San Francisco 49ers vs. Houston Texans: Matt Barrows' three players to watch
For the second consecutive practice, one of the top offensive plays was delivered by a pair of 49ers’ third stringers – quarterback Jeff Driskel and receiver Bryce Treggs.
The two connected on a 25-yard, sideline pass against Texans cornerback Robert Nelson, a second-year player. A day earlier, Driskel threw a pass to the side of the end zone that Treggs rose up and hauled in for a touchdown.
The two rookies – Driskel is a sixth-round pick; Treggs went undrafted – likely will hit the field some time in the second half of Sunday’s preseason opener.
“I know that feeling – going into your first preseason game as a rookie,” quarterback Blaine Gabbert said of Driskel. “Got the butterflies, just want to go out there and play ball. I’m excited to see what Jeff does. We’ve been with him all summer in the quarterback room and I’m excited for him. He’s going to out there to have some fun and throw the ball around a little bit.”
Treggs, who played at Cal, has been lining up in the slot position with the third-string offense and has become a favorite target of Driskel’s. Bruce Ellington has been the 49ers’ first-team slot receiver; DeAndrew White has been playing the position with the second unit.
Vrabel in town – Friday’s practice brought a scenario coach Chip Kelly probably wishes he’d seen all year: Mike Vrabel coaching defensive players on the 49ers’ practice field in Santa Clara.
Kelly interviewed Vrabel, 40, for his then-vacant defensive coordinator post in January, but Vrabel decided to remain as the Texans linebackers coach.
Vrabel played outside linebacker in the NFL from 1997 to 2010, including for Kelly’s good friend, Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Kelly ultimately hired Jim O’Neil to run his defense.
“Big fan of Mike,” Kelly said Friday. “I mean, obviously had an unbelievable career in New England and then I got to know Mike a little bit when he was on Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State and then talking to (Texans coach Bill O’Brien) about what he’s like to coach with. Just have all the respect in the world for him. I think he’s one of the really top assistant coaches in this league right now.”
Et cetera – Defensive end Arik Armstead, who is dealing with a shoulder injury, did not take part in any contact drills against the Texans. If Armstead doesn’t play Sunday, the starting defensive line likely will include rookie DeForest Buckner, Mike Purcell and Quinton Dial.
▪ Safety Eric Reid was excused from Friday’s practice to be with his wife, who is expecting a baby.
▪ Receiver Quinton Patton and outside linebacker Eli Harold suffered what appeared to be minor injuries during the scrimmage with the Texans. Receiver DeAndre Smelter also did not go through the full practice.