This is what stood out to me during the 49ers-Broncos joint practice Wednesday morning.
Disclaimer: I got a much better look at the 49ers offense than the 49ers defense today. Those two units played simultaneously on two different fields, and I stood next to the field the offense was playing on. Tomorrow, I’ll stand next to the field the defense plays on.
1. QB Brian Hoyer. Until today, I didn’t know if Hoyer had been playing well this offseason because he’s good, or because the 49ers defense is bad. That’s one reason I’ve been looking forward to this practice against Denver – I wanted to see how Hoyer would perform against a terrific defense. Today, Hoyer performed very well. He completed 24 of 32 attempts and threw two touchdown passes – one to Vance McDonald and one to Pierre Garcon. Hoyer also completed a deep pass to Marquise Goodwin. Hoyer was the best quarterback on the field, better than both Broncos QBs – Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
2. WR Pierre Garcon. Garcon caught seven passes, including these highlights:
- He outran Chris Harris Jr. down the left sideline to catch a deep touchdown pass during 1-on-1 drills.
- He beat Aqib Talib with a deep in route.
- He beat Talib again with a quick curl route.
- He beat Bradley Roby with a deep comeback route.
- He beat Roby again with a corner route in the end zone to score a touchdown.
Garcon rose to the challenge against three excellent corners. He is a first-rate competitor.
3. WR Marquise Goodwin. Like Garcon, Goodwin caught seven passes. Here were Goodwin’s highlights:
- He beat Aqib Talib twice with comeback routes during one-on-one drills.
- He caught a deep pass when he was wide open.
- He beat Chris Harris Jr. with a deep out route.
- He beat Bradley Roby three times – once with a deep in route, and twice with deep out routes.
Denver’s corners couldn’t handle Goodwin’s speed and quickness. He is going to have an excellent season if he stays healthy.
4. WR DeAndre Smelter. Fifteen yards downfield, Smelter gave a hard head fake to his right then cut quickly back to his left. Broncos third-round pick Brendan Langley fell for the head fake and ran the wrong direction. Great route by Smelter. The best route of the day. Smelter also made the best catch of the day: He ran a route toward the back-left corner of the end zone, turned his head over his left shoulder to find the ball, saw that it was thrown behind him towards his right shoulder, jumped and twisted in the air to make a leaping grab and landed with both feet in bounds. Smelter has a legitimate chance to make the final roster.
5. WR Kendrick Bourne. Bourne and Smelter are competing to be the sixth receiver on the 49ers’ depth chart. And while Smelter made the flashy plays I described above, Broune made plays as well – he caught two touchdown passes from Matt Barkley in the red zone. Bourne and Smelter seem neck and neck in their competition to make the team.
6. RB Carlos Hyde. Hyde continues to be a focal point of the passing game. Today, he caught four passes, including a deep catch down the seam while playing against the Broncos starting defense.
7. OT Trent Brown. During one-on-one pass-rushing drills, Brown twice faced Von Miller, arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL. And Brown beat him both times, calming pushing Miller around the edge of the pocket. Brown is almost impossible to beat during 1-on-1s.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. WR Trent Taylor. Taylor led all 49ers with nine catches today. He’s a natural receiver – he can get open and he can catch the ball. He will be a good player for the 49ers in the future. But he still has a lot to learn. He often lines up in the wrong place and the quarterback has to tell him where to go. Today, he stayed in the huddle when he shouldn’t have been there, and Hoyer yelled at him to leave. Hoyer seemed annoyed.
2. TE George Kittle. Kittle practiced for the second straight day after missing a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury. Today, he caught a long pass when he beat a linebacker with an out route, then immediately grabbed his hamstring after catching the ball and running out of bounds. Kittle clearly isn’t 100 percent healthy.
3. OG Brandon Fusco and OG Zane Beadles. The Denver Broncos defensive linemen took turns manhandling Fusco and Beadles during 1-on-1 pass-rushing drills. Fusco and Beadles seemed like players who should be backups, not starters. Unfortunately for the 49ers, they’re starters. The Niners will need to find better guards next offseason.
49ers-Broncos joint-practice recap https://t.co/VS7WtsSXiG
— Grant Cohn (@grantcohn) August 16, 2017