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49ers Rookie G Joshua Garnett Gives Update on Personal Growth

Joshua Garnett played a career-high 18 offensive snaps in Week 5 of the regular season. Further, it was his first offensive downs in any NFL game.

The San Francisco 49ers rookie guard could be in line for more playing time in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills.

The first-round draft pick played right guard late in last Thursday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Stanford product took the place of Andrew Tiller, who opened the season as the starter for five consecutive games.

"He did some nice things at times and then some other things that I'm sure he wants back, but that'll come with time with him," Chip Kelly said. "He's getting better, and he's progressing each week, so we're trying to get him some snaps out there and see what he can do."

Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins wouldn't confirm if Garnett had moved into the starting lineup this week along with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback.

"I don't know," the OC said. "We got him a couple plays in the game because of the way the game fell out. Hopefully we're able to continue that, but no decision has been made about him being a starter."

View the top shots of San Francisco's 2016 Rookie class.

Garnett has been preparing like a starter for the first month and a half of the season. He told reporters on Wednesday that San Francisco's coaching staff uses "player evaluations" to help rookie linemen prepare for every game. Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty has each player evaluate their potential opponent on a weekly basis to get a better feel for what they could face on gameday.

"It definitely helps you looking at picking up games," Garnett began.  "You can look at their steps. It's 3rd-and-long at the end of the game, what move is he going to do? You know what his best moves are. You've seen the tape, and you're able to not guess, but have a good mindset on what you think he's going to pull out."

One of those "games," a term used to describe pass-rushing stunts where multiple defenders criss-cross when rushing up the field, got the best of Garnett in Week 5. The rookie was beat on an inside pass-rushing stunt and Blaine Gabbert was subsequently sacked for a safety. It was one of seven sacks surrendered by the 49ers offensive line against the Cardinals.

"That was on me," Garnett said. "It's something that's going to get corrected."

Garnett's appearance on the right side of the line is even more intruiging considering his background at Stanford on the left side of the line. The reigning Pac-12 lineman of the year played at both guard spots in the preseason.

It was for a good reason.

"I think part of developing an offensive line is you have to have some multiplicity with guys being able to play different positions," Modkins explained. "When you're trying to get to know a player, get to know a team, get to know a unit, especially offensive line, I think it helps to get guys experience at a different position so we know what we have. Josh has done a good job, and we look forward to him continuing to develop."

Garnett has no issue with playing on either side of the line.

"It's not too difficult," he said. "The fundamentals are the fundamentals. On either side you have to take a certain set. You've got to have your hands up. You have to make a punch. That's the same thing on both sides."

For now, the focus for the rookie is on continuing his development in all aspects of his game, especially pass-protection.

"I think coming out of Stanford everyone knew I was a big, powerful run-blocker," Garnett said. "That's kind of been my bread and butter. I feel like pass-pro is something I've been putting in a lot of time and effort on."

Garnett's goal is to be a "complete player."

We'll have to wait and see if he'll get to showcase his continued growth this Sunday in Buffalo.

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