In today’s Shanaplan podcast, Kyle Posey and Akash Anavarathan decided to zoom out and take a big-picture view of what we’ve seen after the first week of training camp.
Stock Up: Trey Sermon and Jordan Mason
“If you didn’t know any better,” Kyle said, “You would think that Trey Sermon and Jordan Mason were the best running backs on the team. Whenever Jordan Mason touches the ball, it’s like, ‘Woah.’ It’s going to be very hard to keep him off this roster. Trey Sermon looks bigger and more decisive. I’m looking forward to watching them in the preseason.”
Pretty much nothing went right for Trey Sermon last season. On the very first carry of his professional career, he was crushed by the Philadelphia Eagles, fumbled the ball, and suffered a concussion. He would go on to tally just 40 carries over the rest of a disappointing rookie season. Coaches also said Sermon needed to change his running style last season. The thousand-mile journey out of the doghouse begins with a single step, so here’s hoping.
As for Mason, our own Jordan Elliott pointed Mason out five months ago as someone to watch in training camp.
“Mason is an extremely physical runner who broke a tackle on an eye-popping 44% of his rushing attempts in 2021, which ranked him first in the nation last season. In addition to that, Mason averaged 4.4 yards after contact per rush, which was eighth-best in the nation in 2021.”
Stock Down: Ambry Thomas
Here’s more from Kyle:
“Everybody who has been in camp would agree that it’s Ambry Thomas. He’s the guy that is getting burned. Whenever you see these Danny Gray plays, it is because of Ambry Thomas. He cannot stay with Danny Gray, and even if he is staying with Gray, he can’t find the ball in the air. Malik Turner got him on a deep pass earlier this week. Jauan Jennings, who I just mentioned can’t separate, separated from Ambry Thomas. If we were keeping stats on him this training camp, it would not look pretty.”
Thomas’ roster spot is likely secure due to his selection in the third round a year ago, but that is not a good sign from someone we all hoped was simply rusty after not playing football in 2020 and 12 games last year.
Stock Up: Spencer Burford
Burford has been the right guard for every first-team rep in training camp. That alone is pretty impressive.
“He has the mobility to play the position,” Akash said, “It sounds like everyone has been pretty impressed with his performance so far. Just holding up in one-on-one reps, taking all the first-team reps in team drills, he’s going up against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, and he seems to be holding up pretty well...It’s early, but we’ll get better insight with the combined team practices with Minnesota and the preseason games...Honestly, if you can get a starting right guard out of a fourth-round pick, that’s pretty, pretty good.”
Burford's head above water at right guard would also allow the 49ers to put a veteran like Jake Brendel or Daniel Brunskill at center, which is Kyle Shanahan’s preference. That would bookend every inexperienced player on the offensive line with veteran players who would be able to help them along.
Stock Down: Kerry Hyder
His 8.5 sacks two years ago were a pleasant surprise, but KP says other guys on the roster have shone brighter than him this year.
“I don’t know if Kerry Hyder has done enough to make the team. He has been playing more inside than outside, but I think they can get by with Charles Omenihu doing that...I don’t know what Hyder does better than [Robert Nkemdiche and Kemoko Turay], so he would be the odd man out.”
The 49ers have probably the deepest defensive line in the NFL, and right now, there doesn’t appear to be a place for Hyder to try and repeat his 2020 success.
Download today’s Shanaplan to hear the complete list, find out the full context behind yesterday’s brawl, and get an update on the progress of Trey Lance!