On Tuesday morning, the atmosphere was electric in Santa Clara as the 49ers had their first padded practice of this year's training camp. The main attraction was a Trey Lance deep ball to Trent Sherfield that resulted in a touchdown, but the offensive line was the real star of the show on Tuesday, as the unit absolutely dominated the 11-on-11 portion of practice. I’ll break down a few of the players who really stood out to me.
- Alex Mack was clearly the best player on the field Tuesday. On his first rep during 11-on-11’s, Mack pancaked Javon Kinlaw, and the two engaged in a minor tussle following the play in the first real chippy exchange of camp. Mack followed that up with another dominating rep against Kinlaw and finished practice with multiple pancakes of first-team interior defensive lineman.
Mack’s veteran savvy was on full display Tuesday, and his experience will pay great dividends for Kinlaw’s development as the two engage in one on one battles in the trenches over the course of camp. The interior of the offensive line looked as strong as it has in years, and the unit as a whole looks extremely stable, with Mack anchoring the middle.
- Trent Sherfield has had an exceptional start to training camp, and he continued his upward trajectory with an outstanding performance in Tuesday's practice. With Deebo Samuel sitting out with groin tightness, Sherfield got extended looks with the first team.
He put his speed on display and presented a strong case for how he could potentially be used as a weapon in a scheme that has relied on receivers with substantial run after the catch ability. Sherfield also offers plus value on special teams as a player who has experience returning punts at the NFL level. Sherfield has made a strong case that he deserves a spot on the final 53 man roster.
- Jalen Hurd was in pads and participated in the 11-on-11 drills. Hurd did not get targeted during 11-on-11’s, but he looked fluid and unencumbered as he ran his routes. With a dynamic receiving duo leading the way, the 49ers don’t need Hurd to take on a major role this season, but if he can remain healthy, he becomes an intriguing option in the red zone and on third downs.
- DJ Jones continues to build on his strong start to camp. Jones has impressed during 11-on-11 drills. Jones batted down a ball at the line of scrimmage and also had a couple of dominant reps defending the run, including a play where he drove Daniel Brunskill to the ground as he crashed the line of scrimmage and blew up a running play for no gain.
- Jason Verrett continues to look like a shut-down defensive back. However, he looks strong during drills and had another great performance in 11-on-11 drills, including a couple of reps won in his head-to-head matchups with Brandon Aiyuk.
- Dee Ford participated in a substantial amount of reps during 11-on-11s and has shown flashes of his former explosive self. The 49ers are being cautious with Ford’s workload. Still, there is a reason for cautious optimism that Ford can be a major weapon for this defensive line, particularly in pass rush specific situations.