The San Francisco 49ers had their ninth day of training camp practices Sunday. Here's what stood out as the Niners prepare for their opening preseason contest this upcoming Thursday.


After a much-needed day off following a couple of sloppy training camp practices last week, the San Francisco 49ers kicked off day nine of training camp sessions on Sunday.

Injuries had been a bit of a factor leading up to practice. Cornerback Richard Sherman, who tweaked his hamstring last Friday, was out. Rookie linebacker Fred Warner is still nursing a chest injury, and fellow linebacker Brock Coyle is expected to return next week after dealing with a hip injury.

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Offensive guard Joshua Garnett (knee) remained out too, although reports state he won't need surgery. Still, his tenure on the roster is more in doubt now than at any point over his pro career.

Quarterback


After attending his grandfather's induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame late Saturday, quarterback C.J. Beathard, grandson of Bobby Beathard, somehow managed to make his way back to the 49ers' facility in time for Sunday's practice. It shocked head coach Kyle Shanahan, who likely expected the second-year quarterback wouldn't be back until Tuesday at the latest. Beathard tossed an early interception, though, on a deflected pass picked off by undrafted rookie Tarvarus McFadden.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo ended practice with a 45-yard touchdown to second-year wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.

Deep passing has been one of Garoppolo's focal points in training camp so far, and it's good to see those efforts translating into some practice production.

Running Back


While Jerick McKinnon all but has the No. 1 running back position locked up, the Nos. 2 and 3 positions have gotten pretty heated. It'll come down to a battle between runners Matt Breida and Joe Williams -- both of who have flashed in training camp so far. Williams, who was redshirted his rookie season a year ago, could still be playing second fiddle to Breida, who ranked third on the 49ers in all-purpose yards last year (645).

Williams could have recognized this, understanding that contributing on special teams will be vital to him making the 53-man roster cut.

He took advantage of one play, according to Fourth and Nine's Dylan DeSimone:


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Bourne was one of the bigger receiving standouts from Sunday's action, hauling in that deep touchdown pass from Garoppolo and making a number of other key grabs in both one-on-one and team sessions.

Garoppolo's chemistry has been budding with a number of receivers, Bourne and rookie wideout Dante Pettis included. Yet there hasn't been a lot of development with the 49ers' presumed No. 1 receiver, Pierre Garçon.

Shanahan doesn't seem too concerned, though, as he told reporters such after practice.

"I don't worry too much about Pierre," the head coach said of Garçon, via 49ers.com's Joe Fann. "He looks the same as he did last year. ... We know who Pierre is and what he brings to the table and what he'll bring on Sundays."

Garçon hit 500 receiving yards exactly before suffering a season-ending neck injury in Week 8 last season. While Pettis might not push Garçon out of a starting job right away, it wouldn't be a shock if that was the long-term plan for San Francisco.

Defensive Line


Well, this is pretty cool:


That's been the mantra of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh's defense. Not too shabby.

Linebacker


DeSimone also pointed out something of interest from camp. Linebaker Reuben Foster actually motioned out off to the edge and rushed the passer before the snap. Interior blitzing wasn't something San Francisco linebackers did much of last year, so it's a bit provocative to see Foster in more of a pass-rushing role.

He'll have chances to do so, as one would expect him to play at the weak-side (WILL) linebacker when he returns from suspension in Week 3.

Secondary


Perhaps the biggest standout unit for San Francisco on day nine was its defensive backs. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who has had a fairly rough training camp so far, had a number of nice plays and pass breakups, including the one below against Garçon:


Additionally, there was McFadden's interception off Beathard -- the rookie corner's second of training camp so far. The 49ers cornerback depth chart is pretty crowded, although McFadden looks to be in pretty good shape to crack the back end.

Especially considering there's some injury concerns towards the top. According to Shanahan (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco), Sherman suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain and is expected to be out for at least the Niners' preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. Additionally, nickel cornerback K'Waun Williams rolled his ankle in practice and the severity of the injury is not yet known.


With the versatile Jimmie Ward (hamstring) out, the 49ers were forced to give rookie nickel back D.J. Reed some extra looks in Williams' stead.

That might be the formula San Francisco has to roll with versus Dallas, and there's little reason to rush players like Sherman back into the fray prematurely.

This and That


Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stayed after practice again -- a trend he's been following for nearly all of training camp. This time he worked with the tight end group.

"That whole group, we stayed after practice," Garoppolo told reporters. "Whether it be going over the finer details that will make a difference on Sunday."

The 49ers signed offensive guard Chris Gonzales and waived defensive back Corey Griffin in advance of Sunday's practice. And in a true "welcome to the squad" move, the Niners asked Gonzales to pump up the crowd with the regular performance of the "Rookie Hype Machine."

Safe to say Gonzales did a pretty good job (h/t Jennifer Lee Chan of Niners Nation):


The 49ers have two more practices this week before a walk-through on Wednesday, followed by Week 1 of the preseason at home against the Cowboys Thursday.

Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @PeterPanacy on Twitter.