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Day 8 recap: Offense rules the day

For the first time since camp started, the 49ers O got the best of the defense

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

The 49ers finished their practice Friday, where Trey Lance stayed to catch snaps from Daniel Brunskill — who had a poor snap that resulted in a fumble — and throw passes to Ray-Ray McCloud and Deebo Samuel.

The chemistry and timing between Samuel and Lance remain a work in progress, so every rep is necessary as the two play catch up.

There was one play during 11-on-11s where the two didn’t connect on a deep pass. The pass was slightly overthrown. The coverage was perfect by Emmanuel Moseley, and there was no other place for Lance to throw the ball. Still, Samuel and Lance felt it was enough to run routes after practice.

Behind Lance and Samuel were James Morgan, Willie Snead, and two other wide receivers working out. The other wideouts were DeDe Westbrook and Christian Blake. The Niners signed Snead.

Elijah and the line were excellent

Throughout the first week or so of camp, Elijah Mitchell has been mostly non-existent. That changed Friday as the second-year back broke two long runs against the first-team defense. That hasn’t happened at all.

Give credit to the offensive line, as the trio of George Kittle, Trent Williams, and Aaron Banks helped pave the way for Mitchell. But it was Elijah’s decisiveness and speed that were the difference.

Spencer Burford continues to trend upward. He had another effective day. His confidence is starting to show. The 49ers are going into the season with a 22-year-old Day 3 pick playing a different position than the previous year. And he’s holding his own against the best of the best.

Friday was the first day I felt like the offense consistently won against the defense. And Mitchell, along with the line, was a big reason why. Mitchell broke a would-be 90-yard touchdown run. As he ran down the sideline, Williams, Deebo Samuel, and the rest of the line were having some fun and dancing while the play was going on, knowing the defense wasn’t going to catch him.

The offensive highlights have been few and far between, but those are the moments that could give this unit confidence against an elite defense like the 49ers.

TDP was the most consistent back during Friday’s session, but Mitchell’s long runs stole the show. The 49ers have a good problem at running back.

Of course, the backs don’t have success without effective blocking. So is there a direct correlation to the offensive having its best day as Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw, and Arik Armstead all sat out? You bet.

If anything, Friday was a reminder of what this offense would look like against a defense that doesn’t have a defensive line full of first-rounders.

TDP punishes tacklers and his coach

Ty Davis-Price received reps with the first team and had his best day. TDP is one of those runners who gets rolling with the more consecutive carries he gets. He started well, built some confidence, and the game started to slow down for the rookie.

49ers running backs coach Anthony Lynn has been working with Davis-Price on the mental aspect of playing the position:

“I think he’s having a good camp. But he’s a rookie. He has a ways to go. Every week we have meetings where we work on FBI. Football intelligence. Just to get these guys sharper with what we do and the game itself.

I like where he’s at right now. He brings enough physicality to your team with enough wiggle to make you miss.”

Davis-Price made it a point to run through tackles. Earlier in practice this week, he tried to run over Lynn.

When I asked Lynn about what happened during a specific individual drill, he remembered instantly and cut me off, saying, “that would be Ty,” Lynn laughed. “That was intentional. I know doing that drill, backs that I’ve been the hardest on target me. I know that. So I was expecting that from him.”

Trey keeps truckin’ along

Lance is fascinating. At times, there’s a deer in the headlights look. Ask yourself, why wouldn't there be? Lance is going up against a lights-out defense whose play-caller is throwing new looks at him daily.

Lance finished 9-for-13, but his best throws were incompletions, while there was a completion that was a no-no. Shanahan ran a 3-level flood concept to one side. There’s a receiver at 0, 10, and 20+ yards.

The cornerback baits Lance into throwing the route at the line of scrimmage. The pass was caught, but it was dangerously close to a disaster for the offense. On the stat sheet, it counts.

Lance found Malik Turner running open across the middle. If Turner catches the pass, it’s an easy first down, and the offense would move the chains. Instead, Turner drops a pass that hits him in the hands at eye level. Incomplete.

Shanahan is betting on Deebo and Brandon Aiyuk catching the latter while his 22-year-old learns his mistake on the former play. And that’s what makes Lance’s journey a must-see.

Defenses have to defend the quarterback run when the 49ers have an empty backfield. That play caught DeMeco Ryans’ bunch off guard.

Opposing defenses will go from doing everything in their power to take away the middle of the field, as they did against Jimmy Garoppolo, to having to defend route concepts outside of or at the numbers primarily.

On a day where key defensive starters sat out along the defensive line, the offense had its most effective day of training camp. And not in a way where they hit a bunch of deep passes because that didn’t happen.

Friday was the first time you saw the offense sustain success. Lance and Samuel completed a comeback route against Charvarius Ward, who has been stingy throughout camp. Those are the every-down plays that’ll take this offense to another level.

Lance and the offense are starting to scratch the surface of figuring it out. It’ll take some time, but the end result looks well worth the bumps and bruises along the way.