The energy was much better at today’s practice than yesterday. There weren’t as many mistakes on offense. There were still some drops, and we’ll touch on that later, but the execution as a whole was much-improved. Yesterday’s practice ended with a missed field goal. Today’s finished with a touchdown.
Richard Sherman wasn’t out there today, but that was scheduled. Sherman had an NFLPA meeting.
George Kittle had some soreness in his hip so, the team sat him out today. The injury isn’t anything to be concerned about.
Jerick McKinnon was running on the side. Kyle Shanahan said the hope is for him to be “full go” for Day 1 of training camp. Shanahan mentioned how the next month would be crucial for McKinnon to have a full recovery.
Aside from that, the 49ers got out of minicamp healthy, which was the goal. In his press conference after practice, Shanahan mentioned how they cut down reps to avoid any unnecessary injuries. The first play of team drills—the only play Jimmy Garoppolo participated in—featured the defensive line merely putting their hands up. Shanahan blew a gasket, thinking they were rushing the passer. That was an entertaining 30 seconds to see him backtrack.
Shanahan said after practice that he feels like, for the first time, he has a team that is equipped to overcome injuries. He spoke highly of the depth on the roster.
With Nick Bosa not practicing, Arik Armstead started at defensive end. Bosa said that Armstead had one of the best offseasons on the team. The linebackers were Elijah Lee in the middle, with Malcolm Smith and Dre Greenlaw on the outside. Greg Mabin was the next man up with Sherman’s absence.
The real story here is the safeties. Adrian Colbert and Jaquiski Tartt started, but three plays later a new group of safeties shuffled in. Then three plays after that a new group shuffled in. I asked Shanahan will these substitutions continue until the 49ers find a pair of safeties that they like. The second group was Antone Exum Jr. at strong safety and Marcel Harris deep. Tarvarius Moore was with the third team, at first.
The first play of 7-on-7 and team featured Kyle Juszczyk out wide at receiver, and Tevin Coleman was motioning out to receiver. One play Coleman motioned left to the slot, then the next play he motioned out wide as a receiver. Shanahan wants to get him involved in the passing game and in space.
Juszczyk’s backup? Tyree Mayfield. The undrafted free agent was playing fullback, or essentially “H-Back” today. Juszczyk caught a touchdown out of the backfield on a wheel route during practice.
You noticed pretty quick that the safeties will be interchangeable. Colbert came down near the line of scrimmage from his free safety position in coverage to make a “tackle” for a short gain. Last year, he is nowhere near the ball on that specific play.
There were three drops today. The first one came down the sideline on a perfectly placed pass from Garoppolo to Dante Pettis. Pettis couldn’t hold on as he extended to make a play. It’s a ball he should have caught, but the referee said he would have called holding.
The ones that hurt were two by Richie James. He beat Ahkello Witherspoon on a play, and Jimmy G put the ball where it needed to be, but James couldn’t adjust over his shoulder and dropped the pass. Towards the end of practice, C.J. Beathard threw a fade to James that should have been a touchdown, but again, James couldn’t squeeze it. It was a rough day for James.
Secondary making plays
One thing about ‘Spoon that makes him dangerous is his recovery speed. James had him on a post for a split second, but couldn’t outrun him. Jimmy G tried to loft the ball out there, but ‘Spoon tracked the pass down and made a great play to break it up.
The most impressive play defensively came from Moore. He came from his free safety spot and broke on a corner route Garoppolo threw that was intended for Marquise Goodwin. It was the type of range that you don’t see often.
Donate Johnson baited Beathard into a poor decision, but he couldn’t hold on for the interception. It would’ve been a great catch.
Yesterday the offense had trouble moving it during the final two minute period. That was not the case today. Garoppolo found Trent Taylor for a few quick catches, as well as Pettis. The offense dinked and dunked its way down the field for a touchdown.
The play that allowed them to do so came on a 3rd & 9 play. Rookie tight end Kaden Smith made a play in traffic to move the chains. Shanahan said after practice that Smith is progressing, but they do hope to get Garrett Celek back soon. I don’t know; Smith looks excellent catching the ball. He’s a big target, too. He has some value.
The session ended with Pettis sitting down over the middle where he beat K’Waun Williams for a short touchdown.
Plays/Player of the day
The wheel down the sideline to Juice was the highlight for the offense. Taylor caught a deep ball, but that play wouldn’t have counted in “real” football. Nick Mullens tripped over someone, and the play took upwards to six seconds.
While the Moore pass breakup was impressive, Sheldon Day blew up a play on 3rd and inches that would have gotten the defense off the field. Day also beat Mike Person a couple of other times for a would-be tackle for loss. He was the most impressive player today.
Nick Mullens on if he noticed Pettis being quicker/faster with the added weight Pettis put on:
Jimmy G on the most noticeable difference in playing the 49ers defense last year and this year:
Fred Warner on which defender has flown under the radar this offseason for the Niners: