SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me during the 49ers’ eighth day of training camp.
1. WR Jerome Simpson. The best backup receiver today. Caught a deep, leaping touchdown pass over cornerback Dontae Johnson during 1-on-1 drills, then caught three touchdown passes during teams drills – one against Prince Charles Iworah, one against Keith Reaser and one against Will Redmond. More on Redmond below.
2. RB Carlos Hyde. Caught seven passes during team drills while running flat routes, swing routes, Texas routes and option routes. Beat NaVorro Bowman three times, and once for a touchdown. More on Bowman below.
3. OG Joshua Garnett. Beat fellow first-round pick DeForest Buckner in a one-on-one pass-rush drill. Buckner tried to move Garnett with a swim move. Garnett didn’t budge.
4. DE Quinton Dial. Stripped Hyde during the first play of 11 on 11s.
5. Special teams coach Derius Swinton II. The only coach on the team who yells. Makes himself the center of attention during the five minutes he’s in charge. Chewed out veteran running back DuJuan Harris today for talking during a drill.
6. QB Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick’s best practice of training camp. Completed 7-of-11 passes during 11-on-11s, and 17-of-25 passes overall during team drills (11-on-11s, 7-on-7s and 4-on-3s). Threw four touchdown passes during a 7-on-7 drill in the red zone and two touchdown passes during 4-on-3s.
7. QB Blaine Gabbert. More accurate than Kaepernick. Completed 10-of-12 passes during 11-on-11s, and 20-of-28 passes overall. His best pass should have been a touchdown to Devon Cajuste, but Cajuste tried to catch the ball with his face and not his hands. Questionable strategy.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. DE Arik Armstead. Did not participate in team drills. Ran sprints on a side field while wearing a wrap on his shoulder.
2. WR Torrey Smith. The only player on the team who dropped more than one pass today. Had to fight for the ball because he couldn’t create separation from cornerbacks.
3. ILB NaVorro Bowman. Struggled changing directions, just like last season. Gave up six catches and one touchdown while in man-to-man coverage. The offense seemed to target him specifically.
4. CB Will Redmond. Gave up a long touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington during 1-on-1s, and gave up two touchdown catches during team drills – one to Simpson and one to DeAndrew White. Redmond does not seem ready to contribute Week 1. He seems like someone opposing offenses would try to exploit.
5. Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell. The only coach on the team who doesn’t lead a drill during the teaching periods. Stands and talks to the receivers while they listen and look bored. Occasionally spoke to one receiver while the rest talked amongst themselves. Seemed like a complete waste of time.
6. Anthony Davis’ lower back. Spent the first teaching period lying on the ground while a trainer massaged his lower back. Returned to practice and participated in the team drills, but seemed limited in what he could do. Couldn’t even block Corey Lemonier, who repeatedly pushed Davis into the quarterback’s lap. Bad sign.
7. Colin Kaepernick’s throwing shoulder. Spent the second teaching period lying on the ground while a trainer stretched his throwing shoulder. This lasted at least four minutes. At one point Chip Kelly walked over to see what was happening, and Kaepernick eventually jumped to his feet to show he was OK. But as practice went on, he kept shaking his right arm – it clearly bothered him. He threw mostly short passes the rest of the day.
Here are my practice notes (censored to exclude down and distance plus the names of running plays at the 49ers’ request):