Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

49ers rookie OL Garnett eager to learn, speak up

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Joshua Garnett is a rookie right guard with one NFL start to his name who is unafraid to get vocal in the huddle and fire up his teammates.

San Francisco's first-round pick is making an impression with his work, too.

"He listens, he wants to get better every day he gets out there," receiver Quinton Patton said. "We go in there, he's, 'Hey, I'm up, I'm ready.' He's talkative in the huddle. In the game, 'Let's go, let's get it done.' Coming from a rookie, he's dialed in, he's comfortable. That's what you want to feel."

Garnett is certainly learning under fire, thrown right in during a rough start for San Francisco — which hosts the Bucs on Sunday — under first-year coach Chip Kelly.

Veteran linemen are sharing their thoughts from film. Garnett wants to offer his support right back.

"I feel like I'm part of a unit, like I'm one-eleventh, I'm just one cog in the whole entire machine," he said Wednesday. "Just make sure everyone's kind of feeling that intensity that I'm feeling. As a rookie I know a lot of times you kind of have to tread lightly because you don't want to mess up anyone else's routine and you don't want to say too much because you haven't earned that right yet. But also I just kind of like to, during the games, get a little vocal. If we're going to run the ball, 'Let's go, man,' something quick, easy. Not talking too much but also not saying anything like you're super nervous."

Garnett hopes to keep hold of the job after making his first start of the season for San Francisco in a 45-16 loss at Buffalo last week in place of Andrew Tiller.

The 49ers traded up to draft the 6-foot-5, 321-pound Garnett 28th overall in the first round out of Stanford. He realizes there are major strides still to be made.

"I don't mean it to be discouraging but he needs to improve everywhere. He's played in two games for us so far," Kelly said. "You do see improvement and that's the positive thing with Josh. He's got a great work ethic. He's got a really good grasp of football in general, now learning the specifics and nuances of the 49er offense. He can grow in every area. He played better in Buffalo than he played the week before against the Cardinals. We hope he continues to grow in every aspect — in pass pro, in the run game, in hand placement. All the little tiny things that it takes to be a really good offensive lineman in this league."

He has already studied film from Sunday.

"I want to be the guy who if you make a mistake once, he's not going to make the same mistake again," Garnett said.

As quarterback Colin Kaepernick makes his second start of the season Sunday against Tampa Bay , he is expected to be without top running back Carlos Hyde because of a right shoulder injury. Hyde sat out Tuesday's practice and again Wednesday, a sling over his right arm both days, and said he is scheduled to return after next week's bye.

Kaepernick took three sacks by the Bills for 20 lost yards, a sign the offensive line is still a work in progress.

Garnett showed the coaches he had earned a shot at playing with the No. 1 unit based on his progress in practice, though offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins insists that didn't mean Tiller was struggling.

"Overall, the kid fought," Modkins said. "He's a rookie, so he's got a lot to learn and a lot to grow on. He's getting better and better and we've got to keep him on that track."

Going forward, Garnett wants to keep doing the little things right on and off the field.

"You want to do stuff that's going to gain the respect of the older guys," he said. "If you lose at practice, don't mope around. You're going to get after it. You want to be one of those guys who's in here early, doing the right things for a young guy to show them you take this seriously even though it's your rookie year. You want to compete and you don't want to be viewed as a rookie."

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