The San Francisco 49ers opened practice to the media for the second time in phase three. There is no live tackling a but plenty of match ups between the offense and the defense. Unlike the last practice I attended where the defense clearly won the day, this practice seemed pretty even without either side dominating. Here are a few takeaways from what I saw at practice.
Matt Barkley is giving Brian Hoyer a run for his money
This a way too early statement (and Barkley is going against the 2s and Hoyer is going against the 1s) but Barkley out-shined Hoyer in practice on Wednesday. Barkley threw into coverage more than once with stand out completions to both DeAndre Carter and Cole Hikutini. The pass to Hikutini was especially accurate, threading the needle between two defensive backs. Hoyer had a very inaccurate deep ball that landed in the middle of the end zone, 10 feet in front of Marquise Goodwin. It may have been a throw away but usually those go towards the sidelines.
Tank Carradine may have found his calling
After several seasons of trying to find his niche, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh may just be what Carradine has needed. The defensive lineman played with the 1s along side Earl Mitchell, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. Finally at home in a 4-3 defense like he played at Florida State, he looks comfortable and is more effective. Presumably Solomon Thomas will eventually take over that position once Stanford concludes classes for the year, but for now, Carradine is holding the spot.
There are a few players on punt return duty
Similar to last practice, return duties were handled by Trent Taylor, Victor Bolden, Rashad Ross and DeAndre Carter. Veteran Jeremy Kerley stood near the group, likely offering advice and support.
The offensive line is still in flux
While Joe Staley and Daniel Kilgore are the pretty consistent in their spots on the offensive line, many of the players continued to rotate in and out of the line up. Joshua Garnett too snaps at both left guard with the 2s and right guard with the 1s. John Theus also worked in at LT and Brandon Fusco at RG with the 1s.
There’s no live hitting ... kind of
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh preaches violence and FA LB Malcolm Smith took it to heart. Smith clotheslined Tim Hightower after he got a short pass in the flat and the end result was a fumble.
The gloves are coming out tomorrow
At this point in the season, the defense usually dominates the practices but sometimes it’s because there’s a little bit of holding involved. College football rules about contact are different than NFL rules. Last year DB coach Jeff Hafley made young members of the secondary wear light weight MMA gloves to prevent holding calls. They will be making an appearance following this practice.
Cornerbacks continue their rotation
While Rashard Robinson has been relatively consistent playing corner with the 1s, there has been a rotation between Keith Reaser and Dontae Johnson for the other spot. Reaser and Robinson both had impressive PBUs on a passes thrown by Hoyer. Johnson, who played more with the 2s was on coverage when Barkley made his two most impressive completions. Johnson kept coverage tight but the receivers still were able to hold onto the ball.
Matt Breida showed off his speed
It may be a little early for MBIOF but the rookie running back flashed his speed on more than one occasion. Once on a pitch back from Barkley and another time on a short pass from C.J. Beathard. He split reps with Joe Williams with the 2s and 3s. Carlos Hyde and Tim Hightower shared reps with the 1s.
Short passes were the focus
Hyde, Hikutini, Trent Taylor and Logan Paulsen all ended the day with three receptions from various quarterbacks. Carter, Bolden, Breida, Kerley, and TE Kyle Juszczyk all recorded two receptions for the practice.
Injury and attendance round up
Bruce Ellington, Jeremy Zuttah and Raheem Mostert did not participate in practice while Reuben Foster was limited to individual drills. While Vance McDonald was away from the facility due to personal reasons, Solomon Thomas and Kendrick Bourne were attending class at their respective schools.