The 49ers didn’t have Brock Purdy during Saturday’s practice, and the offense looked like a unit missing its starter. Purdy will return Monday. Per ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, the team will decide if Purdy can practice on successive days.
Aaron Banks remained sidelined with a concussion, so Jon Feliciano filled in at left guard. Defensively, Arik Armstead and Talanoa Hufanga had rest days. Javon Kinlaw subbed in for Armstead while George Odum and Ji’Ayir Brown took turns in the rotation for Hufanga.
Here’s a list of the rest of the players who sat out of Saturday’s practice:
Saturday was more of a lethargic practice, which isn’t much of a surprise as Friday had an extra period that was 30 minutes instead of the usual 12 minutes, and Monday’s scrimmage inside Levi’s Stadium on the horizon.
We’re at the point in camp where the players look like they’re ready to hit somebody with a different colored jersey on. Thankfully, we’re less than a week away from the 49ers traveling to Vegas to practice against an old friend.
Don’t sound the alarms but go ahead and locate them.— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) August 5, 2023
Jimmy 1 for 7 with 3 dropped picks in scrimmage to close out practice. https://t.co/fClthomz7E
Don’t do it, Darnold
Sam Darnold got the first crack at it with the starters. Throughout this past week, it’s been steady Sam under center. That changed today. To sum Darnold’s day up, on his second attempt, he threw the ball into triple coverage on a shot play to Danny Gray.
He’s avoided those types of decisions all week, but took a noticeable step back on Saturday. Something was off for Darnold. Whether the speed of the defense or not trusting what he sees, but Sam struggled to go through his progressions during team drills in a timely manner.
Darnold finished 7-for-12, but was fortunate not to have multiple interceptions. He had another throw into traffic that was tipped in the air. Dee Winters dove for the ball and looked like he had a shot, but the referee ruled the pass incomplete.
The other near pick came when Sam made the correct read on a deep corner route, but the ball felt like it was in the air for five seconds as Tashaun Gipson recovered to make a play.
Darnold had another throw on third down where he threw well short of the sticks on 3rd down. Add in a couple of sacks and two other throws where the defender got a hand on the pass, and it was comfortably the worst practice of the week for Darnold.
Both Darnold and Trey Lance received ten reps with the first team and ten with the second team. Trey went 8-for-12, but let’s dig in to what those numbers actually mean.
Lance didn’t start too hot either. On the first play, he had a free runner for a would-be sack. In the ensuing play, Trey attempted to throw a corner route to Jauan Jennings, but didn’t have the proper trajectory as the ball hung up in the air and allowed the defensive back to contest the throw.
Finally, on the same go-ball that Purdy had failed to connect on with Deebo Samuel, Kyle Shanahan went to the same look. Samuel had a step on Charvarius Ward, but Lance overthrew the pass.
Lance didn’t have a bad day, but if you isolate his performance from Darnold’s, Saturday was a ho-hum day for Trey.
His best play came on a second and short play. He looked right, and the receiver was covered, then quickly went to his left, but the wideout was also covered. So, Lance took off for a first down to keep the chains moving.
Lance threw a long touchdown on a go-ball to Willie Snead. Trey gave Snead a chance, and Snead went through Samuel Womack in the end zone, reached out with his left hand, and secured an acrobatic catch for a touchdown.
Defense has its way
The story of the day was the defense taking away seemingly everything the offense wanted to do. Snead caught the touchdown in the end zone and had another deep ass against the 3s, but that was the extent of the offense’s success.
Dre Greenlaw can practically call out the plays by now, as evidenced by him sniffing out a screen and making a tackle for loss against Christian McCaffrey. Mooney Ward broke up a pass against George Kittle. Kerry Hyder got the best of Colton McKivitz on a couple of occasions.
On Friday, Shanahan opened up the playbook. Well, it was Steve Wilks’s turn on Saturday. There were more exotic looks, combination coverages, and blitzes from everywhere. Chaos up front and disguises in the back led to the quarterbacks having to throw the ball before they wanted to or forcing it into traffic.
It seems like every day D’Shawn Jamison and Marcelino McCrary-Ball make plays on the ball, and today was no different. Both players have cemented themselves on the roster.
I watched Ji’Ayir Brown closely as he received reps with the 1s with Hufanga out, and No. 27 is still getting his feet wet. Brown didn’t do anything noteworthy Saturday. On Friday, playing free safety, the rookie had his “welcome to the NFL” moment when Deebo caught a pass in front of him.
Ji’Ayir hesitated just enough and was caught flat-footed as Samuel closed the distance between both players. That was all it took for Deebo to speed by Brown for a would-be touchdown. I’d guess we’ll see a different version, or more aggressive version of Brown during preseason games.
Highlight of the day: George Kittle gave Tashaun Gipson a head-fake during 1-on-1s and made Gipson fall on a route.