SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The day before training camp began, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that the right guard spot would be the most hotly-contested spot on the offense.
San Francisco had a candidate — former first-round pick Josh Garnett — and a capable cast of contenders like Mike Person, Erik Magnuson and Jonathan Cooper. Cooper, though, came to camp hurt, and Garnett banged his surgically-repaired knee on the third day of camp.
On Sunday, Shanahan said Garnett — who missed all of 2017 with a knee injury — will be out at least another week, as will cornerback Richard Sherman. Both will miss the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 9.
“His knee’s bothering him, he’s gotten some other opinions, so we’re going to give him a week, take this week off, and continue to get treatment, and then re-assess it next week,” Shanahan said of Garnett.
Sherman, who suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain while falling down hard two days ago, will take a week off. A seven-year veteran coming off an Achilles tear, Sherman likely doesn’t need so many preseason reps, and certainly doesn’t need to be exposed to Dallas.
“At least a week. Similar to Garnett. We’re definitely going to rest him at least a week,” Shanahan said. “We don’t think it should be long-term. It’s Grade 1 [strain], a little higher than we expected, so we’ve got to be careful with that.”
While the cornerbacks group has been the strongest unit for the 49ers this camp, the right guard spot has been far more troublesome.
Last year, the 49ers put Garnett on injured reserve before the season began, and although he could have returned at the midway point, he used his time off to rehab the knee and get in better shape for an offense that requires a bit more of its men up front than Chip Kelly’s scheme. He was supposed to be ready to compete with Cooper for that pesky right guard spot. Instead, on Sunday, Person, Magnuson and Cooper took first-team reps at right guard, though Cooper’s reps were limited to the early part of practice, as he works back from a knee injury of his own after starting camp on the PUP list.
“It’s still early,” Shanahan said. “That’s the one we’ve got the most competition at, that’s for sure. Two of the guys who are going to be right — should be right in that competition — aren’t practicing fully. Obviously, they haven’t been in it, but it’s given other guys opportunities — guys like Magnuson, guys like Person. Those guys have played football. Those guys have started games in this league before. It’s definitely got them right in this mix.”
With Garnett going down, the 49ers signed Chris Gonzalez, a San Jose State product.
The signing of Gonzalez, Shanahan said, was colored by the loss of Garnett, as well as that of Alan Knott. His father passed away on Sunday morning, so the Tyrone, Georgia native went home to spend time with his family.
Gonzalez had originally signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent. The 23-year old Los Angeles native played 44 games for the Spartans and started 36, and earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West as a senior in 2017. He practiced with the third team on Sunday, wearing No. 67.
In other injury news, cornerback K’Waun Williams rolled his left ankle and left the practice field.
“I heard he just rolled his ankle. We’ll find out more later,” Shanahan said. “Right now we don’t think it’s high, but we’ll see.”