The San Francisco 49ers returned to the practice field on Thursday. Tempers flared as a couple of scuffles broke out. Both fights involved players that are unlikely to make the roster, though Kyle Shanahan wasn’t mad after practice. He said, “sometimes scuffles are OK. They wake everyone up a little bit.”
“When he came in, I saw him right away and we had a chance to talk,” Shanahan said on Thursday. “And you could just tell his mindset, and how his body was, that he spent time away from us doing everything he could to put himself in a position to make this team and be as successful as he can be.”
“He had a lot of opportunities, but it wasn’t just that,” Shanahan said. “It was the demeanor, the aggression, his routes and everything. I’ve been very pleased with Dante so far.”
“It’s really fun to go against him every day,” Bosa said. “He’s not a dirty player at all. He’s not pushing you after plays, he’s just getting good work in between the whistles. From what I’ve seen, he’s going to be very helpful this year.
“Trent has been everything we’ve expected,” Shanahan said. “Trent is as talented of a football player that I’ve ever been around. He’s the exact same guy, still the same athlete, still moves the same, a very aggressive player.”
“Jimmy has been spoiled with Joe and now Trent. It doesn’t get much better.”
Javon Kinlaw again tried to use power on guard Laken Tomlinson and again Tomlinson thwarted the first-round pick. He won both matchups against Kinlaw, the first one convincingly. Tomlinson also beat Kentavius Street later in the drill. As we noted on Wednesday, Street otherwise has looked far better — more fluid, more powerful — than he did last year when he was returning from a knee injury.
• The “Day’s Biggest Pancake” award went to nose tackle D.J. Jones, who welcomed newcomer center Hroniss Grasu by sending him seven yards deep into the offensive backfield and planting him on his back. The 49ers’ nose tackles have outmuscled the team’s light-bodied centers to this point. Having said that, backup centers Daniel Brunskill and Ross Reynolds were better on Thursday than they were earlier in the week when they were easily moved around by the defensive counterparts.
• Fifth-round pick Colton McKivitz is learning to play guard after mostly playing tackle at West Virginia. It’s been a tough process early on and he’s spent a lot of time on the ground. Street flung him down on one of their matchups Thursday.
But Shanahan said Thursday that the new rules by which everyone is playing this summer are forcing him to change. He does not plan to be so forthright this season as the 49ers lead up to their regular-season opener on Sept. 13 against the Arizona Cardinals.
“This year is a little bit different from talking about who we’re playing at what position and why because there is no preseason game,” Shanahan said.
“No one gets any tape, so we’re not going to see anything on Arizona until we get out there for the first play in the first quarter. And the same thing with us.”
“He’s honestly not as tall as I thought he was going to be, which kind of makes it more difficult because he’s got a really low center of gravity,” Bosa said. “And it’s tough to power him and get underneath him, which is something that I like to use to my advantage. For him, he plays so low to the ground and he bends so well, so he’s never really up high and exposing himself to power.
“And on normal moves that I would usually be happy about — and probably beat other offensive linemen with pretty cleanly — he’s right in your hip pocket when you’re making the burst to the quarterback. Just his ability to recover and get back in front of you is elite.”
Bosa has not faced a tackle with Williams’ blend of size and athleticism, saying the closest comparison was the Seahawks’ Duane Brown. And Bosa appreciates Williams’ other qualities.
“He’s not a dirty player at all — he’s not pushing you after plays,” Bosa said. “He’s just getting good work in between the whistles. ... You have to come with the right mind-set every day. And not let the bad reps get to you as much.”
3. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead.
Returned to practice, in the sense that he warmed up with the defensive linemen but did not participate in any of the competitive portions that contained collisions. Will he sit out all of training camp? Will he be ready Week 1? He’d better be. They’re paying him to play exactly how he played last year.
4. Defensive end Dee Ford.
Seems healthy, but can’t beat Mike McGlinchey during one on ones. The past four times they’ve faced each other (counting Tuesday’s practice), Ford has tried to beat McGlinchey around the edge with speed and failed and attempted zero counters. You’d expect to see more effort from the second-highest-paid player on the team.
5. Defensive end Dion Jordan.
Made zero plays — his specialty — but also started two fights with backup offensive tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith and didn’t win either one. Jordan seemed frustrated he couldn’t beat someone he probably had never heard of. So far, Jordan has done nothing on the football field to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, and he’s a bad fighter, too.
6. Offensive guard Colton McKivitz.
A good run blocker from what I saw in college, but an awful pass protector. He lacks strength and length, meaning he has short arms. So he can’t block anyone consistently during one on ones. Even Solomon Thomas can beat McKivitz, and Thomas doesn’t usually beat anyone. Maybe McKivitz eventually will improve the way McGlinchey did, or maybe he won’t. He has a ways to go.