So far, so good, for Dee Ford. Hey, Nick Bosa, it’s your turn. I’m ready to see Jalen Hurd work with the 1’s and the 2’s and not just on the backside of the formation.
1. Defensive end Dee Ford.
Did not participate in 1-on-1 pass rush drills, but played extensively during 11 on 11s and recorded one sack. Ford has looked good in camp and has not taken any “maintenance days” to rest, which means the 49ers have increased his workload daily and so far he has responded well. Shocking.
2. Defensive tackle Kentavius Street.
Beat starting left guard Laken Tomlinson twice during 1 on 1s. Tomlinson is the guard whom Javon Kinlaw could not beat last year during this drill, which means Street currently is a better pass rusher than Kinlaw.
3. Defensive tackle D.J. Jones.
Beat starting center Alex Mack with a rip move during 1 on 1s. Jones didn’t have to strain too hard to win this matchup.
There is a right and wrong side to this. Aiyuk IS the 49ers best punt returner and Shanahan knows this. That has been evident since training camp last season when Aiyuk would get some reps in there. Aiyuk is just so elusive and smart with the ball in his hands that he would help the 49ers avoid negative yardage like they did so many times last year.
Yet, for whatever reason, Shanahan refuses to give Aiyuk some punt returns. Aiyuk could be the difference of breaking a tie in a game or potentially providing a spark with a sweet return. Shanahan doesn’t have to give him the full-time role, but plenty of head coaches are allowing their best player to get looks as a punt returner. The only real concern here that is obvious is exposure to injury.
- Jalen Hurd saw full-team reps for the first time of camp. The wideout participated in limited reps while taking part in 11-on-11 drills.
“(Hurd) and Dee Ford, they are about on the same rep count,” Shanahan said post-practice. “I don’t think he was at the point of contact a bunch, but it was good to get him out there in some live reps. I think he was on the backside a number of times. I think he had a good slant, but I’ll see the film. It was good to just get him out there and get some team reps. And we got through it and keep stacking those days.”
It sounds like Sherfield could be a virtual lock to make the roster, but his emergence as a receiver is a little unexpected. In three seasons with the Cardinals he caught only 28 balls for 340 yards and one touchdown while seeing his offensive snaps dip each year.
Shanahan credited special teams coordinator Richard Hightower for vouching for Sherfield as a pass-catcher, but Hightower deflected credit to the front office.
His fellow wide receivers might be even more excited to have their favorite resource back.
“I love Mo,” Brandon Aiyuk said. “Mo is somebody that I gravitated toward early, from the first day he came into the building last season.”
Added Deebo Samuel: “Me and (Aiyuk) were kind of upset last year when they cut Sanu because he was the vet in the room. He’d been in there for a while. He teaches us the ins and outs of the game, not only just football.”
The 49ers released Sanu last season just a few weeks after they signed him, but the veteran understood it was just business. So when the team made him another offer this offseason, he didn’t hesitate to take it.
For Young, three consecutive playoff losses to the Packers — who were led by Holmgren, previously Young’s QB coach both in college at BYU and with the 49ers — were painful reminders that even an exhilarating climb could be followed by a discouraging descent.
“Dallas was a rivalry, but it wasn’t like playing your brother,” Young said. “This was a family fight. The Hatfields and the McCoys, that was us and the Cowboys. But those Packer fights, it was incestuous. Everyone who was over there, I knew, they knew, we all knew — we ran the same plays.
“It was like losing to your brother in the street.”
“We’ve been playing against him, having to block him, having to just deal with him in Arizona,” Hightower said. “He’s a really good player on special teams. And really what’s crazy about that is you always respect the player from afar, but he’s a guy that’s in here at 5:30 every morning, that’s in the steam room, taking care of his body. He’s in the sauna. He does extra. He’s a pro’s pro. He’s bringing guys along. There is no secret.
“Now being around the guy, he fits right into our culture and we’re really happy to have him.”