49ers camp report: Joe Williams looks like a completely different player


SANTA CLARA – Running back Joe Williams, whose combination of size and skills makes it a near-perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, looks like a different player in his second training camp.

“At running back, you cannot think,” said Shanahan, the 49ers’ head coach. “You have to hit it and not hesitate. And Joe did that in OTAs, and he’s been doing it in these three practices. It was real neat to get the pads on today. He got a few opportunities, and he didn’t flinch. He hit it and had some pretty good results for it.”

Late in practice, Williams took a toss to the left side, cut up field and blasted through an opening for what would’ve been a long gain. It was that kind of decisiveness and urgency that seemed to be lacking from Williams a year ago.

“I think Joe has a lot of ability,” Shanahan said. “And it’s very apparent he’s had a different mindset this year than he did last year. Sometimes, that just takes time. Everybody handles it differently. It took Joe a little bit, mentality-wise.”

The 49ers traded up to select Williams in the fourth round of last year’s draft. He spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve with a minor foot injury. He came back to the team this offseason with the onus squarely on his shoulders to prove himself.

While he has shown the good, there was also some of the bad early in practice when he was stripped of the football on his second carry of an 11-on-11 run drill.

Play of the Day

Neither player was satisfied with the result, but safety Chanceller James ranged near the sideline from the middle of the field to break up a deep C.J. Beathard pass intended for wide receiver Richie James approximately 40 yards down the field. Both players left their feet for the ball and both had a chance to bring it down, but it ended up as an incomplete pass after their fell hard to the ground.

Foster Gets Physical

Linebacker Reuben Foster leveled undrafted rookie running back Jeff Wilson twice during one-on-one coverage drills at the beginning of the team’s first padded practice. Foster also broke up a pass in the flat to Jeremy McNichols but also struggled some in coverage in other one-on-one matchups.

Participation Report

For the third day at the beginning of camp, the 49ers practiced without six players. Linebacker Malcolm Smith (lower leg), receiver Trent Taylor (back), guard Jonathan Cooper (knee), linebacker Dekoda Watson (calf), defensive lineman Kentavius Street (knee) and safety Marcell Harris (Achilles) all remain on injury lists. The following 49ers veterans did not practice (rest days): receiver Pierre Garçon, cornerback Richard Sherman, tackle Joe Staley and nose tackle Earl Mitchell. Tackle Garry Gilliam (elbow) also did not practice.

This ‘n’ That

Undrafted offensive lineman Coleman Shelton drew the assignment for the “Rookie Hype Machine” on Saturday and got the crowd going when he ran toward the stands and sailed out into a head-first dive. “He gave it everything he had and delivered in a big way for the ‘Rookie Hype Machine,’” said Mike McGlinchey, who handled the duties one day prior. “I thought I did a pretty good job, and he definitely out-did me. Whoever’s after him, I feel bad for, for sure.” . . . Former 49ers linebacker Lee Woodall, a starter as a rookie on the organization’s last Super Bowl-winning team, is taking part this summer in the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship, created by the NFL in 2015, The program is designed to expose interested former players to a career in professional scouting. . . . Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo misfired out of bounds on a long pass attempt to Marquise Goodwin on the first snap of 11-on-11 drills. After practice, Garoppolo and Goodwin worked on their timing on the deep ball. . . Second-year player Darrell Williams filled in at left tackle with the first-team offense with Staley and Gilliam behind held out. . .

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