The 49ers returned to the practice field following a scheduled day off on Sunday. I was on hand to watch, and here are a few of my notes from Monday’s practice.
- The first team defensive line consists of a base set of Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw, DJ Jones, and Arik Armstead.
This is clearly the grouping of four that the defensive staff feels has the best ability to be stout against the run while still having the ability to pressure quarterbacks on early downs.
- Kentavius Street and Kevin Givens joined the first-team defense during a walkthrough of sub package blitzes with Bosa and Dee Ford flanking them at the edge positions. Givens and Street have looked extremely impressive to start camp, and it appeared they were being given reps with the primary Turbo unit (pass-rushing specialists).
- First-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans had his defensive backs working on bringing pressure from numerous exotic looks. Expect Ryans to be a bit more creative with his blitz packages than the 49ers were under Robert Saleh.
- Azeez Al-Shaair has been a standout throughout training camp and was well on the way to having another fantastic practice before he was forced to leave with a knee injury he suffered during the tail end of 11 on 11s. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he was “optimistic” regarding the injury as the team awaits imaging results to determine the severity of the injury.
In my opinion, Zach Kerr was the star of the day, bullying offensive lineman during 11 on 11s. He had a particularly impressive pass-rushing rep against Laken Tomlinson. He began with a bull rush and ultimately leveraged Tomlinson off his spot before discarding him to the side and attacking the pocket in pursuit of the quarterback. Kerr is a guy who could be a starter on the majority of teams in the NFL, and the 49ers having him primarily work with the second and third units is a testament to how deep the position group is while also pointing out how strong the starting front four are.
- Fred Warner continues to demonstrate why he was just given a five year 95 million dollar contract, dominating 11 on 11s, including a tackle for loss on a Trey Sermon, carry as well as an interception that was ultimately nullified because of an offsides penalty
- Jimmie Ward looks sharp as ever in coverage, surrendering only one reception during 11 on 11s while blanketing Mohamed Sanu on a ball that was targeting Sanu in the end zone
- Jason Verrett continues to get the better of Brandon Aiyuk in their matchups
- Jimmy Garoppolo had one of the more impressive throws of the day, throwing a dart to Ross Dwelley near the left hash about 15 yards upfield. Ward was blanketing Dwelley for the majority of the rep, and the moment Dwelley won and got the separation he needed, Garoppolo fired it into a tight window for the completion and first down.
- Trey Lance’s rushing ability was once again on full display as the rookie quarterback had his first call of 11 on 11s be a zone-read option.”
- On multiple occasions, when the man coverage took away every receiving option (another change to watch with Ryans is the increase of how frequently his defense will be utilizing man compared to the zone-heavy scheme Saleh deployed) and Lance ended up scrambling from the pocket for a plus gain.
- Lance’s ability as a runner immediately raises the floor of the offense, even if there is a bit of a learning curve with the passing concepts.
- Brandon Aiyuk continues to show out. He has to be mentioned among the best players at any position during this camp.
- Head coach Kyle Shanahan had high praise for wide receiver Deebo Samuel, saying Samuel has come into camp in as good of shape as he’s seen in his three years in the league.
- Strong showing from the running back room today, Raheem Mostert looked like the best running back on the field as he displayed some of his signature world-class speed on a couple of huge gains running the ball
- Trey Lance threw his first interception of camp during red zone drills in the 11 on 11 portions of practice, was a bit late getting the ball out, and linebacker Jonas Griffith made a great play on the ball. Lance’s main issues have been timing (he has been late like he was on the interception quite a few times during camp) and sailing balls too high to receivers (he is improving there but still threw a couple of balls high during Monday’s practice).
- Jimmy Garoppolo has had some impressive throws, but he has had issues consistently stringing more than a couple of them in a row, continues to look hesitant/indecisive at times which he cannot afford to do if he wants to hold on to his starting job considering the objectively large gap in physical talent between himself and Trey Lance