By Jerry Mcdonald
SANTA CLARA — The 49ers were back at practice Sunday, making plans behind mostly closed doors as to the makeup of the 53-man roster which will play in Chicago for their regular-season opener against the Bears on Sept. 11.
The 49ers had only one transaction, waiving cornerback Ka’dar Hollman with much more to come before Tuesday’s roster cutdown to 53 players. That means quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo remains awaiting a trade or more likely a release while safety Jimmie Ward appears slated for injured reserve for the first four games of the season.
Among those who weren’t at practice included wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who sustained a contusion to the back of his knee that the 49ers don’t believe is serious, and left tackle Trent Williams, who wasn’t feeling well. Both are expected back when preparation for the Bears begins in earnest.
Returnees included cornerback Charvarius Ward and running back Elijah Mitchell. Both were out with hamstring strains with an eye on Week 1. Ward was injured on Aug. 10. Mitchell two days later. Still out are reserve lineman Daniel Brunskill (hamstring) and right tackle Mike McGlinchey (knee).
In the meantime, the 49ers padded up for a practice that was closed to the media after stretching and drills, with roster locks mixing with those on the fringe awaiting their fate. The 49ers currently have 79 players, and a handful will be out the door Tuesday and walk right back in the following day to serve on the practice squad.
Given that some players will be on the open market, there won’t be any serious Bears-specific preparations until the roster is set.
“I think we’re going to spend the next couple of days focusing on us,” tight end George Kittle said. “We have 15 days left. I think we’ll have plenty of time after these next couple of days.”
Charvarius Ward, who along with Kittle were the only players made available Sunday, said he’s been cleared for takeoff. Ward said he’s been doing conditioning cardio and working on his technique and ball skills.
“I feel good. I’m excited,” Ward said. “Anything just trying to get better.”
Until Tuesday, 49ers practices will be different in that everyone is aware a good portion of players won’t be around by mid-week.
“The cuts in football, they’re not fun,” Kittle said. “You build relationships with these guys, spend a lot of time together, and ultimately guys get cut. You try to sign guys back to the practice squad. I think we have a lot of depth, and I think a lot of guys we release will get picked up in other places. The team is going to look different in a couple of days.”
Because of that, Charvarius Ward said practice will carry a sense of purpose.
“Whether they’re making this team or another team, they’re still going to go out and give their best,” Ward said. “If you don’t make this team you can make another team’s practice squad. Eyes are always on you. You need to improve your game every time you step on the field.”
TIMING UP WITH TREY
Kittle and the receiving corps are still in the process of getting used to quarterback Trey Lance, and vice versa. Once the roster is set, creating a bond and trust with Lance will be a focal point.
“I think there’s a lot of importance in how we make plays, get open for Trey, make him more comfortable and make him want to throw us the football,” Kittle said.
Kittle said he’ll leave the Xs and O’s to head coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Brian Griese and simply exchange ideas with Lance based on what he’s seeing. Lance was 7-of-11 for 49 yards in a 17-0 preseason loss to Houston, missed a throw to Kittle once and didn’t get him the ball when he appeared to be open on another.
“If it pertains to my route I’ll ask, `What did you see? This is what I saw,’ ” Kittle said. “Maybe we can work together a little bit better on that. I know Trey’s OK. I’m not worried about Trey by any means. He had good plays, he had bad plays. It was a very vanilla game plan, and we weren’t in rooms studying our game plan. We were still in camp practices. It will look a lot different when we actually spend time game-planning.”
Although Shanahan doesn’t put much stock in the preseason, the topic of penalties (11 for 104 yards against Houston) is bound to come up.
“I think our biggest issue on offense this past week was we had what, a hundred-thousand penalties and an entire football field in yardage?,” Kittle said. “We’ve got to eliminate those. Definitely wasn’t pretty but there are things to work with. The next few days we’re going to have some big practices and hopefully we can gain some ground.”
IT’S MOONEY WARD
Almost no one calls Charvarius Ward by his given first name. He is known as “Mooney.”
“Everybody in my family has got a nickname,” Ward said. “Nobody gets called by their real name. It’s just a Mississippi thing, I guess.”
Bestowed upon him by his mother for unknown reasons, Ward said he’s been “Mooney” as far back as he can remember.
“She gave all her kids really difficult first names and gave us simple nicknames,” Ward said. “Mooney is way easier than Charvarius.”
According to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, here are the real names and the nicknames of Ward’s siblings:
Charvoun – Nouk
Bruvarius – Stank
Bruvondra – Muffin
Carneatric – Tweety
Gabreon – DJ
Miqaunshun – Bruh Bruh
Source: Paradise Post