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12 things we learned from the 49ers first day of OTAs

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The 49ers opened up their OTAs and Niners Nation was there to cover it. Here's what we learned.

The San Francisco 49ers started the OTA portion of their offseason program and media was allowed to watch the entire practice. We were allowed to take photos and videos for the individual drills but not during the latter portion of the practice which included some 11-on-11 work. Here are a few things I observed:

  • The only players not in attendance were Ian Williams, who is rehabbing from off season ankle surgery, and Joshua Garnett who is still in school. Ahmad Brooks was not on the field during individual drills and did not join the team until around noon (players were on the field around 10:30). He did not do any of the 11-on-11 work.
  • The defensive line worked on the sleds. DL coach Jerry Azzinaro is known to use sleds so much that they have to be repaired regularly. DeForest Buckner confirmed that after practice. Some of the veterans told him that they hadn't hit the sled this much in years.
  • QB Colin Kaepernick is still rehabbing from his off season surgeries and as a result is not throwing the football during drills or group practice sessions. He was out on the field but only allowed to go through the motions of taking a snap and throwing the ball. He did hand the ball off a few times but that was his only player on player work.

  • Chip Kelly's practices are fast. There was very little down time at all. There were general calisthenics with the whole team before players split up by position. Throughout practice there were many players with hands on their hips, and at one point Trent Brown took a break to catch his breath.

  • Practices are sometimes loud. There was loud music for most of the practice that ranged from rap to country during most of the early periods. During later portions there was a robotic male voice calmly announcing instructions for the next period.
  • To keep everything moving there's an interesting drill where 5 passes are thrown to 5 WRs at once. Each receiver runs a different route.  Chip Kelly was one of the QBs during that drill along with Blaine Gabbert, Thad Lewis, Jeff Driskel and one of the training staff.
  • Bruce Miller is now a tight end. He was running routes and caught a few passes on the outside. He confirmed this during his media availability following practice, more on that coming soon. Personally I hope they find a place for him. He's a smart, hardworking guy who was underutilized last season.
  • DuJuan Harris was utilized frequently as a receiver. He caught several passes in the flat as well as on the outside.
  • Offensive line for the 1s included from left to right: Joe Staley, Zane Beadles, Daniel Kilgore, Brandon Thomas and Eric Pears. The 2s were Colin Kelly, Ian Silberman, Marcus Martin, Andrew Tiller, Trent Brown. 3s were Norman Price, Blake Muir, Alex Balducci, Fahn Cooper and John Theus. Things will likely shift when Garnett is able to participate. Pears has slimmed down considerably which could be a benefit with quickness at the line.
  • Defensive line up for the 1s included Arik Armstead, Quinton Dial, Mike Purcell, Aaron Lynch, NaVorro Bowman, Gerald Hodges, Eli Harold, Antoine Bethea, Eric Reid, Tramaine Brock, and Jimmie Ward who was lined up as a CB in the base defense set up.
  • 2s on for the defense included Corey Lemonier, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Michael Wilhoite, Kaleb Ramsey, Nick Bellore, Jered Bell, Marcus Rush, Kenneth Acker, Jaquiski Tartt, Dontae Johnson, and Marcus Cromartie. DeForest Buckner, Ronald Blair and Tank Carradine all practiced with the 3s. Carradine is being used more on the outside.
  • Jeff Driskel is fast. He broke out of the pocket to his right during a broken play and had no trouble eluding the defenders.

  • It will be an interesting competition at WR. The only veteran with experience is Torrey Smith. Eric Rogers is a large target and used his size for the most dynamic catch of the day, although it ended up out of bounds.