The San Francisco 49ers kicked off their first practice of training camp on Saturday. It was a day dominated by the defense, which is typical for the non-padded portions of practice. It was an impressive display nonetheless for the 49ers’ upgraded defensive front that included plenty of Nick Bosa, the team’s second-overall pick in this year’s draft.
The defense gained the upper hand early. Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas broke through the offensive line to end plays early on multiple occasions. Dee Ford and Arik Armstead rounded out the 49ers’ starting front. The team’s linebacking group consisted of Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander and Dre Greenlaw, who seemed to move well as a unit and contributed to the stifling of the offense. Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, K’Waun Williams, Jaquiski Tartt, and Adrian Colbert filled out the secondary.
Bosa impressed in his training camp debut. It was rookie against veteran as Bosa was matched up against veteran Joe Staley for much of the final team portion of practice. Bosa bested Staley on multiple occasions, including a would-be strip-sack of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Staley said after practice via SacBee’s Chris Biderman that Bosa’s technique, particularly his hip movement, makes him a difficult assignment.
The offense wasn’t without its success, though. Garoppolo struggled out of the gate during the first team portion, with all of his passes falling incomplete as he attempted to avoid the consistent onslaught from the defense. During the final team period, he completed six passes in a row to end unofficially 6 of 8. Garoppolo had an impressive completion to Jordan Matthews over the middle that went for a significant gain. On another play, he stepped up in the pocket, avoiding Bosa and found Dante Pettis over the middle, who made an impressive catch with the defensive back draped on his back.
The defense typically begins training camp with an advantage. Monday marks the first padded practice, which is when we’ll start to see a more accurate display of each unit’s ability to impose their will.
- Thomas looked good to kick off his third training camp. His anticipation of the snap and get-off was noticeably faster than those around him, which should aid him in his hopes for a bounce-back year. Coordinator Robert Saleh was complimentary of Thomas’ renewed mindset and clear focus heading into the season.
- Rookie receiver Deebo Samuel reeled in an impressive reception from quarterback Nick Mullens during the team portion of practice. Samuel was running a deep crossing route and created plenty of separation from the defensive back. He made the catch and was able to generate significant yards after the catch.
- Greenlaw, the 49ers’ fifth-round rookie linebacker, also put together a strong showing on Saturday. On the very first play, Greenlaw darted through both lines and met Tevin Coleman in the backfield along with Buckner. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk met with media after practice and commented on Greenlaw’s aggression, which is uncommon for a rookie.
- Saleh had high praise for cornerback Jason Verrett, labeling him a “dog” who was there to impose his will. The 49ers signed the former Los Angeles Chargers cornerback to a one-year deal this offseason. Verrett is coming off his second season-ending injury after rupturing his Achilles tendon at the start of the Chargers training camp in 2018. He’ll be in competition with Ahkello Witherspoon for the starting spot opposite Richard Sherman.
- The 49ers’ next practice is Sunday, beginning at 10 am PST at the team’s practice facility in Santa Clara.