San Francisco 49ers

49ers practice report 7: Reuben Foster nicked, Ahkello Witherspoon bounces back

Reuben Foster takes on Carlos Hyde in 49ers practice

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster comes up big defending against running back Carlos Hyde during a one-on-one coverage drill in 49ers training camp.
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Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster comes up big defending against running back Carlos Hyde during a one-on-one coverage drill in 49ers training camp.

Uh oh. A hush fell over 49ers practice Friday when Reuben Foster went down clutching his left ankle. Trainers ran onto the field and practice was halted while the crew examined the ankle. But 30 second later, the team’s first-round pick was on his feet and he ended up missing only one snap before he was back on the field.

With Brock Coyle (ribs) and Donavin Newsom (neck) out of practice, Foster had another busy session. The day included yet another interception during one-on-one drills when he stepped in front of Carlos Hyde to grab a throw from rookie quarterback Nick Mullens. (Mullens has been frequently victimized by Foster in training camp).

During team drills, Foster also was very active while playing “Mike” linebacker next to Ray-Ray Armstrong at “Will” linebacker with the second-team defense. In one sequence, rookie running back Matt Breida hauled in a pass in stride and started to make his way downfield. But he was immediately popped by cornerback Prince Charles Iworah, who sent the ball into the air and into Foster’s arms. Foster seemed to be a little slower after the ankle injury but it certainly does not seem as if it will keep him out long if at all.

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There were some nice defensive plays by the team’s cornerbacks. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon, who has been the Charlie Brown of the last two practices, got a chance to flex his own muscles during a move-the-ball session when he knocked the ball away from Pierre Garcon on a pass from Brian Hoyer. (The first-team offense was taking on the second-team defense at the time). On the next play, Hoyer was looking for Marquise Goodwin over the middle, but couldn’t pull the trigger due to close coverage from Witherspoon. Safety Chanceller James ended up “sacking” Hoyer on the play.

Earlier in the session, Dontae Johnson broke up a deep sideline throw from Hoyer to rookie Trent Taylor. … Later, Rashard Robinson knocked away a deep pass from rookie C.J. Beathard to Aldrick Robinson in the corner of the end zone. The deflection nearly was intercepted by Vinnie Sunseri, who was trailing the play. The sequence may have been familiar – cough, cough – to Malcolm Smith. … Nickel cornerback K’waun Williams had an interception against Matt Barkley.

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Hoyer, however, wasn’t shut out. One of the prettier throws of training camp was one in which Hoyer lofted a timing route pass over the linebacker corps and into Taylor’s arms just before he went out of bounds. Hoyer has been very impressive so far in camp in showing a nice blend of arm strength and – something that’s been scarce in recent years here – touch.

Beathard had his own impressive pass, one that floated over Foster’s outstretched hand into those of tight end Cole Hikutini, who is taking advantage of increased repetitions with George Kittle (hamstring) out.

Rookie running back Joe Williams had a strong run when the second-team defense was going in one direction and he broke back the other way and used his speed to break free downfield. Williams had a slow start to camp and early on did not look as good as the team’s other rookie, Matt Breida. Shanahan, however, said Thursday’s session was Williams’ top practice of camp and that Friday’s was even better than that.

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Solomon Thomas also seems to be more prominent the deeper we get into training camp. He’s played an array of positions so far, and on Friday had a quarterback sack against Joe Staley, which is no small feat.

With both Ahmad Brooks (veterans day), Eli Harold (concussion) and Jimmie Gilbert (ACL) out of action, the 49ers are short on SAM linebackers. Dekoda Watson lined up there with the first-team defense with sixth-round pick Pita Taumoepenu getting worked in as well. Taumoepenu mostly has been a “Leo” rusher to this point.

Malcolm Smith had another strong practice at “Will” linebacker while Arik Armstead continues to look good as an outside pass rusher. … Aaron Lynch was excused from practice after his wife gave birth to their second child last night. ... The Jets claimed receiver Bruce Ellington off of waivers. John Morton, who was the 49ers’ receivers coach when Ellington was drafted, is now running New York’s offense.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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