There was plenty of chirping going on after Jimmy Garoppolo threw another interception Friday toward the end of a joint training camp practice with the Denver Broncos.
Safety Justin Simmons held the ball out, pointing it right at Garoppolo, while he waived “goodbye” toward San Francisco’s sideline. Simmons had just picked the 49ers’ signal-caller on an underthrown pass to Marquise Goodwin as pressure from star pass rusher Von Miller forced Garoppolo to throw off his back foot.
It was Garoppolo’s only interception during the first of two joint practices between San Francisco and Denver. He fared much better than the last time he took the practice field Wednesday in Santa Clara, when he tossed interceptions of five consecutive pass attempts, including two on throws into the end zone during a red zone drill.
Being on the wrong end of smack talk doesn’t necessarily bother Garoppolo, who rebounded well in practice Friday by completing his first eight passes to five different 49ers against the Broncos first-string defense.
“I would do the same thing if I threw five TDs on them. It goes back and forth, and I love that,” Garoppolo said when asked about defenders talking trash. “If they weren’t giving me crap about that, I would be a little concerned.”
Garoppolo was on the wrong end of national headlines for his practice Wednesday, but going under the radar was the fact San Francisco’s defense had five straight interceptions after setting an NFL record with just two during the entire season in 2018.
“We’re obviously trying to set records the other way,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said Friday. “Jimmy, I’m sure he would want a couple throws back. ... I know he got a lot of flak for it, but not all of them were his fault, believe it or not.
“Everyone in the building knows what actually happens during a play and I think Jimmy went all camp with only throwing two interceptions, so I think it’s okay to excuse him for one bad day. He’s going to be special, so no one’s skipping a beat in our building.”
Friday’s session marked the first time Garoppolo took snaps against a different team since suffering his ACL tear September against Kansas City.
The interception to Simmons was his most glaring mistake as he unofficially completed 10 of 15 passes on the day during full-team drills, which included an off-target pass to receiver Jordan Matthews and a tight window throw to rookie Deebo Samuel in the end zone that was deflected away by a pair of Broncos defenders.
Garoppolo is expected to make his preseason debut when the two teams square off Monday night in Denver following the two joint practices. Coach Kyle Shanahan has not decided how much Garoppolo will play, though it’s likely to be sparingly before returning to Kansas City next Saturday for the third exhibition game.
“That depends on how the practices go this week. That’s something I’ll probably decide on Sunday,” Shanahan said.
Going against the Broncos gave the 49ers a chance to test themselves against another team’s first-string defense for a prolonged period. The Cowboys played some of their starters for just a few series during the preseason opener last weekend.
“I love these crossover practices that we have,” Garoppolo said. “It’s a change up to training camp, kind of gets you out of the routine and gives you some different looks. The competition always cranks up. It’s fun out there.”
The competition included some fierce reps from Miller and Bradley Chubb, who had 12 sacks as a rookie and was one of Denver’s most vocal players on the practice field, working against 49ers tackles Mike McGlinchey and Joe Staley. Aside from the interception, Denver got to Garoppolo one other time for a would-be sack.
Garoppolo didn’t seem to dwell on his five-interception performance for long. He even channeled his former Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, perhaps unintentionally.
“The defense got me,” he said. “There’s going to be days like that, but you can’t dwell on those things. We’re past that, on to Denver now.”
Mike Person injured
Starting right guard Mike Person was seen after practice Friday on crutches and in a walking boot, though when he suffered his injury is unclear. Person has sporadically missed practice because of an apparent leg injury but has usually found his way back into drills. The team did not have an update on Person’s status after practice.
Person started all 16 games last season despite dealing with a sporadic foot injury. His willingness to play through pain endeared him to his teammates and coaches, which likely factored into getting a three-year contract extension this offseason.
If Person were to miss time, it’s likely Najee Toran would take over as the starting right guard. The 49ers are growing thin along the interior of the offensive line as starting center Weston Richburg remains out while recovering from knee/quadriceps surgery early in the offseason.
Ben Garland, who is likely the team’s top backup along the interior, has been the starting center throughout the offseason and training camp. Joshua Garnett remains out after having surgery on a dislocated finger on his right hand.
49ers sign former Packers second-round pick
San Francisco on Friday signed former Green Bay cornerback Quinten Rollins, a second-round pick from Miami of Ohio in 2015, to a one-year contract. He took over the roster spot from Greg Mabin, who was waived/injured after suffering an apparent leg injury on Wednesday.
Rollins, 27, made an impressive pass breakup late during Friday’s practice – much to the joy of his new teammates. He was wearing Mabin’s No. 30 jersey without a nameplate.
Rollins is healthy after suffering a hamstring injury during the 2018 preseason that led to his release from the Packers on an injury settlement. Rollins has experience at both corner and safety and could be an intriguing 53-man roster candidate given his versatility.
After playing four seasons of basketball in college, Rollins during three seasons with the Packers made 15 starts, logged 16 pass breakups, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a sack.
Kittle remains out with calf injury
The 49ers were without tight end George Kittle for the third practice in a row because of a calf injury the team considers minor. It’s unknown if he will return to practice Saturday and it’s highly unlikely he suits up for the preseason game Monday. Reserve tight end Levin Toilolo was also out with a shoulder injury.
▪ Defensive lineman Ronald Blair III was out again after returning to practice Wednesday following a groin injury.
▪ Safety Jimmie Ward was in full pads and participated in individual drills but did not play in full-team sessions. Tarvarius Moore remained the starting free safety and logged another interception after having two on Wednesday.
▪ Running back Raheem Mostert was in a blue noncontact jersey and didn’t participate in practice as he goes through the league-mandated concussion protocol.