The San Francisco 49ers struggled in the red zone in 2018, on both sides of the ball. That was the focus of the team on Thursday after a much-needed day off. The 49ers’ return to training camp for Day 5 featured a significant focus on the end zone, both in individual and team portions of practice. It was the offense’s turn to claim a victory.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a bounce-back day after completing just five of 14 passes on Tuesday. He finished team five of eight and completed five of six during the red zone portion, throwing four touchdowns. He connected with wideout Dante Pettis for two scores, while tight end George Kittle and running back Matt Breida caught the other two.
The final portion of practice wasn’t all offense, though. Sheldon Day totaled two sacks and an impressive run stop while working from the interior of the defensive line. Arik Armstead looked poised to add a sack of his own, but Garoppolo fired it over the top of the defensive lineman and found Pettis in the back of the endzone.
Thursday’s practice also featured some 1-on-1 red zone action between the receivers and defensive backs. The highlight of the session was Pettis’ matchup with Richard Sherman. The second-year wideout beat the veteran to the corner on a fade from Garoppolo, leaping up to haul in the pass before turning and tapping his feet in bounds. It was an superb play from Pettis, and Sherman was quick to offer praise.
Receiver Kendrick Bourne won all of his reps, most of which came against cornerback Dontae Johnson. Receiver Trent Taylor and cornerback K’Waun Williams went back and forth in a competitive, quick-twitch matchup. Rookie wideout Deebo Samuel imposed his will on the slant route against corner DJ Reed for the score. Jason Verrett looks healthy and had an nice pass breakup while covering Samuel. The former Los Angeles Chargers’ cornerback is still being eased back from his torn Achilles suffered in 2018.
- Coach Kyle Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and players visited, took photos and offered condolences to the family of Tara O’Sullivan on Thursday, the Sacramento police officer that was killed in the line of duty on June 19, 2019. The entire team signed a first responder flag that was given to the family in honor of Tara.
- The 49ers run game looked noticeably improved on Day 5. DeForest Buckner’s absence was likely a factor in that success. Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert all looked solid in a rushing attack that had been easily stifled before today. Coleman was the recipient of a huge hit from Richard Sherman earlier in camp. The 49ers running back got revenge today, knocking Sherman back on his rear after catching a short pass from Jimmy Garoppolo.
- Second-year wideout Richie James continues to make plays. He’s been one of the most impressive and consistent receivers through five practices and is a favorite target for all three quarterbacks. Marquise Goodwin also had a strong day.
- Defensive back Tarvarius Moore authored an impressive hit on Thursday. Breida bounced the ball out left and was attempted to gain the edge. Moore took a good angle and met Breida just beyond the defensive line, driving him back until the whistle. The hit earned plenty of praise from the rest of the defense. Moore is competing with Adrian Colbert to be the starter at free safety. Jimmie Ward is yet to return to practice.
- Punter Mitch Wishnowsky got some extended work today kicking to the 49ers’ crop of punt returners. The fourth-round pick worked several style punts, many of which were a pain for to reel in for Pettis, Reed and the other returners. Wishnowsky’s last two punts both eclipsed the five-second mark for hang time. The NFL’s leader in 2018 averaged 4.8 seconds.
- Defensive lineman Dee Ford was dealing with tendinitis in his knee today and sat out the team portion of practice. Ford said that the initial knee pain had been a reoccurring issue throughout training camps in years past. It did not seem serious, and Shanahan does not expect Ford to miss any time.
- Guard Josh Garnett underwent surgery recently to repair a dislocated finger suffered during the first day of training camp. Shanahan said the former first-round guard is expected to be out three weeks.