San Francisco 49ers

49ers’ improved passing game soon to get another weapon

Video: 49ers host Baltimore Ravens

Game action photos as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens during first half action at Levi's Stadium. Video by Manny Crisostomo, mcrisostomo@sacbee.com, and game photos by Jose Luis Villegas, jvillegas@sacbee.com.
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Game action photos as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens during first half action at Levi's Stadium. Video by Manny Crisostomo, mcrisostomo@sacbee.com, and game photos by Jose Luis Villegas, jvillegas@sacbee.com.

A 49ers offense that discovered its downfield passing game for the first time this season Sunday now is eligible to add another weapon, wide receiver Jerome Simpson, to the mix.

The 49ers probably won’t place Simpson, who served a six-game suspension to start the season, on the active roster until next week. The league granted them a one-week roster exemption Monday because their next game is Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks and because Simpson, who has been ineligible to practice with the 49ers until now, would be unable to get up to speed in time.

He has just ... attacked everything we’ve asked him to do.

Jim Tomsula, 49ers coach, on wide receiver Jerome Simpson

If the 49ers ultimately add him to the 53-man roster, they must remove another player.

Simpson, 29, was suspended in August, his third NFL-issued suspension in four years, for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That decision stemmed from a July 2014 arrest when he was with the Minnesota Vikings.

Simpson has been allowed to work out and attend meetings during his suspension. However, he has been banned from practice. The 49ers have five wide receivers on their active roster: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and rookie DeAndrew White.

“He has just absolutely attacked everything we’ve asked him to do,” coach JimTomsula said of Simpson last week. “He’s allowed to go to meetings. He’s allowed to work out. He comes in early and works out. Everything he’s allowed to do, he’s done, and he’s done it full bore.”

The lanky receiver has averaged 13.8 yards a catch over his career from 2008 with the Cincinnati Bengals to 2013 with the Vikings – he missed the 2014 season – and ostensibly will give quarterback Colin Kaepernick another deep threat.

Kaepernick and the 49ers had six pass plays of 20 yards or more Sunday after having the fewest in that category through the first five games. Kaepernick was particularly effective when using play-action fakes, something he did on nearly 50 percent of his throws.

The 49ers’ wide receivers combined for 236 yards, their highest total of the season.

After mainly operating out of the shotgun in the first four games, Kaepernick primarily has been under center in the past two, which have been perhaps his best two outings of the year.

“I guess the way I’ve heard the questions, it was (done) for Colin,” Tomsula said when asked about taking snaps from center. “It was for the offense. Just game plan-wise and wanting to have everybody on time and some of the things that we are doing in our game plan. He can still be in the gun, and he has, but he can be in it more. Just with the game plan and the things we are trying to do.”

13.8 Jerome Simpson’s career yardage per catch

Et cetera – Tomsula said running back Carlos Hyde, who briefly left Sunday’s game, is working through soreness in his left foot. He said the problem was not with his plantar fascia and should not be a lingering issue.

▪ Tomsula said he was “very optimistic” about Reggie Bush’s return after discussing the running back’s calf injury with the team’s medical staff. Bush has missed the past game and a half after his problematic calf muscle tightened against the New York Giants.

▪ Safety Eric Reid felt sore in his chest area after Sunday’s game but did not break any ribs, Tomsula said.

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

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