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Saturday is the first 49ers practice in pads

Now we can get a better look at what they have.

Sure, getting practice reports from San Francisco 49ers training camp could indicate how individual players may shape up for the coming 2018 season, just one problem: they haven’t worn pads. Well that changes Saturday as the team will have their first padded practice.

It’s hard to gauge some things when the pads aren’t on. For one thing, offensive linemen have a hard time getting a grip on their blocks so to speak without shoulder pads on opposing defensive linemen. And defensive linemen can squirt through offensive lines without the added bulk.

Running back in particular is the hardest position to gauge in t-shirts and shorts. Kyle Shanahan said just as much in 2017. So far, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida have been turning in solid performances but that could change once the defense can get in and bring them to the ground. That all changes on Saturday. It’s one thing to keep running plays when two hands down you, it’s quite another to keep running plays after you’ve gotten your bell rung a few times.

Hits are going to be hard, players may get a bit chippy with each other, and everything will be a lot different now. The offensive line battle will now be something to take some notes on. Mike McGlinchey’s first day in pads will be interesting as well, how does he do blocking against pass rushers in one-on-one pass rush drills. It will also be interesting how not just Jerick McKinnon or Matt Breida do in pads, but Joe Williams who is getting his second crack at things having spent 2017 on IR.

Given that it’s the first practice in pads, we won’t be getting final answers, but we’ll be moving in that direction.