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Practice notes: Solomon Thomas continues to make plays

Alexander, Moseley, McKinnon, and Taylor all had great practices on Sunday

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers practiced for the eighth time in ten days Sunday, and the team did everything they could to keep the energy up. Sunday felt like one of those “dog days” where you’re trying to make it out of practice unscathed. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for the Niners.

Jas covered the three injuries that happened at practice. The first injury was to Dee Ford. It happened during 1-on-1’s when Ford was going up against Mike McGlinchey. It looked like Ford’s calf or ankle. He was trying to run off the injury during the session. Once that didn’t work, Ford decided to shut it down.

The most-significant injury happened to Ross Reynolds, who was playing center and was rolled up on. It didn’t take long for the team to bring the cart out. When that happens, you know the injury is bad. Trent Williams and McGlinchey were the first two players to run out and greet Reynolds. Here’s McGlinchey on Reynolds:

“Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looked, and we can say our prayers for Ross today on the Lord’s Day, and hopefully, it all turns out OK, and we get him back as fast as we can.”

The last injury came to first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk, who ran a deep route down the sideline and reached for his hamstring. The team didn’t announce how severe the injury was. When it happened, I didn’t think anything of it, but Aiyuk did not return.

Nick Bosa sat out for the second day in a row. Richard Sherman did not practice, either. We can chalk those up to “maintenance” days. Jordan Reed stretched with the team for the first time on Sunday, but he did not participate in any individual or team drills.

Offense

Quarterback

The backups looked like backups once again. Nick Mullens hit Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles right in the numbers on a pass over the middle.

Jimmy Garoppolo continues to throw a nice deep ball. He is letting his receivers run underneath his passes, which is nice to see. His touch down the sideline has dramatically improved since last season. Another positive note is Garoppolo is working through his progressions. He found Aiyuk, his third read on the play, for the first down on a curl route.

Jimmy G did misfire on throws to Jerick McKinnon and Trent Taylor today. Taylor snuck behind the defense on one deep route and was wide open, but Jimmy missed him. Taylor threw his arms up in disbelief, wondering why he didn’t get the ball thrown to him. As for McKinnon, he and Garoppolo still aren’t on the same page. That will be something to monitor as we get into the season.

Running back

Mostert continues to receive the bulk of the carries, and let’s hope it stays that way when the season starts. His patience, vision, and speed make Mostert a threat every time he touches the ball. He had a few nice cutback runs today.

As for McKinnon, when he’s 1-on-1 with a linebacker, it’s stealing for the offense. I feel like you could tell the linebackers what McKinnon’s running and he’d still get open. He’s been consistently winning on “Texas” routes over the middle. Today, he beat Fred Warner on a deep route, but Garoppolo overthrew him. It was a great play design to get McKinnon 1-on-1, and he would have easily scored.

After the UDFA’s put the ball on the ground Saturday, Jeff Wilson saw extended action on Sunday. Neither JaMaycal Hasty nor Salvon Ahmed received a rep with the backups.

Wide receivers

Before he went down, Aiyuk was active. At this point, he looks more like the player taken at No. 13 than Javon Kinlaw. Aiyuk is easily the 49ers’ best deep threat, but he knows how to get open underneath, too.

Jamar Taylor has to be tired of guarding Trent Taylor after this week. Taylor was often open during Sunday’s practice. There’s a reason he’s catching the eyes of his teammates and coaches.

Dante Pettis and Shawn Poindexter rotated in occasionally with the starters. At this point, I’d give the nod to Poindexter if it came down between him and Jauan Jennings. Poindexter beat Jason Verrett on a nice “sting” route or corner-post, but he wasn’t targeted. Poindexter is a big-bodied receiver who had a couple of nice catches over the middle of the field as well.

Pettis had a step on Dontae Johnson down the sideline, but he dropped the pass. Those are the type of mistakes he can’t afford to make.

Tight end

George Kittle only participated in the first team session and sat out after that, so we got an extended look at Charlie Woerner, who didn’t make any notable plays, but wasn’t making any egregious errors, either.

With Ross Dwelley and Reed not practicing, the 49ers tried out tight ends Caleb Repp and Erik Swoope.

Offensive line

Like Kittle, Trent Williams sat out most of the team drills. Neither is injured.

The biggest issue today came at right guard, where Tom Compton and Colton McKivitz manned the position. Compton had a lot of issues and was getting beat left and right. McKivitiz eventually came in for him.

Defense

Defensive line

Without sounding hyperbolic, Solomon Thomas made a strong argument for the best player on the field today. He has a plan as a pass rusher and isn’t running straight into guys hoping to win with athleticism. Thomas’s hand usage has come a long way. Could that be attributed to his competition? Sure, but he beat Laken Tomlinson a couple of times, which isn’t easy. Thomas made three tackles in the backfield during team periods, and also had a stop near the line of scrimmage. What position? 3-tech. Odd, I know.

Kerry Hyder beat Mike McGlinchey on the second play of team drills for a would-be sack. Hyder isn’t the type of guy that will win in 1-on-1’s, but he’s going to make the roster because he’s the “steady Eddie” type of player every defensive line needs.

Kinlaw’s hand usage needs refinement. He’s trying to bull-rush everyone and walk guys back. That’s not going to work in the NFL. You could sense Kinlaw’s frustration from his body language. He wasn’t winning, and it showed. Kinlaw has lined up as the technique, where he remains a great anchor.

Linebacker

In Solly was the player of the day, Kwon Alexander wasn’t too far behind. Alexander made a flurry of plays to end the practice. He had a big hit in the backfield that led to him jawing with the offense. He was in man coverage against Kendrick Bourne, who was running a deep corner route on the next play. Alexander played the route beautifully, got his head around, and knocked the pass away. Celebrations ensued.

Cornerback

If I were to rank the best players during practice: Thomas, Kwon, and Emmanuel Moseley. The offense tried to hit Aiyuk on two go routes, but Moseley, from press coverage, ran stride for stride and contested both throws. Moseley does a great job of pinning the wideout to the sideline, so there’s no room for him to make a play. Moseley also understands how to play the sticks. On a third down, he ran Pettis’s comeback for him.

Ahkello Witherspoon was much better on Sunday, and that’s likely due to how Saturday’s practice ended. Witherspoon was jawing with the offense, jumping routes, and looked like the player who began the 2019 season.

Jason Verrett is still a little gun shy to jump routes. That’s the biggest difference between him and Moseley, and that’s why I give Moseley a leg up in the cornerback competition. Verrett did have a nice pass breakup on Poindexter.

Safeties

I wish I could record how the safeties look during team drills. If so, we wouldn’t even discuss bringing in Earl Thomas. The 49ers run this throwback type of play that isolates a receiver, and Jimmie Ward showed off the type of range Thomas is lauded for and broke up the pass. He had to cover 15 yards when the ball was in the air.

Underneath, Jaquiski Tartt had a nice pass breakup where he read Garoppolo’s eyes, got to the flat, and made a play. Tartt did get beaten on a route by Woerner, but I’d give Woerner credit.