Today is the day. It’s the day we can confirm all of our priors. That should be the last thing on your mind. Enjoy today. It’s been since January that we’ve seen the team in action. Think about the last time it’s been since you saw a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo?
Also, use context. If the offense goes three-and-out, it’s not all on Jimmy. If Lance takes a sack, it could be because the receiver ran the wrong route. You could go down the roster and do this for every position.
The 49ers play a preseason football game today. Enjoy it for what it is. Which 49er are you looking forward to seeing the most tonight? I want to see how the rookie running backs contribute to passing downs — whether that means catching the ball or blocking.
After spending a day here and talking with players and sources on and off the record, I feel confident that’s not the case. Lance still has plenty to learn, and Garoppolo is their best option at quarterback right now.
Both Garoppolo and Lance led their respective offenses to touchdowns during their 2-minute period. But Garoppolo was just — simply — better. And as much as one practice doesn’t put Jimmy G in the Super Bowl like one practice doesn’t have David Baker readying to knock on Trey Lance’s door for entry into the Hall of Fame, it was obvious who the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers was on Thursday.
Lance is the future, no doubt. But the future isn’t now.
Making the cut (10): Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Samson Ebukam, D.J. Jones, Dee Ford, Maurice Hurst, Arden Key, Kevin Givens, Kentavius Street
The post-draft projection did not have Ford on the team due to all the concerns about his physical condition. But, now, he is looking good. Ford is on pace to be a major factor as a situational pass rusher. The toughest call is Kerr, who will undoubtedly be in the NFL — for the 49ers or some other team — this season. But with a deep group of interior linemen who are mostly two-down players, it makes more sense to keep younger guys as part of their D-line rotation.
One throw does not a roster spot make, but it’s noteworthy that Sudfeld is making plays like that while Rosen simultaneously appears to be losing ground.
Generally position battles don’t come down to preseason games, but it feels like those contests are going to be significant for both Sudfeld and Rosen in their quest for the third QB job. On the other hand, if Sudfeld keeps coming up with highlight plays, he may just steal the job in practice.
1. Wide receiver Jalen Hurd.
Caught three passes, which tripled his output of one catch through the first 12 days of camp. Hurd quickly became a favorite target of Trey Lance, who has spent most of camp throwing to Trent Sherfield. If Hurd stays healthy through preseason, he probably will make the team. You can’t deny his talent.
2. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
While some starters took the day off (more on them below), Aiyuk played with the first-team, second-team and third-team offenses, and caught a team-high five passes, including a touchdown throw from Jimmy Garoppolo. Aiyuk had a terrific camp and did not get injured.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan relayed the story while discussing the team’s current WR group during his press conference after Thursday’s practice:
I mean, Bourne didn’t have the best camp and he was on the outside looking in. And then Jalen was hurt and Trent Taylor got hurt. So, we kept Bourne, but if everyone had been healthy, it would have been hard for Bourne to make the team. But we kept him because a couple of guys were hurt. Then Week 4, I’m expecting to get them back and the injuries are a lot worse for Trent and Jalen than we thought. And damn I’m glad I didn’t cut Bourne Week 1 because he ended up being our most consistent guy for the following two years. That’s the stress of injuries and trying to take care of these guys because you know how good they are, but you’ve also got to know what that final 53 means.