Joe Staley’s scouting report on newcomer guard Laken Tomlinson: Quick feet. Eager to learn. Wide bodied.
“He kind of reminds me a little bit of Mike by the way he’s built,” Staley said in front of his locker on Thursday.
That’s Mike as in Mike Iupati, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who spent five seasons lining up next to Staley at left guard. Whether Tomlinson assumes a starting spot next to Staley this week depends on how quickly he can pick up San Francisco’s zone-blocking schemes.
The 49ers acquired Tomlinson, 25, in a trade with the Detroit Lions on Aug. 31. He’s a former first-round pick who’s started 24 games in the last two years. But including his college years at Duke and his time with the Lions he’s never done the type of blocking called for in the 49ers system.
“The scheme is a lot to learn,” Tomlinson acknowledged. “But I think I can handle it. And I’m going out there and trying my best to exhibit that on the practice field.”
Tomlinson was inactive for Sunday’s game against the Panthers. But he’s been worked into the practice rotation more this week than last, and Kyle Shanahan has said Tomlinson has a chance to start at either guard spot.
Tomlinson played both with the Lions and said he’s been practicing at the right and left at various points in practice. Left guard, however, seems to be where the 49ers want him to play.
They began the offseason thinking that Jeremy Zuttah had a chance to start there. When that failed to materialize, 2016 first-round pick Joshua Garnett moved into the spot. Garnett, however, suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for the year, which meant that last year’s starter at left guard, Zane Beadles, retained his starting position.
Asked how long it would take a late arrival like Tomlinson to pick up the blocking technique, Staley noted that he’s been here since the offseason and hasn’t mastered it.
“I’m not sitting here and saying, ‘I’ve got it,’ ” he said. “It’s a very detail-oriented kind of thing and you’re always working on it.”
But what gives Tomlinson a chance, Staley said, is his willingness to figure it out.
“He’s come in very eager to learn and to pick up all that stuff,” Staley said. “He’s not overwhelmed by anything. Coming from another team, he had excuses he could make – ‘Oh, I wasn’t here in training camp.’ He’s come here and is gung ho about picking up everything that he can.”
Et cetera – The Carolina Panthers claimed tackle John Theus off of waivers Thursday. The 49ers made room for new linebacker Elijah Lee by waiving Theus a day earlier.
▪ Safety Jimmie Ward was more active in Thursday’s practice and went through the session without the plastic sleeve he’d been wearing on his left hamstring. Ward, however, was listed as limited and is a question mark for Sunday’s game in Seattle.
▪ Tight end George Kittle (calf, hamstring) fully participated in practice after being limited Wednesday. For the Seahawks, cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring) did not practice for a second straight day.