can run and do it all. We got to be able to avoid collisions right now. He's trying to stay locked in. I know it's hard for him. He wants to run around out there but he can't do it. We got to be smart with it. We can't set him back."

NaVorro Bowman

Linebacker Bowman is also recovering from injury. He suffered a torn Achilles in a game against the Dallas Cowboys in October but has been a full participant in offseason practices.

"From what I've seen just watching him, I would have never known that [he was coming off the injury] just by watching him," Shanahan said. "He looks like the guy I've seen on tape over the years."

This week, Bowman has been competing for snaps with rookie Reuben Foster and free agency acquisition Malcolm Smith. The three are competing for two starting inside linebacker spots.

"When you ask me about how is it going to play out, I'm not sure and it's a good problem to have," Shanahan said. "It's something that you would actually like to have at every position. There's going to be, in my opinion, there's going to be a very good player that's not out there all the time and that's not a bad thing. That makes the two guys that are out there go a lot harder and play better."

Bowman does not figure to be the odd man out at inside linebacker. Reporters asked Bowman what he thought about the competition at inside linebacker. "I won't be on the sideline," he responded. "I can tell you that."

"I'll compete with anyone, whether he's 21 or 35," Bowman continued. "It doesn't matter. I'm a guy who's going to give my best effort and have full confidence in my abilities to play this game. I know how much I study this game."

Aaron Lynch

Edge defender Aaron Lynch reportedly showed up overweight. He admittedly reached the 300-pound mark last year when his listed playing weight is 270. He knows that, with a new coaching regime, he has been given a fresh start and has to make the most of it.

"I don't think my mind was in the right place," Lynch told reporters on Tuesday.

"I'm working my *** off right now, getting down to the (weight) I need to get to, doing everything they want me to do," Lynch explained.

What is that weight goal? According to Lynch, it is somewhere between 260 and 270 pounds. He says that he is in the 280-pound range right now.

"There's no doubt Aaron's going in the right direction for us," Shanahan said. "He came in in the offseason, we challenged him hard with just the way we worked and stuff. He hasn't shied away from any of it. He's jumped in on all of our stuff. I believe he only missed one day of the offseason workouts. He had an issue with his wife, which he had to take care of. So, he's gotten better each day. He's gotten more in shape each day and I'm seeing it on the field each day."

Matt Barkley

Quarterback Matt Barkley has been taking all of the reps in practice this week with the twos. However, that does not mean that rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard won't have an opportunity to wrestle away the job of backing up presumptive starter Brian Hoyer.

"There's a chance for everybody. Nobody is locked in at anything," Shanahan said. "[Barkley] took all the two reps today and yesterday and we didn't balance them out. I'd be surprised if that stayed that way all the way through up to the season. But, yeah, no one's locked in for anything. We're going to always play the best guy."

Jimmie Ward

Jimmie Ward is converting back from cornerback to safety, which is the position he grew used to in college. He entered the offseason as the team's highest-graded defensive back, according to Pro Football Focus. Ward also finished the 2015 season as the 49ers' highest-graded defensive back.

The 49ers are transitioning to a single-high safety scheme and Ward is expected to fill that role. He is entering his fourth season with the 49ers and has accumulated 110 tackles, two sacks, 20 passes defended, and two interceptions over his three seasons. The new coaching staff was impressed enough with Ward that the team picked up his fifth-year option earlier this month. That will keep Ward under contract through the 2018 season.

Shanahan was asked how Ward's transition back to safety is going. "I think safeties, running backs, you never totally know until they're hitting," he answered. "Running backs are having to run through arm tackles. Safeties are having to finish it and take them to the ground. So, you never truly know until the full pads come on and you're actually in a preseason game because we'll never fully tackle here. We'll find that out in games. But, Jimmie, from what I've seen of his college tape and how he's played nickel, how he's played corner, he's not a guy I'm too worried about tackling. So, I'm looking forward to it."

Joshua Garnett

Joshua Garnett, the second of two first-round selections last year, is being worked in at both guard spots as the coaching staff tries to find the position best suited for him.

"I know he played at right guard last year," Shanahan said on Tuesday. "I know he played at left guard throughout college. We worked him at both yesterday. A little bit more right guard than left. Today, I want to say we worked him at both. I think it was definitely more left guard today than right guard. But, it's something we want him to workout at both and hopefully we'll put him in a spot that's the best for him and hopefully, it will be the best for the team."

Garnett, who was a rookie at the time, was the team's second-worst graded starting offensive lineman in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. The worst-graded starting offensive lineman was Zane Beadles.

Trent Taylor

Despite his 5-foot-8 height, fifth-round selection Trent Taylor has been impressing on the practice field. The small receiver has displayed a lot of speed and athleticism but will likely require good ball placement because of his smaller catching radius.

"Trent's a guy who is very good at separating," Shanahan said. "He's very quick. He's a very tough player. His feet are usually under him. So, he always can make a couple moves in a short area which is a quality that a lot of people look for in a slot receiver. And he also has the toughness and awareness to, as you said, sit down in zones and know when he doesn't have to do all these moves because no one's looking at him, they're looking at the quarterback and then when he catches the ball, he's not scared. He gets up the field. He fights for yards. He's got those qualities you look for in the type of player who keeps you on the field, which is usually third down."

Toughness is a trait that Shanahan looks for in his players. He has used the word "tough" to describe two of his quarterbacks – Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard.

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