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3 things we learned from 49ers’ practice, August 1

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It was the first practice in August — here’s what we can take away from it.

The San Francisco 49ers are only seven days away from suiting up for the first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. With each passing day, the goal is to improve and prepare for the opening weekend of the regular season against the Minnesota Vikings.

Here are some highlights, an injury report and three takeaways from the 49ers’ practice on Wednesday, August 1.

Highlights

  • WR Dante Pettis continues to be the rookie that’s turning heads, routinely blowing by a different defensive back each day. On Wednesday, the ex-Husky created over five yards of separation on a deep route, allowing for QB Jimmy Garoppolo to connect with him on a touchdown.
  • The buzz around TE George Kittle has been fairly calm this offseason, but it all changed on Wednesday. The 49ers’ No. 1 tight end put on his Odell Beckham Jr. hat and made a one-handed grab look effortless.
  • The defensive backfield is one of the more crowded position groups on this roster. Especially with the youth that was added this offseason, it’s going to take some eye-popping plays from one of those rookies to land them a roster spot. DB Tarvarus McFadden delivered on Wednesday, laying out for an interception.

Injury Report

Below are the new additions to the injury report before Wednesday’s practice.

  • LB Brock Coyle (Hip) — The 49ers’ linebacker will be out for the rest of the week after injuring his hip.
  • DB Jimmie Ward (Hamstring) — Ward is listed as day-to-day after hurting his hamstring during the offseason program.
  • WR Marquise Goodwin (Vet Day) — Goodwin was given the day off on Wednesday, much to the delight of the defensive backs.
  • OL J.P. Flynn (Knee) — After injuring his knee, the 49ers’ offensive lineman is listed as day-to-day.

Takeaways

  • With every injury, there’s always a player that’s lower on the totem pole that has an opportunity to benefit from it. When DL Arik Armstead went down with an hamstring injury, it seemed like it was a squandered chance for the ex-Oregon DL.

When that door closed for Armstead, it swung wide open for seventh-round pick DL Jullian Taylor. The ex-Temple defender played the strong side defensive end position with the first-team defense on Wednesday.

This was a golden opportunity for Taylor to earn himself a roster spot and by all reports, he’s taking full advantage of it. Kyle Shanahan added that Taylor “earned his reps” and Taylor flashed his potential alongside the other starters.

  • Right guard seems be an open competition through the first week and a half at practice. Josh Garnett has not been participating with a knee injury, thus allowing for Erik Magnuson and Mike Person to split reps with the starters on Wednesday.

While the 49ers seemed to have four starting positions on the offensive line locked down, right guard could be a nagging problem heading into the season.

Chemistry is the key to an offensive line’s success, so the longer it takes for Shanahan to find his right guard, the more difficult it will be to develop.

  • An area of emphasis for the 49ers in the second year of the Kyle Shanahan era was their red-zone offense. On Wednesday, the offense seemed to flex its muscles on the defense within striking distance of the end zone.

QB Jimmy Garoppolo hit WR Kendrick Bourne for a 10-yard touchdown and found RB Matt Breida for a short toss during the red zone 11-on-11 drills. QB C.J. Beathard found Pettis close to the end zone for a would-be touchdown as well.

For the 49ers to take the next step this season, they’ll need to convert long drives into touchdowns once they enter the red zone.

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