Richard Sherman: ‘I hope they keep writing us off’
It’s not often you pull off a freeway and see an NFL team gearing up for a practice on a soccer field in plain view. But that’s exactly what’s happening this week at Youngstown State University with the 49ers.
Kyle Shanahan’s team, of course, is practicing in northeast Ohio following a Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to save a pair of cross-country flights ahead of Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. It helps to get used to the Eastern time zone. The game is a 1 p.m. start locally (10 a.m. on the West Coast) after starting at 4:25 p.m. in Tampa Bay.
“Everything is perfect,” Shanahan said after Wednesday’s practice. “We just need a football field, even though we were on a soccer field.”
It was a much different atmosphere than the 49ers are used to. Their facility in Santa Clara is surrounded by tall fences lined with a thick green barrier that makes it impossible to see in. It’s designed to keep out unwelcome onlookers who might be daring enough to spy and give information to upcoming opponents.
Sound far-fetched? Shanahan, who’s been coaching in the NFL since 2004, doesn’t think so.
“I’ve done it long enough to realize you should have some paranoia,” he said. “Not everyone’s like that, but some people are and you can never be too safe.”
In Youngstown, anyone parking next to the field could see the team practice. As could students walking to class or back to their dorms. The 49ers commissioned local police to stop traffic to allow players to cross the street from the locker rooms. Police cars lined the roads on all sides of the field and team security was roaming the nearby areas to ensure nothing shady was afoot.
Shanahan indicated he’s been with teams that have thought spies were trying to watch practice in the past.
“We didn’t arrest them or interrogate them,” he said. “There’s lots of rumors that I’ve heard over the years. ‘If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,’ so you better be careful with that. Especially in (the opponent’s) home state.”
The 49ers practiced on the Farmers National Bank soccer field, also used for track and intramural sports, which had one makeshift goal post on the eastern end zone brought in on a trailer with newly painted markings for hash marks, yard lines and the sideline. The football lines were quickly cleared away after practice was over.
The field is a few hundred yards away from DeBartolo Hall, a classroom building that houses the liberal arts and social science departments. The building, of course, was named after the DeBartolo family of the 49ers’ CEO Jed York, who grew up in the area.
Away from practice, the team is staying in Poland, Ohio, roughly 10 minutes south of the practice field, in a hotel rented all to themselves. A restaurant on the bottom floor has been cleared out and used as a dining hall and team meeting room.
The Yorks hosted a team dinner at a local country club Tuesday (quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo complimented the catering) after many players participated in local charity events. Others, such as kicker Robbie Gould and right tackle Mike McGlinchey, got in a round of golf at the prestigious Oakmont Country Club, which has hosted more U.S. Opens than any course in the country.
Shanahan likes the setup because everything is central and he doesn’t have to worry about commuting, like he does in the South Bay.
“It’s nice because we’re always there (at the hotel),” Shanahan said. “We don’t have to leave to go home or anything. It’s pretty tight, it reminds me of old-school training camp. But I think it’s always good when you can get the team in a hotel, just hang around each other a little bit more.”
The 49ers practiced inside Youngstown State’s Stambaugh Stadium the last time they were here in 2011 between road games against the Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles. There were scheduling issues that prevented the 49ers from practicing their this time.
Onlookers can’t see the field from outside the stadium, unlike the soccer field.
Bosa injury update
Rookie pass rusher Nick Bosa didn’t practice Wednesday to rest his sore right ankle after playing 38 of 69 snaps (55 percent) in the win over Tampa Bay.
Shanahan said Bosa was dealing with continued soreness. The team will monitor his pain this week before making a determination about playing against the Bengals.
“High ankle sprains linger for a long time,” Shanahan said. “When you do get in games, usually you do stuff again and hopefully you can recover by Sunday.”
Bosa said he came out of the victory over the Buccaneers sore but he has seemed optimistic about his ability to bounce back.
“(An) ankle sprain’s something you kind of have to work through a little bit of pain in the beginning,” Bosa said Sunday. “I’m pretty happy that I got through the whole game and started to pick it up at the end.”
Ward returns with heavy wrap
Free safety Jimmie Ward was back on the practice field with his right hand heavily wrapped following surgery last week to repair a broken finger. Ward has a chance at playing Sunday after missing the Buccaneers game out of fear of sweat causing an infection surrounding the wound from the procedure.
“That’s what we were testing today,” Shanahan said. “Obviously he had no contact today. It’s more about pain tolerance. I know Jimmie can deal with as much pain as anyone. If it’s too much, that means it’s way too much. So, we’ll see how that goes throughout the week.”
Tarvarius Moore replaced Ward at free safety after playing there throughout training camp. Moore finished second on the team with eight interceptions and had a near pick-six on a fourth down play near the goal line that he dropped.
▪ Left tackle Joe Staley was given his typical Wednesday off from practice.
▪ Bengals running back Joe Mixon is considered day-to-day after an MRI revealed no significant structural damage in his sprained ankle, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. There’s a chance he could play Sunday after leaving the Week 1 loss to the Seattle Seahawks early in the second half. Mixon had six carries for 10 yards.
▪ Bengals receiver A.J. Green is no longer in a walking boot following his ankle injury sustained on the first day of training camp. He resumed running this week, but there’s no timetable on his eventual return, according to an ESPN report, making it unlikely he returns in time for Sunday’s game.
▪ Cornerback Dontae Johnson, who was released by the 49ers during final cuts, signed Wednesday with the Los Angeles Chargers, according to an NFL Network Report.