SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood to me during the 49ers’ second open practice of OTAs.
1. CB Jimmie Ward. Started at right cornerback and stayed there all practice. Did not cover the slot. Covered Quinton Patton most of practice and shut him down. Patton caught zero passes during team drills. The only receiver who beat Ward was Eric Rogers, who shook Ward with a hard cut to the outside. Ward seems to struggle covering the deep curl to the outside and the deep out route.
2. WR Eric Rogers. Completely outshined the starting split end, Quinton Patton, for the second-straight practice. Rogers made a team-high six catches, including two first-down catches during a one-minute drill. He ran crossers, slants, curls, outs, ins and go routes and excelled running each of them. I predict he will beat out Patton and start at split end Week 1.
3. WR DeAndrew White. Also caught six passes during team drills, including a left-handed one-hand grab over the middle, which was the catch of the day. White seems almost as effective as Bruce Ellington, and much more dynamic than Patton. I predict White will become the starting slot receiver next season after Bruce Ellington inevitably tweaks a muscle.
4. WR Torrey Smith. Beat Tramaine Brock with a deep curl route on third-and-two during a one-minute drill, then beat Brock again with a deep in route on third-and-19 a few plays later. Both grabs netted first downs. Smith seems to be assuming Anquan Boldin’s old role as the go-to receiver on third down.
5. OLB Eli Harold. Recorded one sack and one pass break up as the starting weakside outside linebacker. Harold clearly is the 49ers’ most athletic linebacker, and I predict he will start and drop into coverage often.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. WR Quinton Patton. Caught zero passes during team drills and created no separation from cornerbacks. Telegraphed one curl route and allowed nickel back Chris Davis to jump the throw and pick it off.
2. WR Aaron Burbridge. Also created no separation from cornerbacks during team drills. Tried to box out Tramaine Brock who easily ran around Burbridge to intercept the pass. Later, Burbridge made a couple of contested catches including one against rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson. But Robinson broke up a pass intended for Burbridge a few plays after.
3. CB Rashard Robinson. Held his own against Burbridge, then gave up a couple catches to Jerome Simpson and tried to fight Simpson at the end of practice.
4. CB Chris Davis. Started at nickel back and got torched by Bruce Ellington, DeAndrew White and Bryce Treggs – pretty much everyone except Quinton Patton. Don’t expect Davis to make the final roster.
5. QB Blaine Gabbert. Threw two interceptions during team drills, one of which bounced off of a tall screen attached to the back of a ball boy. The screen was supposed to mimic a tall defensive tackle with his hands up. During 7-on-7s, three ball boys with screens on their backs would rush the quarterback, and Gabbert kept hitting the screen. He must have hit it three times. The other quarterbacks didn’t hit it once.
1. TE Vance McDonald. Pulled a Vance McDonald.