49ers practice report: ‘Really good day’ for the defense as DBs stand out

© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

There was plenty to watch on the second day of 49ers training camp. While the rust is still coming off and the pads are yet to go on, the intensity picked up on Thursday, with multiple moments of note.

Nick Bosa had just about a perfect day of camp, pressuring Trey Lance consistently, as Trent Williams remains excused due to a personal matter.

Here’s him showing a level of agility that is borderline disturbing for a player as built as he is (and there’s Kurt Warner walking by at the start).

Bosa opened the 11-on-11s period by demolishing George Kittle for a would-be sack.

He would not be alone in that regard. Hassan Ridgeway had another sack on Lance against what looked to be Spencer Burford.

Burford played tackle, and looked pretty good there at UT-Austin, but has been lined up at right guard so far, with Jaylon Moore at right tackle. The results through two practices leave a bit to be desired.

Mike McGlinchey has done work in some of the position group drills but is still ramping up to full speed and is not participating in team drills. Without him and Williams, that’s left a starting front of McKivitz-Banks-Brunskill-Burford-Moore.

If you gulped, or said something to the tune of “yikes” or “dear lord,” that’s the right instinct.

It’s not been pretty, especially against a defensive front that has as much depth as any position group on this roster.

Recently signed defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche had a couple of would-be sacks of his own up the middle. Drake Jackson got one, too.

What’s great about training camp is that those sack plays are rarely whistled dead, which meant we got to see Brandon Aiyuk make a ridiculous catch on a Nate Sudfeld pass, but get hit fairly hard by an oncoming George Odum deep over the middle. Aiyuk was fine.

Aiyuk has remained outstanding as the No. 1 option.

The only play he might want back was a near spectacular catch. Trey Lance sent a deep ball far down the left sideline and Aiyuk extended to catch it, but Emmanuel Moseley ripped through the catch point and jarred it loose as the two came to the ground.

The corner pairing of Moseley and Charvarius Ward has looked stellar thus far. Ambry Thomas has looked a clear level below, and that’s not necessarily a criticism. Moseley and Ward have simply been on another plane, and that’s taking into account that Jason Verrett could return, too.

Ward was the standout of Wednesday’s practice, with Bosa probably just behind. And that’s with the other Ward, Jimmie, picking off Trey Lance.

DeMeco Ryans described it as a “really good day” for the defense and said Charvarius Ward has raised the standard.

“He’s competitive. He competes every day,” Ryans said after practice. “He’s always challenging the guys across from him, challenging the guys in the room. So It has raised our competition level in the DB room and I’m happy to have it.”

Richard Sherman took notice of the group on Twitter, but denied that he was in attendance.

Perhaps the most impressive display from Charvarius Ward was his ability to run with Danny Gray. Lance launched a deep ball and Ward not only out-leveraged him at every stage, but ran with him step-for-step and put Gray in an uncomfortable spot for an incompletion.

This was after Brock Purdy had connected with Gray earlier, on the play of the day (which followed the would-be sack by Jackson). He stepped up and launched a deep ball down the middle which Gray secured in stride for a touchdown.

Given the outcome, that likely ranks as the No. 1 offensive play, but Lance probably had the most impressive throw of the afternoon on his final throw.

He took an inch-perfect hole shot, finding an outstretched Brandon Aiyuk in the couple yards above Ambry Thomas and below Darqueze Dennard near the right sideline. It was good for a roughly 20-yard gain. It is not a throw Jimmy Garoppolo could make, at least with any consistency.

As for Lance’s overall performance, it was mostly solid aside from a couple bad throws. One, thrown well behind Brandon Aiyuk, was punished with the aforementioned Jimmie Ward interception. Lance just didn’t see him sitting underneath.

He finished 6-of-13 with the INT and taking two would-be sacks. If you want to count the throws that came well after the sacks, he’d be 7-of-15. None of that really matters that much. It’s about the process, and how Lance is getting to the ends of plays.

Aside from that interception, his process looks much improved. He was under pressure consistently, but bought himself time on multiple occasions and highlighted that knack he has to almost surf his way down the line of scrimmage, buying time until all options are exhausted and the boundary forces him to run. He ran a couple of times, and well.

With a makeshift offensive line and a wildly improved secondary — Talanoa Hufanga, who’s been solid thus far, came crashing down and broke up a pass impressively — this has not been an easy task for Lance.

He’s missing his two best linemen and his best receiver. That’s why these stats, especially without pads, aren’t worth much. The process has been sound, and at this stage, it’s still his short touch that’s the only consistent concern with his game.

At the same time, there’s the understanding he provides home run potential on every play, so how much is it worth worrying about the dink and doink if he can turn a broken play into a touchdown? These are the questions he’ll hopefully start to answer more in the coming weeks and months.


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