For the second time this week, general manager Trent Baalke has sent a tight end to the East Coast.
On Friday, it was backup Derek Carrier, who was traded to tight end-starved Washington for a fifth-round pick in 2017. Carrier, 25, only had a few snaps last season, but he made the most of them, catching nine passes for 105 yards. The deal is conditional and based on Carrier’s playing time and productivity this season.
In March, the 49ers signed Carrier to a modest, two-year contract extension through the 2017 season. At the time, Carrier, who played wide receiver in college, was viewed as a possible replacement for Vernon Davis in terms of his ability to make plays deep downfield. Davis is only signed through this season.
Earlier in the week, Baalke traded Asante Cleveland (Christian Brothers) to New England for offensive lineman Jordan Devey, who lined up at left guard this week for San Francisco. Davis, Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Blake Bell, Xavier Grimble and Busta Anderson are the tight ends who remain on the 49ers’ roster. Both Carrier and Cleveland were undrafted.
Washington, meanwhile, recently lost two starting-caliber tight ends, Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul, for the season.
A 2017 draft pick likely was preferable to Baalke. He already has nine picks in the upcoming draft with three more compensatory selections expected. Earlier this year, he traded punter Andy Lee to the Browns for a seventh-round pick that also is in 2017.
Grass-fed beef – The Cowboys will inspect the much maligned field at Levi’s Stadium as soon as they arrive in town, coach Jason Garrett told reporters this week.
“We’re going to play a game on Sunday afternoon, so we’ve got to figure it out,” Garrett said. “Hopefully, they’ve taken care of their end of it.”
Asked if those types of walk-throughs are common in the preseason, Garrett said, “Just thought it was a good idea to go over there.”
The grass at Levi’s has been an issue since last summer when then-coach Jim Harbaugh had to halt a practice because chunks of the field were coming up. The 49ers felt they had fixed the issue with a new mixture of sand and soil beneath the sod.
But the field came apart again early in training camp. The team had planned to hold eight days of practice on the field to start training camp. They managed only two in a row before moving to their usual practice field and had to cancel a public session planned for Levi’s.
The Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reported that quarterback Tony Romo will play sparingly, if at all, due to injuries along Dallas’ offensive line as well as concerns about the playing surface.
Safety Eric Reid, the 49ers’ union representative, said teammates voiced some concerns last year but that he was confident in the team’s grounds crews.
“We talked about it. There were some games where we thought the field was kind of shaky,” Reid said. “But, like I said, those guys got out there and they got it fixed. If there’s ever a concern with the field or with anything, we have the type of organization where the players just have to say something and our guys will handle it.”
Garrett’s message to his players: Learn to adapt to the setting.
“Make sure your cleats are right,” he said. “Our equipment guys do a fantastic job. Players get out there early, make sure you’ve got the right gear on so you can go be your best. I’m confident that the league will make sure that field is safe for everybody to play or we won’t play the game.”
Et cetera – Outside linebacker Eli Harold returned to practice after sitting out Thursday’s session. So did left tackle Joe Staley.
▪ Defensive end Glenn Dorsey, wide receiver Bruce Ellington and linebackers Michael Wilhoite and Philip Wheeler did not practice this week and are unlikely to play against the Cowboys.
▪ Coach Jim Tomsula said he has not decided whether NaVorro Bowman, who was held out of last week’s preseason opener, will play Sunday.