The 49ers collectively exhaled Tuesday after learning that a frightening hit that left a rookie linebacker unconscious and unmoving did not include any fractures to his spine.
Donavin Newsom, an undrafted rookie out of the University of Missouri, was diagnosed with a concussion after he and fellow rookie Chanceller James collided late in Tuesday’s practice while trying to defend a pass over the middle.
As James slowly got to his feet, Newsom remained on his back with his arms splayed outward. Teammates immediately called and signaled for the training staff. When Newsom showed no sign of movement initially, the emergency medical technicians who are on hand for every practice were called in. Newsom was placed on a back brace and then taken away in an ambulance to Stanford Hospital. He remained under observation at the hospital late Tuesday.
“I heard it more than saw it,” quarterback Brian Hoyer said. “Obviously, you never want to see that happen to anybody. Unfortunately we play a collision sport and things like that are really unpreventable — two aggressive guys going in to make a play.”
Both Newsom and James are part of a promising group of undrafted rookies who have made their marks with the 49ers this summer.
They were working with the second-string unit — Newsom was lined up next to Reuben Foster at inside linebacker — when the collision occurred with about five minutes left in the session. Newsom had missed practice last week due to a neck issue but returned on Monday and practiced in full.
James, who played at Boise State and who already has developed a reputation as a big hitter at 49ers training camp, appeared distraught afterward. Veteran safety Eric Reid said he and some other veterans tried to comfort James.
“We told him to keep his head up, makes sure he checks on Donavin, keep praying about him but not to blame himself,” Reid said. “Because that stuff happens when you play this game.”