The San Francisco 49ers are off today after Friday’s scrimmage. Jason Verrett reportedly had a good day, but was that enough to start?
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: IF HEALTHY, JASON VERRETT SHOULD START OPPOSITE OF RICHARD SHERMAN
Here we go again.
After battling a slew of injuries over the past few years that have limited him to only 67 snaps since Week 5 of the 2016 season, Verrett is healthy and reportedly impressing at ‘Niners camp. If he stays healthy, I’m all in on him starting opposite of Sherman in the loaded San Francisco defense.
Verrett was limited to only 156 coverage snaps in his 2014 rookie campaign due to injury but managed to produce a solid 82.5 coverage grade. In his only (mostly) healthy season in 2015, Verrett produced the highest PFF coverage grade (90.9) among cornerbacks. Should you expect him to be healthy? No. Should you expect him to play that well again if healthy? No. But the risk-reward with starting Verrett is far higher than starting Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon.
1. Tight End Jordan Reed.
Every quarterback’s go-to receiver today because George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel are injured and didn’t practice. Even when those three return, Reed will be a go-to guy in the 49ers passing game when healthy because he’s the best route runner on the team and he has great hand-eye coordination. Today, he made five catches for 45 yards, and caught Jimmy Garoppolo’s only touchdown pass of the morning. Look for Garoppolo to throw Reed lots of passes in the red zone and on third down this season.
3. Wide Receiver Dante Pettis.
Caught three passes for 37 yards during team drills. His best catch was a 17-yarder over the middle. He ran a dig route and beat Richard Sherman. It’s clear the 49ers want Pettis to become a starter while Aiyuk and Samuel are out. And at least for today, Pettis rose up.
7. Guard Colton McKivitz.
Beat Kentavius Street, Kevin Givens and Darrion Daniels every time he faced them during one-on-one pass-rush drills. McKivitz is so much better than veteran guard Tom Compton, it’s not even funny. McKivitz hasn’t officially beat out Compton to become the starter yet, though. Should be a mere matter of time.
9. Defensive Tackle Solomon Thomas.
Starting to win more consistently during one on ones. Today he even beat starting left guard Laken Tomlinson with a bull rush. That was a first for Thomas. He’s more powerful than he used to be, plus he has added an inside counter move that’s effective. I expect he’ll get lots of playing time on third downs this season.
10. Defensive Tackle Kevin Givens.
Lined up at defensive end during one on ones and beat backup offensive tackle Justin Skule both times they faced each other. Also beat McKivitz once for a sack during team drills. As well as Thomas has played in camp, Givens has played even better.
“It was good to get Jordan out there more than he’s been out there,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said after practice on Friday inside of Levi’s Stadium.
“It was probably his most reps, at least back-to-back reps. He made some good plays – some obvious ones you guys saw and missed a couple, also.”
Reed caught five passes for 46 yards during the team’s practice sessions. He found a hole in the 49ers’ defense between cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Jaquiski Tartt for a 5-yard catch from Jimmy Garoppolo.
Reed, 30, already appears to be in good position to win a roster spot with the 49ers this season if he can just remain healthy.
Team statements and supportive slogans painted on a basketball court or baseball diamond or, dare we say, an NFL field, never would be enough. Nor would T-shirts and messages on the backs of NBA jerseys. These are all league-approved allowances.
None of these gestures was meant to attack systemic racism. They do, perhaps inadvertently, illustrate the righteousness of the decision Kaepernick made in 2016, when he staged a solemn, peaceful protest of this country’s discriminatory practices.
As others were villainizing his message, those seeking the truth always knew what Kaepernick wanted. Nothing more than what John Brown and Frederick Douglass sought nearly two centuries ago. Nothing more than what Malcolm X and Dr. King and Muhammad Ali chased with a vengeance in the 1960s and ‘70s. To be afforded the same rights as their white brothers.
Pettis’ punt returns: Shanahan has said his criterion at punt returner — which is currently unsettled for the 49ers — is the ability to field the ball cleanly on every attempt. Dante Pettis had the role of primary punt returner Friday and he flubbed his first try. With a gunner bearing down on him early in practice, Mitch Wishnowsky’s punt bounced off Pettis’ chest and fell to the ground.
Pettis handled his other attempts — a fair catch and a return — cleanly. However, his initial miscue will be a demerit as the team tries to figure out who will return punts against the Cardinals. The 49ers’ primary return man from last season, Richie James (wrist), will miss half the season. That leaves Pettis, Trent Taylor, Austin and Aiyuk as the top candidates.
Otherwise, Pettis had a good practice. With Samuel and Aiyuk out, Pettis and Bourne are the de facto starting receivers. Pettis caught several short throws from Garoppolo as well as one on a deep crossing pattern in traffic.