The 49ers had eight players sit out during Tuesday’s practice. The good news is everyone who was healthy participated. That includes Fred Warner, who has every right to sit out as he’s in line for a new contract.
Shanahan pointed out this is his 18th set of OTAs since he entered the NFL, and the first without getting a conditioning program in the weeks beforehand. So he’s still feeling out who’s in shape and who isn’t, who is good for a heavy workload and who should take it easy with training camp roughly two months away.
“So that’s what made me really nervous in terms of just putting this guys out there,” he said. “And that’s why we’ve had to take some reps away and hopefully we’ll get to normal OTAs next week.”
There were not OTAs or conditioning programs last offseason, leading to training camp beginning with two weeks of conditioning in August before a truncated training camp before the start of the regular season. It’s unclear if that setup factored into the 49ers’ injury woes, but it appears the team is focused on getting work in early to avoid a repeat of 2020.
“He looks a little bit better than a rookie quarterback,” Kittle said. “He’s out there, he’s slinging it. I was really excited yesterday — he made an awesome throw on a play-action. He found my rookie (tight end) Josh Pederson on a far-corner is what we call it on a rollout, which is like the last guy you throw it to on the play. The fact that he found him in his first ever rollout pretty cool. Just seeing him out there and trying to figure it out.”
Kittle added that Lance’s ability to make that type of decision in his early days of learning head coach Kyle Shanahan’s complicated offense is a positive sign.
“A lot of the same conversations we had with Justin Fields, hasn’t played as much football, but I love the top-end talent, and there is more consistency with Trey Lance’s throwing,” Simms said. “His arm, like a Justin Fields too, it’s really powerful, really powerful. And I would say, really in a lot of ways, more powerful than Justin Fields because there is a little more consistency with the mechanics and controlling of the football to where he can throw it hard and still control it. Fields can throw it hard, and sometimes control it, other times you’re going, ‘Oh no that’s not good.’
“So that’s the reason Lance is in front of Fields, but yes I still have questions with the lack of playing time, the mechanical issues, the consistency hitting some passes that you go, ‘Wait, hey you’re the No. 3 pick in the draft, I’m not supposed to see that many where the guy had to go to the ground or turn around or we just missed that throw all together. Those are the things I just have to see improve a little bit before I can make these guys top 25-type talents in the NFL.”
“I’m a huge fan of Trey, just watching him in the playoffs and the Big Ten Championship game,” Kittle told reporters Tuesday. “He’s such an aggressive runner. He’s a big body. He just likes to run through people, but he still has a finesse to his game, which is awesome to see. He’s a fast guy that runs downhill, and I love that in this offense.”
Mitchell wasn’t as widely publicized in college as Sermon, having split carries at the University of Louisiana. He finished his senior season with 878 yards and eight touchdowns on 141 carries. But he seems to be showing well in Santa Clara so far, which is good news given the injury situation.
“Elijah’s been great. Just seeing the routes and the reps that he’s gotten running the rock, he looks really good too,” Kittle said.
Defensive back: The big news at this spot involves Tarvarius Moore. When the 2020 season ended, Moore said he wanted to add some bulk to better handle the rigors of playing strong safety. He succeeded. Moore added 10 pounds over the past five months, and the naturally lean and lanky defensive back looked visibly stronger when he lined up on Tuesday.
Jimmie Ward and Moore were the first-team safeties. The second-team duo was Kai Nacua at free safety and fifth-round rookie Talanoa Hufanga at strong safety. The first-team cornerbacks were Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley. The second-teamers — and also the biggest cornerbacks on the team — were Tim Harris and Dontae Johnson.