Let’s go through one takeaway at each position and try and reel in some of the hype surrounding certain players and add some context.
Quarterback - Let Lance Cook (against the first-team)
You’ll have an opportunity to watch Trey Lance throw the ball and run fast soon enough. Once that happens, you’ll understand why people are gushing about the 21-year-old. Lance has carved up the second-team defense to the point where he’s putting up video game numbers.
I have Lance going 20-22 during the last two practices, and that’s likely while averaging over ten yards per attempt. He’s slinging it, but it’s time to bump the level of competition up from rookie to All-Madden.
Has Lance been impressive? Undeniably so. The question we’re not asking is whether we’re putting enough weight on the rookie gunslinger doing all of this against the 49ers' backups.
Jimmie Ward, Jason Verrett, and Fred Warner have made life a living hell for the starting offense. There hasn’t been an explosive play allowed. The difference in smarts and speed should challenge Trey, which is precisely what he needs: A new challenge.
If Lance shreds the first-team defense in the same manner as he has the second-team, then the coaches are all out of excuses, and it’s time to prepare the rookie to start games for you.
Running back - A perfect balance
Kyle Shanahan has said the team knows what they have in Raheem Mostert, which is why Trey Sermon has received the bulk of the first-team reps with the starters. The one-two punch reminds me of USC’s backfield in the 2000s with Reggie Bush and LenDale White.
I’m not saying Mostert is going to morph into the most electric player the college game has seen, but it’s clear that his speed presents problems, even for the swift Niners' defense. But, of course, people always forget how good of a player White was, and that’s where Sermon comes into play.
Sermon’s vision instantly stands out, but his balance will allow him to move the chains and turn four and five-yard gains into potential double-digit yards. I remember a run on Wednesday where Sermon took a big hit, and, instead of going down, he puts his hand on the ground, recovers, and keeps going as if nothing happened.
Sermon’s cuts are sharp, and his initial burst through the hole gives the 49ers a strong 1-2 punch. Aside from them, Wayne Gallman feels like RB3, with Elijah Mitchell right behind him.
Offensive line - Return of the Mack
We’re a week into training camp, and it’s evident that the 49ers needed a veteran’s presence in the middle. There has been one free run-through with the starters up the middle while Mack has been the center.
It felt like defenses were running through the middle once a series last season. However, Mack has been excellent, which has taken the heat off the right tackle.
There will be an adjustment period for Mike McGlinchey as he gets used to playing 25 pounds heavier. Early on, No. 69’s whiffs are still painful to watch, and they’ve led to sacks and tackles for loss for the defense. Whether it’s Arden Key or Dee Ford, preventing speed from getting around the edge is still an issue for McGlinchey.
Tight ends - Welcome, George
Before Wednesday, if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought No. 82, Ross Dwelley, was the best tight end on the roster with all the targets and acrobatic catches he made.
Then, we saw George Kittle look like George Kittle as he proved not even two defenders were enough to stop him at times. Kittle enjoys playing the game and cannot wait to let the defense know when he’s made a play.
The trio of Kittle, Dwelley, and Jordan Matthews, who is still learning the ropes, gives Shanahan three guys he can trust at tight end.
Wide receiver - Looking for consistency
Brandon Aiyuk is really, really good, but we expected that. Deebo Samuel is a strong No. 2. After that? The consistency falls off a cliff. Jalen Hurd is still getting his feet wet in team drills as the 49ers take things slow with him.
Trent Sherfield looks good, but he was an outcast in Arizona. Is this training camp hype, or can he actually contribute? Mohamed Sanu got off to a hot start but has cooled since. After those two, I’m not sure anyone can confidently say they’d trust Jimmy Garoppolo throwing them a pass during the regular season.
From Richie James to Austin Watkins, the rest of the bunch of some work to do to prove to the coaches they’re worthy of a roster spot. It may not matter, as Kittle-Aiyuk-Samuel + the running game will be enough to put up points, but the depth around them has to improve.