Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner has gone from third string to first string in training camp, and fellow 49ers first-round pick Joshua Garnett soon may follow the same path.
Garnett began camp on the third-string offensive line, lining up at right guard next to tackle Anthony Davis. In recent practices, however, that duo mostly has worked with the second-team offensive line, and it’s not far-fetched to think the two could start in Week 1.
Garnett was the first guard selected in the April draft, 28th overall. The first-string offensive line so far in camp has included right tackle Trent Brown and right guard Andrew Tiller.
Buckner, meanwhile, went through all of the spring practices as a third-string defensive lineman.
Recently, he has been lining up alongside Quinton Dial and Arik Armstead with the would-be starters. The average height of that defensive line: 6-foot-6 1/2.
“We didn’t give him anything,” defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said of Buckner, drafted seventh overall. “He had to earn it. So, he earned our respect. He earned the players’ respect. I think all of our guys know, we don’t care where you were drafted. You’re going to have to earn it. Nothing is going to be given to you, and he’s done a nice job.”
Tartt’s back – The 49ers removed safety Jaquiski Tartt (leg) from the non-football injury list, and he participated in his first practice of the summer.
Tartt, a second-round pick last year, lined up as a third safety – along with Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea – in one of the team’s defensive packages. The 49ers plan to use Reid as a nickel back at times, especially when an opponent uses a tight end in the slot.
“He’s a guy that’s a part of our plans,” O’Neil said of Tartt. “I’m excited to get him out there and get it rolling, because we haven’t really been able to utilize some of those packages because he hasn’t practiced. And then when he’s back, that allows us to do some things with Eric and allows us to do some new things pressure-wise.”
Et cetera – After going through the last three practices in pads, the 49ers were back in shorts on Saturday and had a decidedly light session. It lasted 70 minutes, about a half-hour shorter than the team’s normal practices.
▪ Torrey Smith returned to practice after sitting out Friday’s session. The team’s first-string receivers consistently have been Smith on the right side, Quinton Patton on the left and Bruce Ellington at the slot position.
▪ Earlier in the week, coach Chip Kelly spent the warmup portion of practice chatting with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. On Saturday, he had a long talk with country music singer Kenny Chesney, who was scheduled to perform at Levi’s Stadium that evening.