The 49ers held their second padded practice Tuesday, but the intensity took a step back as Wednesday is a day off. There was a bit of a lull compared to Monday. But that doesn’t mean the aggression wasn’t there. We’ll get to that in a second. Jordan Elliott will comment on the defense.
Unfortunately, swing tackle Jaylon Moore went down on the field during one of the team periods. Moore attempted to limp off the field, but the team brought the cart out for him. That’s a tough blow as Moore was primed to make the 53-man roster. Hopefully, the injury isn’t too serious. We’ll provide an update as soon as the 49ers have one.
Off to a good start upfront
The offensive line was a pleasant surprise to start practice. No matter who the running back was, they had lanes to run through. That hasn’t been the case during the past couple of days.
Line play is about consistency and cohesion. Guards Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford, and center Jake Brendel all get a second year in a row to play together. That’s paying dividends. On Monday, Banks said Brendel is seeing the same looks he is that the defense presents, so he’s no longer having to call out what the defense is doing.
Through the first two periods, each quarterback had plenty of time to throw the ball. We should acknowledge the tight ends helping out, as Charlie Woerner had to hold up on a play-action pass against Drake Jackson for Brock Purdy to get a throw off against the defense.
There were four false starts on offense, as Trent Williams and George Kittle jumped on the first two plays. That’s something they’d like to clean up, so it doesn’t want to become a habit.
At one point, it felt too good to be true with how well the line was blocking. Throughout the day, there were multiple occasions where each quarterback was able to get to their third or fourth progression in the read. That’s a testament to how well the blocking held up all day.
The defensive line must’ve gotten chewed out by Kris Kocurek after two periods, as they began the third with three straight plays in the backfield. Newly signed Taco Charlton, the prized free agent signing Javon Hargrave, and Javon Kinlaw all had would-be sacks to begin the next period.
It was another solid day at the office for Colton McKivitz, who, despite surrendering a sack, kept whoever he was going against at bay. McKivitz was also responsible for two of the longest runs by the offense. It’s early, but McKivitz looks the part.
Speaking of, Trent Williams made quick work of whomever he went against. During 1-on-1’s, there’s no competition for No. 71. In fact, he ragdolled Jackson to the ground on the first rep. It looked like big brother going against little brother, and the elder sibling was out to send a message.
But the positives far outweighed the negatives Tuesday for the offensive line, and that’s not something many position groups can say when they go against the 49ers defensive line.
Brock bounced back?
Using “rust” for Brock Purdy isn’t an excuse. You don’t step onto the field and go against the Niners defense expecting to pick up where you left off. On Tuesday, Purdy looked far more confident in what he was seeing and was getting the ball out much quicker in his second consecutive practice.
On one high-low concept, Purdy passed up the underneath route that was open for the second level route which led to a first down. That’s a good indicator that he’s seeing the field well. The timing was also as close to perfect as it gets for Brock today as far as getting the ball out on time.
There were a couple of mishaps, however, and both highlighted Purdy’s potential shortcomings. On one rep, Purdy threw a 10-12 yard out route to George Kittle, but Deommodore Lenoir jumped the pass for a would-be interception, but he couldn’t hold on.
The referee called a flag on D-Mo, but the play happened right in front of me and I couldn’t believe a penalty was called. It was an outstanding play from Lenoir, but it’s also a throw both Sam Darnold and Trey Lance have hit consistently during camp.
We can’t give credit or dismiss a play because of a penalty. Again, practice is about the process, not the result.
The other throw Purdy would want back came when defensive coordinator Steve Wilks ran what’s called a simulated pressure. That’s when a second level defender rushes and a defensive lineman drops off into coverage. Brock didn’t recognize what was happening, and hit the defender right in between the numbers, but he dropped it.
So, arm strength and recognition reared its ugly head on two reps. Still, today was a step in the right direction for Purdy. There were plays when he was under pressure, but still went through his progressions and didn’t panic and flee the pocket. That’s more important than any completion numbers you’ll read.
Don’t forget about Deebo
Brandon Aiyuk is the talk of the town, but Deebo Samuel looks like a different person through a few practices. To me, he looks more flexible. Samuel gets in and out of his breaks quicker, and is separating at a higher frequency thanks to that.
There haven’t been any focus drops for Deebo yet. He’s still a tank in the backfield and on screens, which shouldn’t surprise, but Samuel looks closer to his All-Pro form in 2021 than the wideout from last year.
Trey and Sam
If we’re being honest and objective, neither Brock, Trey Lance, nor Sam Darnold did anything out of the ordinary Tuesday. Calling their performances uninspiring wouldn’t be fair, but they weren’t exactly headliners.
Lance received the first crack with the second team today. He overshot George Kittle on his first attempt, but there weren’t any other egregious misses. Trey has a much better feel for the offense this training camp compared to last year, as you can see him calling audibles away from the blitz and getting the offense into better situations.
There was a rep on the goal line that was an out route to Ross Dwelley, and Trey put the ball slightly behind him. The result was a pass breakup by the defense when it should have been a touchdown.
Lance’s arm talent trumps every other quarterback, as evidenced by completing a deep out route from the far hashmark and hitting Aiyuk in stride on a deep comeback.
Darnold seemed to get lost in the shuffle, but he had one fewer rep than Lance. As was the case with Trey yesterday, Sam got skipped in the rotation as both players only run with the second team. I think that affected Darnold more than it did Lance yesterday.
After completing his first pass, Darnold’s second throw fell short and one-hopped the wide receiver. He had another throw where the defensive back got his hands on the ball. In Sam’s defense, Cameron Latu dropped one of his passes.
Still, Darnold never seemed to get into a good rhythm and sitting out for extended periods likely was the cause of only completing two of his six attempts.
I like how Darnold can change his arm angles and still complete a throw. He can also get through multiple reads with ease. But it was an off day for Darnold.
If Kyle Shanahan’s plan is to see who is impacted more by the ever-changing rep distribution between Darnold and Lance, he has his answer after two days.
As for a kicker update, Jake Moody nailed a 60-yarder with room to spare. He missed from 43, but was 5-for-6 on the day with makes from 33, 38, 48, and 53. He has a boot.
Practice MVP: The offensive line
For a split second, I thought we’d have another skirmish today as Christian McCaffrey felt the wrath of Dre Greenlaw. The offensive line didn’t appreciate that and came to CMC’s defense. Greenlaw and McCaffrey hugged it out, and nothing came of the situation.