Earlier today, we talked about the two highlights of practice: Jimmy Garoppolo tossing the ball down the field, Brandon Aiyuk and Fred Warner headlining UFC 278.
A day full of submarines
A few days of maintenance and key starters opened the door for youngsters to earn first-team reps. Ka’dar Hollman, a newcomer who played seven games for the Packers last year, was the starting cornerback in place of Charvarius Ward.
Jaylon Moore was the right tackle for Mike McGlinchey. I noticed that Ray-Ray McCloud wasn’t practicing. His replacement ? This player is called Deebo Samuel.
So much to make Deebo’s comeback easier, as he did a lot of reps with the first and second team. The pass breakups that were at McCloud are contested takes that Samuel clings to. Talanoa Hufanga found out the hard way.
The center/right guard combo of Jake Brendel and Spencer Burford continued on Tuesday. The coaching staff has praised Daniel Brunskill at every opportunity over the past year and a half. Because of that, I thought they would find a role for Brunskill. He occasionally spins to center with the starters, but it seems like it’s Brendel’s job to lose.
The tale in the cap
Ty Davis-Price worked with the starters for the first time. He fumbled a pitch on one play and ran into the back of his receiver, missing an open lane of traffic on another. It wasn’t a good day for the rookie as he continues to adjust to speed at the NFL level.
Elijah Mitchell had an impressive sweeping pickup on third down. The 49ers have yet to determine their third down situation. They have options. Trey Sermon might be the best. It seems good. Sermon looks like a sensible runner. He’s also the fullback who seems the most comfortable catching passes out of the backfield.
Running backs coach Anthony Lynn has steadily improved on the field through individual drills. It seems like every running back is looking for a cut before she’s there. Mitchell is RB1, but if you had no idea who the starter was, you’d think he’s a different player every practice.
Sermon and UDFA rookie Jordan Mason crushed the defenders. By removing the names from the back of the shirts, they impressed the most throughout camp. But we’ll see if that changes when the defense can tackle you.
Bombs in Gray
Aiyuk should have had another reception if Trey Lance hadn’t missed him with an errant throw. During one of the last practice games, Aiyuk landed a high-speed Lance pass through the air with his go-go gadget arms. That’s an impressive wide.
I mentioned above the difference that Samuel makes. If Deebo is the threat below and above the middle part of the court, Brandon Aiyuk has made his living outside of the hashes.
Malik Turner would in my opinion to win the final receiver spot. They consider him the “jump ball” catcher based on his usage. The attack threw strictly bland routes at Turner, who was very successful. I found it particularly interesting during Monday’s practice; they threw Turner a fade with the starters on the first game of the red zone period.
It was Danny Gray’s day, as he walked past the one who covered him all day. Gray won a few reps on the ball 1-on-1, and that continued in team times, where he torched Ambry Thomas on the sideline. This becomes a theme for Ambry, who struggled for six days.
There were so many potential sacks that it’s impossible to track Lance’s stats. Got it 9 for 16. Lance’s positives and areas for improvement are consistent.
When under pressure, which was often the case, Lance continues to stand up straight in the pocket, slipping when needed and looking to throw. He is not afraid to place the ball in a narrow window and pushes the ball aggressively down the field.
There are still repetitions where Lance smashes the ball and misses his target. Having a consistent platform helps. It’s encouraging that he’s having success against the 49ers defense the more he plays.
They’re a tough unit that continuously dominated the line of scrimmage during camp. Lance had a slap pass, which is a sign he was staring at his target too long. It will happen, and then he will uncork a throw on the sideline.
He’s not quite there yet, but you can see why Kyle Shanahan has invested as much as he has in Lance, which is a unique talent. I find it difficult to distinguish to what extent the problems Lance perceives are permanent or if they are due to a defense that knows what is coming.
Fortunately, this is a question that will find its answer in 2022.