The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their second day of practice, marking their final practice before they put on the pads on Tuesday. There were some standout performers on Tuesday. And while the depth chart is not remotely set, we get more lineup combinations to consider as the first preseason game approaches in just under two weeks. I’ve linked some of the beat writer practice reports. Jennifer Chan was not on hand, but will be back on Tuesday.
Jimmie Ward showing things
The 49ers cornerback had a pick-six of Blaine Gabbert. It seems like defenses often have an edge over a new defense, but it is still interesting to hear why a player was able to make a big play. Ward described a correction that made the play happen:
“We were in man-free, and I kind of confused the quarterback. Then I ended up jumping outside to my leverage I was supposed to have and I knew where my help was. And he ended up throwing me the ball, and I just made a play on it…That was a correction from yesterday. I got beat on that route the first day. It was an option route from the slot. So we went in (the) film (room), he told me what to do and we made corrections.”
The 49ers defense has plenty of questions, particularly among the younger players, but I’m really excited about Ward at one of the outside cornerback roles. I imagine he gets attacked plenty early, but I feel like we could see a significant breakout year this season.
The numbers continue to pile up. Pads and the physicality of cornerbacks vs. wide receivers will add even more context to this picture.
#49ers QB Watch, Practice #2:— Cam Inman (@CamInman) August 1, 2016
*Gabbert threw nice TD deep to Jerome Simpson but had pick-6 INT by Ward
Nose tackle: We got our first look at Quinton Dial, nose tackle. He lined up with Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. Mike Purcell has been handling first string nose tackle work for the most part, so it is interesting to see them try this mix. I suspect we see some of it in the preseason, and the regular season, even if Purcell claims the starting job out of camp.
Offensive line: Trent Brown and Andrew Tiller handled first team right tackle and right guard duties, respectively. Erik Pears has been the second string left tackle through two practices, with John Theus at second string right tackle. Anthony Davis and Joshua Garnett remained at third team right tackle/guard. We have another week and a half of practices before the preseason opener.
Wide receiver: According to Grant Cohn, DeAndre Smelter got some first team reps at split end. Cohn thinks Smelter could be the primary competition for Quinton Patton’s spot. There are so many players competing for wide receiver snaps, so it is hard to really get a full handle on things. The playing time in that first preseason game will tell us something.
Inside linebacker: Gerald Hodges handled work next to NaVorro Bowman a day after Michael Wilhoite handled it. We can expect Ray-Ray Armstrong on Tuesday.
Kick return: The 49ers are rotating a lot of players at kick return. Bruce Ellington is the favorite, but he faces competition from DeAndrew White, Bryce Treggs, DuJuan Harris, Chris Davis, and Mike Davis.
We had the first fight of training camp, between tight end Busta Anderson and linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong. According to the reports, the two players get their legs intertwined, and after they went down, they came up jawing at each other. It’s not the end of the world, but always interesting to see how passions flair in practice. My guess is we see more of it later next week.