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Day 4 recap: Trey trends upwards while the defense does it again

The secondary looks comfortable and the defensive line is everywhere

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The fans were back at practice Saturday, which meant more energy for the players to feed off. Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey went through the majority of practice, as did Javon Kinlaw.

With both offensive tackles back in the fold, it’s no surprise that Trey Lance had more time in the pocket. Here’s a recap from Day 4 at 49ers practice.

Trey trends upward

Let’s start with the offense. We can start at quarterback, too. Nate Sudfeld might have as many interceptions as completions, and I wish I were exaggerating. The defense tees off when he’s under center.

Saturday was another multiple interception day for Sudfeld, who had his fair share of passes broken up by the defense. It’s excellent practice for the defensive backs, though.

As for Trey, if you were to watch him in warm-ups and individual drills, you’d cover your eyes or look away in disgust, wondering what’s wrong. Instead, the further along practice goes, the more comfortable Lance looks.

I had him 8-for-14 with a few sacks. One of Lance’s final throws was the Jimmy Garoppolo special: Lance threw an underneath pass over the middle, only to be intercepted by Fred Warner, who has a knack for the football.

Warner also forced an incompletion with his infamous “peanut punch” on George Kittle. He’s a hell of a player. Context is vital when discussing completion percentage, which is why I mention that play.

On another play, Jimmie Ward broke up a pass against Ty Davis-Price on a ball that hit TDP in the hands. Lance’s final throw came on a “glance” route — think 10-12 yard post — to Brandon Aiyuk. It was a completion, but the ball was behind him, and Aiyuk had to turn and make an acrobatic catch.

All that is to say, completions and attempts hardly tell what happened during practice without an explanation.

Speaking of Aiyuk, he’s a superb athlete. He laid out and made a spectacular catch down the field to end practice. Outside of one focus drop Friday, Aiyuk has seemingly caught every pass his way in contested situations.

If there’s a takeaway from Lance’s performance, it’s that he’s more comfortable and accurate throwing the ball down the field. Four of his eight completions would have been explosive plays.

Lance’s mechanics remain inconsistent. One throw, he’ll have an over-the-top delivery. On the next, it’ll be more of a three-quarters throw. Lance’s feet are removed from the equation on deep passes or rollout throws. Thus, the reason his throws are on target. Once Lance cuts the fat out of his footwork, and his upper body and feet are synced, the 49ers will have a special quarterback.

Defense does it again

During the final team period session, Nick Bosa beat Mike McGlinchey for two would-be sacks on two different moves.

I mentioned both plays Warner made earlier. The secondary continues to have a leg up on the wideouts. Charvarius Ward has the recovery speeded necessary for an elite cornerback. He showed that speed off against Ray-Ray McCloud on a deep post where Ward appeared to be a step behind and caught up to make an interception.

Tarvarius Moore had himself a day. He picked off two passes, one coming downhill and another turning and running over his shoulder. Moore did give up an explosive play down the sideline when he was guarding Kittle 1-on-1, but I’ll take two turnovers every day of the week.

Some of the quarterbacks’ miscues or check-downs are directly tied to their first read being covered. For example, Lance wanted Danny Gray on a deep comeback, but Emmanuel Moseley didn’t give him anywhere to throw the ball. That led to the completion to the running back.

Drake Jackson had a would-be sack, but Robert Nkemdiche may have been the most active defensive lineman today. He lived in the backfield and looked like a player who would snag a roster spot.

The only thing stopping Nkemdiche is doing it the 49er way. For the second time this week, Kyle Shanahan screamed at him for coming close to rolling up one of the players. One of the biggest coaching points this week is to keep the players up.

Overall, the Niners’ defense had four interceptions today. They’re all over, from the pass rush getting after the quarterback to the secondary blanketing the wideouts. It’s important to remember that the offense is going up against an elite defense.

The second year under DeMeco Ryans looks promising. We’re seeing more single-high looks from the defense, and that could be thanks to having a CB1 such as Charvarius Ward. That’ll allow the defense to challenge offenses and dare them to throw the ball down the field.