We are officially back. Day 1 of training camp got underway on Wednesday, and while there was not an abundance of fanfare, that may be a good thing for a first day. There were nice catches and pass breakups and a plethora of darts from the new man in charge, Trey Lance.
For those of you abject sickos out there who care about completions in training camp, Lance was 4-of-7 or 5-of-7 in 11-on-11s. It’s such a minute figure it’s worth giving context to each throw, especially given the lack of time Lance has actually spent running the offense as the starter.
- Incomplete: Great pass breakup by Emmanuel Moseley; was a near side, solid throw to Jauan Jennings on an out route, but Moseley closed decisively
- Next play, ran a QB keeper for a chunk gain (always tough to gauge those plays when there’s a firm “hands off the QB” edict)
- Complete: A short throw to Kyle Juszczyk with Azeez Al-Shaair on the stop; Elijah Mitchell had an impressive blitz pickup on Jimmie Ward
- Complete: Great contested catch on a high-point throw by George Kittle, who won it away from a closing Charvarius Ward
- Incomplete: Austin Mack slips on an out route to the right sideline against Emmanuel Moseley
- Complete: Play action rollout complete to the left to Ross Dwelley, which was followed up by Dre Greenlaw punching at the ball hilariously and relentlessly; George Kittle imitated the absurdity of it immediately after
- Complete: Short dump pass to to tight end Tyler Kroft
- (In)complete?: The result of the play was unclear. It looked like a near-perfect throw from Lance to Kittle on the right sideline, with him falling out of bounds, but Jimmie Ward closed on the ball and seemed confident he broke it up.
There was no Deebo Samuel for Lance to throw to. He was present, doing work off to the side, which might well be the beginning of a contract “hold in,” in which players appear without actually participating, so as to prevent injury and utilize their only leverage while contract negotiations are underway.
Kyle Shanahan said before practice — he plans to speak before practice for the first time in his tenure, for at least this block of practices — that he and Samuel had a “great conversation” on Wednesday morning.
Trent Williams was not on hand. He was excused by the team to attend to a family matter.
As for Jimmy Garoppolo, he threw the ball before practice and then was essentially dismissed from training camp, though he was spotted in the weight room by Cam Inman at the start of practice.
Here were some of the more notable moment from practice:
- A mini-scare for Azeez Al-Shaair, who remained down on the ground for a while after Kyle Juszczyk ran into him. Al-Shaair said Juszczyk knocked Al-Shaair’s own elbow brace into his stomach, knocking the wind out of him. He recalled defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans delivering a “get your ass up” message in the headset. He was happy to get that moment out of the way on Day 1.
- New signing Robert Nkemdiche making a nice tackle in the backfield on Ty Davis-Price. The problem was he actually tackled him… a no-no in general, especially without pads. D-line coach Kris Kocurek let him hear it for the mistake, displaying how the 49ers want players to properly fake tackle.
- Emmanuel Moseley was all over the place, with at least a couple excellent pass breakups on Jauan Jennings
- Brandon Aiyuk giving Fred Warner a little shove after a play. Warner promptly egged Aiyuk on, getting in his ear for a few seconds after, telling him, “Yeahhh! I love it! I love it, boy!” Aiyuk, who was excellent — and had an outrageous, falling sideline catch against Ambry Thomas — laughed about the moment after practice:
“Fred is annoying. He’s irritating,” Aiyuk said. “But he told me what type of time he was on in the locker room earlier today, so I can’t be mad at him. We’re all competitors. The thing about that defense, it’s the best defense in the National Football League, so that’s the cream of the crop and when we go against those guys, w know we have to bring it every single day.”
- There was an inch-perfect deep ball delivered from Nate Sudfeld to Malik Turner, beating Ambry Thomas, who was over eager and mistimed his jump. It was the best throw of the day for a would-be touchdown.
It was a solid day overall. Not too much to complain about from either side. Trey Lance looked comfortable and wasn’t erratic on his throws. He did miss a dump pass to Elijah Mitchell pretty badly in 5-on-0s. It’s that short-range, second baseman type throw that’s most concerning, but it’s way too early to express any major concerns about him or anyone else.
Seeing the litany of quality running backs the 49ers have at their disposal is a departure from the tortures of last season, when the likes of Jacques Patrick found themselves on the football field. You may remember Patrick from the horrendous trick play pass he was asked to throw.
With Elijah Mitchell, Trey Sermon, Ty Davis-Price, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty and even UDFA Jordan Mason in the mix, there is some solid depth in that group.
It’s still too early to make anything out of the offensive line setups, especially with Trent Williams not in attendance, but Colton McKivitz lined up in his spot. Aaron Banks was lined up at left guard along with Nick Zakelj, while Daniel Brunskill, Jake Brendel and Dohnovan West took snaps at center. Spencer Burford was slotted at right guard, as was Jason Poe Moore. Jaylon Moore was aligned at right tackle.
Below are some other notes from the post-practice pressers featuring Aiyuk, Al-Shaair and Emmanuel Moseley:
- Aiyuk tried to tiptoe around a question asking, essentially, whether Trey Lance opens up the field in a way Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t. After a mealy mouthed intro, he acknowledged what we already knew: “But he definitely does, he extends the field. He makes those safeties back up, get out of their pedal fast.”
- Al-Shaair confirmed that he had offseason surgery on his knee and elbow. The knee was described as “minor,” while the elbow sounded more significant. He pointed to how he had to come out of games down the stretch because of his elbow issues, and had braced on both arms in practice.
- Al-Shaair also expressed appreciation for the return of linebackers coach Johnny Holland, who was away from the team for most of last year as he underwent treatment for multiple myeloma. As a rookie, when he only owned a bike, Al-Shaair said he’d spend many of his off days hanging at Holland’s house near the stadium. Despite his separation from the team last year, he stayed involved:
“He might be in the middle of getting treatment and he already sent me a whole paragraph,” Al-Shaair said. “Like, ‘Oh, on this play you did…’ Honestly, it’s like having like a granddad. We was out there yesterday for our little conditioning test and he’s over there taking pictures of all of us. I was like, ‘This literally looks like a grandpa who’s just taking in the moment at the family cookout.’ It’s awesome having him back.”
The 49ers will continue unpadded practice for the next three days before donning the pads on Monday.