The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up mandatory minicamp on Wednesday as players are now free for a six-week summer break. The defense dominated both of the 49ers padless practices. Head coach Kyle Shanahan discussed four key members of the defense and provided and early preview of training camp.
After coaching from the sidelines for the past two months, Sherman made his practice debut on Tuesday taking part in individual drills. He appears to be on schedule for a training camp return from his Achilles injury last November.
“Not promising you it’ll be (the first day of camp), but that’s what we’re looking to, and there’s been no reason to think differently,” Shanahan said.
Both Jaquiski Tartt and Fred Warner mentioned that Foster has brought the energy that the defense had been missing in his absence. Legal issues kept him out of a large chunk of OTAs. Since his return in late May, the 49ers eased him back into full team drills. Foster has been a full participant at both minicamp practices.
“He tried hard to get thrown in there the very first day he got back and we definitely had to hold him back," Shanahan said. "Him and (head strength & conditioning coach) Ray (Wright) just went one-on-one for about a week and a half, got him in shape and we started to ease him in more last week with the reps. We built him up each day and starting today, he should be treated just like everyone else out there based off rep-wise. He’s in shape and ready to go and it’s been fun having him back.”
If you rewind the tape to last year, one of the 49ers top storylines heading in the offseason was Ward’s switch from cornerback to safety. One year later, Ward now finds himself back in competition for a spot at cornerback. Robert Saleh and Shanahan have both praised Ward’s versatility. With Sherman slated to return next month, Ward might find himself earning reps at every defensive back position.
“Jimmie can help us out most where he’s needed the most, which is a very good thing for a team to have," Shanahan said. "It’s a very big compliment to say to Jimmie that he’s capable of helping us out at nickel, corner and safety. Where do we need him the most? We’re not quite sure yet. But, what I’ve been excited about is how he looked through all the OTAs.”
When Ward went down last season, Colbert stepped up. The seventh-round pick went on to start the final six games of the season and appears to have a stranglehold on the free safety job.
“Right now it looks that way. I’m not going to make any guarantees, but if anyone watches the level he played at last year was very good and he got better the more he played," Shanahan said. "We were very happy with him as our middle-third player.”