The 49ers had their first “live” tackling session of the offseason on Friday, a first-and-goal drill that mostly incorporated running plays.
When the second-team offense was on the field, running backs Jewel Hampton and Alfonso Smith got the carries. When the first teamers got their chance, the tailback was Carlos Hyde. None of them scored; the 49ers defense won the session overall.
Frank Gore, of course, is the team’s top runner. But the 49ers aren’t going to risk a tangle-in-the-pile type of injury on Aug. 1. The sequence suggested what everyone assumed when Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James went down with injuries: Hyde is now the top backup, and there’s a good chance he starts Thursday’s preseason opener.
That was supported by the release of the team’s depth chart in advance of the game against the Ravens. Keep in mind that the public relations staff, not the coaches, compile this chart. But it mostly lines up with what we’ve been seing at practice. A * denotes player who is injured or not expected to play Thursday.
WR: Anquan Boldin, Stevie Johnson, Devon Wylie, Chuck Jacobs, Bruce Ellington
LT: Joe Staley, Carter Bykowski
LG: Mike Iupati, Al Netter
C: Daniel Kilgore, Marcus Martin, Dillon Farrell
RG: Joe Looney, Adam Snyder, Michael Philipp
RT: *Anthony Davis, Jonathan Martin, Ryan Seymour
TE: Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Derek Carrier, Asante Cleveland, Kevin Greene
WR: *Michael Crabtree, *Brandon Lloyd, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin, Kassim Osgood, David Reed
FB: Bruce Miller, Will Tukuafu
RB: *Frank Gore, Carlos Hyde, Jewel Hampton, Alfonso Smith, *LaMichael James, *Kendall Hunter
QB: Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, Josh Johnson, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
LDE: *Ray McDonald, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Tank Carradine
NT: *Glenn Dorsey, Quinton Dial, Mike Purcell
RDE: *Justin Smith, Demarcus Dobbs, Lawrence Okoye
LOLB: Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier, Chase Thomas
JILB: Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody, Blake Costanzo
MILB: Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Shayne Skov
ROLB: Aldon Smith, Dan Skuta, Aaron Lynch
LCB: Tramaine Brock, Chris Cook, Darryl Morris
RCB: Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, Dontae Johnson, Kenneth Acker
FS: Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward, C.J. Spillman, James McCray
SS: Antoine Bethea, Craig Dahl, Bubba Ventrone, D.J. Campbell
P: Andy Lee, Colton Schmidt
K: Phil Dawson, Colton Schmidt
PR: Perrish Cox, Bruce Ellington
KR: Perrish Cox, Carlos Hyde
LS: Kevin McDermott, Kyle Nelson
My comments: I think Wylie and Ellington probably will get the first shot at punt returns ... Dial hasn’t played much NT to this point, but likely will depending on the severity of Dorsey’s injury. ... I saw Skov playing more “Jack” linebacker.