The first week of padded practice gave us our first look at the San Francisco 49ers and their 2020 rookie class. The Niners are in a position where they don’t have to rely on their rookies, or so they thought. Thanks to injuries mounting up, San Francisco could have three rookies start Week 1. Let’s take a look at how the first week of practice went for each.
DT Javon Kinlaw
Kinlaw’s pass rush appears to be a work in progress after the first week of pads. During 1-on-1’s, Kinlaw flashed a nice “rip” move, but in team drills, Kinlaw struggled to push the pocket and win cleanly as a pass rusher. I’m not too worried, as Kinlaw dominated at the highest level in college. If he came into training camp as a polished pass rusher, that would’ve been a surprise.
Against the run, Kinlaw looks like a top pick. The offensive line has struggled to block Kinlaw on running plays. Kinlaw is strong as an ox, as D.J. Jones put it. Everyone has mentioned how massive a human Kinlaw is, and his size shows up against the run. Kinlaw continuously reset the line of scrimmage. He’ll have an immediate impact versus the run.
WR Brandon Aiyuk
Aiyuk has been impressive for a player learning three positions on the fly. I love his usage early on. We’ve seen Aiyuk on curls, in-breaking routes, vertical routes, and even jet sweeps. The only other player that is capable of winning on each of those routes is Deebo Samuel. Aiyuk will need to become more consistent. There were a few throws down the field he didn’t hold onto. After one week, what was promising from Aiyuk is that he attacked the ball over the middle and with bodies around him.
He’s not there yet, but it’s clear as day that Aiyuk will be a threat in this offense.
OL Colton McKivitz
McKivitz looks like a fifth-rounder. There are flashes where he’ll hold up against a quality defensive linemen, but those are followed up with plays where McKivitz looks out of his depth, whether that’s because of lack of strength or beaten by a quality move. McKivitz has an outside chance to start and could make the roster thanks to some injuries along the interior offensive line. For now, McKivitz would be better suited for the practice squad as he gets used to the talent in the NFL. His versatility may force the Niners’ hand to have McKivitz on the active roster.
TE Charlie Woerner
Woerner hasn’t gotten much action as a receiver. Until Saturday, he had one target all week. Woerner moves better than you’d expect, but I wouldn’t count on him being active in the 49ers passing game. He was drafted to be an extra blocker, and that’s where Woerner excels. On Sunday, Woerner saw extended action with the first team as George Kittle sat out of team drills. Woerner is worlds better as a blocker than any tight end that’s been on the roster the past couple of seasons not named Kittle.
WR Jauan Jennings
Based on a week of practice, I don’t think Jennings would make the roster come Week 1. His lack of athleticism shows up when he has to beat man coverage. Speaking of his lack of athleticism, Jennings caught a crossing route where he could have turned up the field, but his momentum took Jennings out of bounds. It’s not that Jennings has been bad, it’s that he hasn’t done enough to make a name for himself after the first week. Shawn Poindexter, Tavon Austin, and J.J. Nelson have all looked better.
JaMychal Hasty has the best chance to make the roster, but a fumbled exchange on Saturday led to Hasty receiving zero reps on Sunday. Hasty is quick and made defenders look bad in the open field. I’m not sure he did enough to make the roster so far, however.
Nose tackle Darrion Daniels had an inside track to make the team, but with Kinlaw moving inside to play nose tackle/1-technique along with Solomon Thomas, there isn’t a spot for Daniels.
None of the other UDFA’s have really stood out. Jared Mayden from Alabama has been playing cornerback. The team may try to keep him around on the practice squad. Chase Harrell has a way to go at tight end. As with most UDFA’s, the consistency isn’t there.
Kinlaw and Aiyuk will define this class.