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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Notebook: Trent Williams expects to play vs. Chiefs; Offense making progress, Jimmy G says; Is 49ers training camp too physical? George Kittle responds

Oct 20, 2022 at 8:16 PM--

As usual, there's a lot to talk about after Thursday's 49ers media rounds, and today we're back with the usual roundup.

Left tackle Trent Williams, tight end George Kittle, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and linebacker Fred Warner were among those speaking to reporters on Thursday, along with defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and offensive line coach/run game coordinator Chris Foerster. There were a number of topics of intrigue, including Williams discussing his playing status for Sunday's showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs, Garoppolo's comments on whether or not the offense is coming together, Kittle's response to some training camp criticism coming from former 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt, and much more.

Let's get into it...

Return of Trent?

After being sidelined since suffering a high ankle sprain against the Denver Broncos in Week 3, standout left tackle Trent Williams thinks he'll be back on the field for the 49ers when they face the Chiefs at Levi's Stadium on Sunday afternoon (4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. PT). Nothing's certain yet, but Williams sure sounds optimistic he'll be able to play.

"I expect to. You've got to ask coach though," Williams said Thursday (via David Lombardi of The Athletic).

Williams' return couldn't come at a better time for the 49ers given the quality of opponent they face this week. But regardless of what team was on the schedule, Williams was intent on getting back on the field faster than the 4-6 week timetable he was given after sustaining the injury.

"It doesn't matter who we were playing this week," Williams said. "I was trying to get back."

Rookie Jaylon Moore carried much of the load at left tackle in Williams' absence. Williams gave a thumbs-up to how the second-year lineman performed in recent games.

"He's made such big strides from last year to this year," Williams said. "He's a good talent, man. He's young, but he's always willing to learn."

Offense making strides?

The 49ers' offense (or lack thereof) has been a hot topic of conversation this week among fans online as well as across the radio airwaves. Last week's 28-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons saw the 49ers held scoreless in the second half and marked the third time this season the team failed to score more than 14 points.

The offense will have their work cut out for them this week as they attempt to keep up with the Chiefs. Garoppolo, who earlier this season said there was work to do when it came to him getting on the same page with the rest of the offense, told reporters Thursday he thinks things are getting closer to where they need to be.

"Yeah. Oh yeah," Garoppolo said. "I think you see it at practice too. I mean, there's just certain plays where there's a trust factor. I think that plays a big part in any offense, just between the quarterback and the skill guys, there's a trust factor that, it's not just given either. You got to earn that stuff, you got to earn it in here, in the locker room out on the field, away from the facility, whatever you do. I think there's a trust factor that we're moving in the right direction. We just need to make that happen quicker rather than later."

Williams offered his take on the offense Thursday as well, saying the season is still young and the unit needed time to come together.

"I think we shot ourselves in the foot maybe one too many times," Williams said. "The scoreboard doesn't really reflect the talent that we have. It's early -- that's one of the things that every team deals with... It takes time to kind of knock the rust off from the offseason and get flying on all cylinders.

Epic clash for National Tight Ends Day

This Sunday's 49ers-Chiefs game falls on National Tight Ends Day, which couldn't be more fitting for a number of reasons.

First, it's the 49ers (in particular Garoppolo and Kittle) who were the inventors of National Tight Ends Day. In addition, this week's game features two of the NFL's premier tight ends in Kittle and Travis Kelce of the Chiefs.

On top of that, former NFL tight end Greg Olsen will be part of the announcing team on Sunday. Olsen, Kittle and Kelce are behind the successful "Tight End University" program that attracts tight ends from across the NFL during the offseason.

"It's like it was planned or something," Kittle said. "Crazy."

Kittle and Kelce are friends off the field but will be out to get the better of each other on Sunday.

"I definitely have a lot respect for Kelce," Kittle said Thursday. "He's fantastic. Watching his tape -- wonderful. It's awesome being friends with him too. But hey, it's going to be a violent, physical game out there, and I know we're both looking forward to that one. Hopefully he doesn't have his greatest game against us. I'm going to try to have mine."

Kittle responds to Jaquiski Tartt's training camp criticism

Do the 49ers go too hard during training camp, and is it contributing to their ongoing injury issues? Former 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt seems to think so, but Kittle disagrees.

Tartt suggested as much during an appearance on a podcast Wednesday, stating that he came away from his brief time with the Philadelphia Eagles this year feeling they had a better, healthier training camp program than the 49ers. Kittle was asked about Tartt's comments Thursday and responded by saying he's happy with what the 49ers do, even though he doesn't have any other NFL experiences to compare it with.

"I think our training staff and performance staff does a really good job of planning the schedule -- our camp schedule with Kyle (Shanahan)," Kittle said. "We do three days on, one day off. There's a lot of teams out there that still do six days on, they do five days on. I think that's not great. I know teams do 100 play scripts. We do like 40 at our highest days. I think we only had one soft tissue injury this entire year in training camp so that's pretty good. I thought we made it through camp pretty well -- injury-free. Obviously (you look at) our injury report now and there's a ton of them. A lot of them are contact stuff. We have a couple non-contact, but most of them are low hits, knees -- just football plays. I think I really like the way we run training camp. I think it's a really good job. But again, I've never been anywhere else for training camp, so I wouldn't really know."

Tartt would have agreed with Kittle before this year, but his time with the Eagles changed his mind.

"I don't know what they did this past camp, but if we're going based off when I was there, I honestly thought he [Kyle Shanahan] was saving our bodies," Tartt said, per Niners Nation. "But, just being with the Eagles, the short time I was with them, it ain't even close."

Taking it back

Aside from his revelation that he and his wife had their first date while the 49ers played the Ravens in the Super Bowl, there was one more note of interest from Kittle on Thursday. Kittle caught some attention after the loss to the Falcons by suggesting there may have been some 49ers players who weren't meeting the level of energy or effort that is typically expected. He took those words back Thursday, saying he changed his mind after going through game film.

"I think I said that without watching the film," Kittle said. "After watching it, I thought offensively, I think guys were busting their ass, excuse my language. We had a lot of effort out there. Guys were trying."

Inside info

The 49ers have certainly been tapping the brain of cornerback Charvarius Ward this week, given the fact he spent the first four years of his NFL career in Kansas City before heading to the Bay Area over the offseason. Time will tell if Ward's advice makes a difference on Sunday, but he's been giving tips to players on both sides of the ball.

"We were talking literally throughout this whole week, just little simple things, coverage talk, whatever," Garoppolo said. "But yeah, he's been awesome with that. He's a really smart dude."

Ward has been battling a groin injury, but there's no doubt he'll be itching to play if he gets the green light.

"I know he's really excited for the matchup," Warner said. "Obviously facing your former team, you've got a little extra incentive. But yeah, we'll keep the tips and tricks on the low."

Offensive line set, unless...

Assuming Williams and right tackle Mike McGlinchey (calf) are back in the lineup on Sunday, the 49ers will have their starting offensive line intact for the first time in weeks. But will the lineup stay that way?

It will at tackle as long as Williams and McGlinchey are healthy and perhaps at left guard with Aaron Banks, but other spots could still see some competition, according to offensive line coach/run game coordinator Chris Foerster.

"I don't think anybody can rest," Foerster said. "We still have some good, talented players in behind them when Colton [McKivitz] comes back and then you do have Jaylon [Moore] there and obviously Dan [Brunskill] does a really good job. They're all there and ready to go. And if at any time a guy starts to slip up or struggle a little bit, there's always the opportunity. We don't have many guys, but probably the left tackle, I think Aaron Banks is starting to put himself in that position where he's got a position as has Mike. But I think the other guys have to keep, I don't want to say look over their shoulder, but you have to stay on point because there are other players that can play and there's nothing wrong with that. If you're having struggles or maybe you're banged up and hurt and we need to play another guy a little bit more or whatever it is, at least we have other guys that can get in there and play."

As of now, however, each starter has earned the right to continue to be in their current role.

"All five that are in as the starters are starters because they're doing well enough to be the starters," Foerster said. "We're not gifting a position right now to anybody, but they need to keep grinding and keep working."


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