San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said last training camp wide receiver Dante Pettis came into training camp out of shape. That lead to a couple of injuries and some bad habits that Pettis couldn’t overcome. That appears to have changed. At least, on Tuesday.
Pettis caught a team-best five receptions in the 49ers’ fourth practice of the summer. He had two catches apiece from Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens.
Perhaps, more important, Pettis made his catches in traffic over the middle. In order for Pettis to contribute to the 49ers this season, he has to show a willingness to take his routes into traffic to make the tough catches.
The onus is on Pettis to win a spot on the roster this summer, and it looks as if he is rising to the challenge. The door is open for him to make a strong impression with Hurd out, and Deebo Samuel (foot) and Richie James (wrist) on the non-football injury list. In addition, veteran receiver Travis Benjamin opted out. The 49ers last week signed J.J. Nelson and Tavon Austin, and are expected to sign Jaron Brown to add to the competition.
Hurd’s Twitter and Instagram accounts are now deleted or deactivated, which some 49ers fans on social media have asserted was a response to the vitriol in Hurd’s mentions after news of his injury began circulating over the weekend. We asked the 49ers if that was indeed the reason for Hurd’s social media scrubbing, but they declined to comment.
The timeline does check out, though, and on Wikipedia, someone who’s very angry at a pro athlete for suffering a second debilitating injury — this time in the middle of a pandemic when football matters even less than usual — changed Hurd’s entry to read, “His bones and ligaments are possibly made of low quality glass or wet toilet paper.”
“Trent is an incredible player,” Garland said. “Not only is he talented, explosive, fast and powerful, but he’s a good leader. He brings a lot of intangibles to our team that I think will really strengthen us.
“He’s already leading from the front, kind of grabbing some younger guys, teaching some techniques, and I think he’s really going to be a huge addition to our team.”
“He’s a standup guy, he’s definitely a professional football player that’s for sure,” Brunskill said of Williams on Monday. “Everything he does, he’s got a professional way of going about himself. He’s a tremendous athlete. There’s times where he just makes these amazing plays.
“It’s just his work ethic. He’s one of the guys that’s downfield all the time. It’s a guy that you got to try to keep up with. There’s plays where he’s driving guys downfield and you’re like ‘Holy cow,’ you got to get down there.”
Kinlaw had a chance to beat around the bush early in his session when a reporter asked him to assess his performance in training camp so far. Reporters have only seen glimpses of Kinlaw up close in padded action, so it would’ve been easy for him to simply offer a platitude about feeling effective. There wouldn’t have been much ground to question it.
Instead, Kinlaw pondered the question for a few seconds.
“I would be lying if I thought it was good,” Kinlaw said of his performance in the first few days of camp. “But I’m making improvements. That’s the main thing: Just get better day by day. That’s it. That’s all I’m trying to do. I knew coming in that it wasn’t gonna be easy, so I already had prepared myself for that. And I see the improvements daily.”
“He looks a little leaner but also a lot stronger,” Saleh said. “I attribute that to the maturation of a human being. He is one year out of college.
“… The guy showed up in unbelievable shape. He looks fantastic. He’s moving very well and he’s been able to maintain the thing that people don’t recognize and that’s his power.”
Bosa, who lines up so low it looks like he is doing a plank, must tap into that power to take on new left tackle Trent Williams in what’s become daily must-see theater. Meanwhile, on the other edge, Ford is looking quick and healthy, which Saleh also loves to see, adding: “Dee Ford was a big, big part of what we did a year ago and having him for a full season is very important.”
1. Wide receiver Dante Pettis.
The best wide receiver on the field. Yes, I really wrote that. Pettis has never played this well in a practice in his professional career. He caught a team-high five passes during team drills, including two from Jimmy Garoppolo, who seems to have developed trust in Pettis. Good sign. Pettis also caught three passes over the middle. I thought I was hallucinating. I’ve never seen him attack the ball while running over the middle. Seems like he’s competing to start this season. Good for him.
2. Wide receiver Trent Taylor.
The second-best wide receiver on the field on Tuesday, and has been the most consistent receiver on the offense regardless of position through the first-four days of training camp. Taylor has picked up right where he left off last training camp before he broke his foot when he was Garoppolo’s favorite target. Taylor’s foot seems fine now. Let’s see if he can make it through training camp without getting injured.
3. Wide receiver Jauan Jennings.
Made a difficult, leaping catch between Jamar Taylor and Jimmie Ward for a 15-yard catch on third and 10. Nick Mullens threw the pass even though Jennings essentially was double covered. Mullens clearly trusts Jennings, and for good reason.