The first week of 49ers training camp is a wrap. The team has one day off and it starts all over again on Tuesday for another four days in a row. We saw some players start to emerge and got a glimpse at what Kyle Shanahan’s offense will look like with the new pieces they added during the offseason.
Here’s what we learned in week one:
I have yet to cover a training camp where positions on the offensive line were not in question. The team added key pieces to the line during the offseason, but it appears that there will still be a rotation at guard. Joshua Garnett had not yet measured up to what the expectations were of him coming out of Stanford, and then got injured last season. As he was going through his rehab, he also went through a body transformation to help him compete with Mike Person for a starting role. Garnett suffered a minor injury to his knee, causing him to miss the final practice of the first week, and he has his work cut out for him once he returns.
It doesn’t take much of watching practice to see how many ways Kyle Shanahan will use Jerick McKinnon. He will run, he will catch. He can go up the middle or around the outside. He can take a pitch back, a sweep or a bubble screen and he can even go deep on a mismatch and beat a linebacker for a 40 yard gain. While the roster doesn’t have a bruiser of a back, Shanahan is the right coach to be able to take advantage of what he does have and that’s McKinnon.
The Draft Class
It’s going to difficult to live up/beat the productivity of the 2017 rookie class. They played more snaps than any other class by a long shot, because they had to. The holes on the roster were already huge and then injuries pushed them into action. The productivity that the 49ers got from George Kittle, Trent Taylor, Adrian Colbert, Ahkello Witherspoon, Reuben Foster, Kendrick Bourne, and the others was remarkable. This class however, is looking like another winner so far. Mike McGlinchey looks to be solidly entrenched as the starting right tackle, Dante Pettis has been flashing his abilities, and Fred Warner has garnered a lot of praise for his performance especially in coverage thus far. It will be interesting how they fare through the rest of camp.
It looks as thought Matt Breida has the second running back position on lock down behind McKinnon, but who will be the third? Raheem Mostert is a special teams ace which gives him value, but Shanahan once saw something special in Joe Williams. It seems Williams knows what’s ahead for him. He has been showing what he’s capable of while working solidly with the twos in practice. More importantly he will have to prove his ability to be consistent throughout training camp to earn that spot. It’s really all up to him.
The Comeback 2.0
It’s all going according to plan for Richard Sherman. He has been worked back into practicing slowly but surely, going from two reps in a row to three. He hasn’t had any setbacks and if nothing else, he’s a competitor. While he has been coaching up the young secondary and been a mentor to Reuben Foster, he has been working on his own skills to prepare him to face his former team twice in three weeks. He adds an edge to the defense that it didn’t have before and a vocal leader in the locker room that it needed.
While there are a lot of things clicking for this team, it’s still week one and it’s a process. Jimmy Garoppolo mentioned in his press conference that he is still working out timing with his wide receivers, especially the likes of Marquise Goodwin who’s speed is undeniable. Each receiver has his own style and speed and it will take a little while for them to all be on the same page. The good thing is that there’s progress, and a lot of it. The long pass from Garoppolo to Goodwin to close out the week really was a thing of beauty. Try to be patient knowing there’s more to come.