Finally back to some real football as the San Francisco 49ers donned pads for the first time since last season. It has been difficult to say who has stood out more in camp when players are just wearing their "underwear" on the field, especially for the linemen which is a point of interest on both sides of the ball.
The day started out with media availability with head coach Chip Kelly where he had some nice things to say about Torrey Smith’s leadership and professionalism as well as Bruce Miller’s adjustment to his new position. He kept from giving any hints as to who he thinks may be making strides to becoming the starting quarterback for the regular season.
Practice was very similar to what has been seen previously. Team warm ups, position warm ups and drills, followed by alternating team and teach sessions. The players were wearing pads but it was still not a "live" practice meaning full tackling was still not allowed. Kelly didn’t want anyone "leaving their feet." Here are a few takeaways from today’s practice session. I also did a Facebook Live chat Tuesday night, and have posted the video above.
- Interesting warm up pairings for the OL. The group is split up by sides for some of the exercises and Anthony Davis was paired with Joshua Garnett. Other pairings were Brandon Thomas and Andrew Tiller, John Theus and Trent Brown and centers Daniel Kilgore and Marcus Martin. On the other side, Staley is always paired with Zane Beadles.
- Glenn Dorsey, Will Redmond and L.J. McCray were all full participation during practice. McCray is wearing a pretty significant knee brace.
- It was an average day for the QBs. Gabbert had the only touchdown on the day with a long pass to Torrey Smith down the center of the field were Smith simply out ran coverage. Throughout 7s and 11s Gabbert was 12/20 and Kaepernick was 12/18 with no picks for either QBs. I’ve included an interesting side by side video of the two QBs. It’s only warm ups but you can see the difference in body mechanics.
- Bradley Pinion had a better day today. All of his punts were in bounds and were fielded anywhere between the 4 yard line and the 24 yard line. Bryce Treggs, DeAndrew White and Bruce Ellington are looking like the options for punt returners.
- DeForest Buckner was playing on both sides of the line, sometimes switching back and forth every other play. During team drills, the offense often had to double team him. When they didn’t, he sacked Kaepernick putting him right on his bum.
- Aaron Lynch practiced and will continue to do so until he serves his suspension during weeks 1-4. He swatted down a Blaine Gabbert pass but didn’t do as well in coverage, allowing a completion from Kaepernick to TE Vance McDonald.
- Ray Ray Armstrong had his day to play inside next to NaVorro Bowman and had a pretty good showing. He swatted down a pass that was consequently almost intercepted by Bowman as well as a PBU on a Kaepernick pass intended for Garrett Celek. There were other LB PBUs made by Bowman, Nick Bellore (2).
- Cornerbacks playing with the 1s were Tramaine Brock and Jimmie Ward on the left side and Keith Reaser on the right. Reaser had another good day with a PBU on a Kaepernick pass while Brock fought over a ball/almost intercepted a pass thrown to Eric Rogers. Other secondary PBUs were made by Brock, Marcus Cromartie and Jered Bell.
- Of the TEs, Je’Ron Hamm had the best day with 5 catches on 6 targets. McDonald 3/4, Celek 2/4, Blake Bell 1/3, Busta Anderson 0/1.
- The best pass of the day, that drew comments from everyone on the sidelines, was from rookie Jeff Driskel who threaded the needle between Reaser and S Jered Bell to Torrey Smith. It was perfectly placed through a very small window.
- Jerome Simpson was having a pretty good day until he either smashed his hand or dislocated a finger and was tended to by trainers.
- The OL went up against the DL in small groups to practice blocking techniques and strategies. Even though they weren’t at full speed, the sound alone sends the signal that football is back.
Players have Wednesday off and return to camp on Thursday. I will be going to the HOF ceremony on Saturday in Canton and will be returning to training camp on Sunday for more updates.