The good and not so good from Day 1 of 49ers minicamp

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me during Day 1 of the 49ers’ minicamp.

THE GOOD

1. QB Blaine Gabbert. Drew three encroachment penalties with his hard count, went through his reads and frequently completed passes to the second or third receiver in the progression and released the ball quickly and decisively. Attempted five deep passes and completed three of them – one to Bruce Ellington, one to Bryce Treggs and one to Torrey Smith for a touchdown.

2. OG Joshua Garnett. Practiced for the first-time as a member of the 49ers. Played right guard for the third-team offense and held his own against fellow rookie first-round pick DeForest Buckner when Buckner played with the third-team defense.

3. DE DeForest Buckner. Played the first half of practice with the third-team base defense, then played the second of half of practice with the second-team nickel defense. Probably just a matter of weeks until he plays with the first-team nickel defense. The only player in his way is Tony Jerod-Eddie.

4. RB Carlos Hyde. Made three catches out of the backfield, including a shoe-string catch on low a pass thrown by Blaine Gabbert. Don’t be shocked if Hyde catches 50 passes next season. He clearly is the 49ers’ best running back in all situations.

5. WR Bruce Ellington. Led the team in catches as he’s done most of the offseason. Caught seven passes today including a deep touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert.

6. WR Dres Anderson. Beat Jimmie Ward with a slant route, beat Rashard Robinson with a shallow crossing route then beat Robinson again with a double move to the outside. Finished practice with five catches during team drills and was by far the Niners’ most productive split end.

7. WR Bryce Treggs. Made three deep catches including a deep touchdown grab on third-and-7 toward the end of practice. Also blew by Keith Reaser for a deep catch toward the beginning of practice. I fully expect Treggs to make the final roster.

8. TE Bruce Miller. Made six catches – more than any other player during practice except Ellington. Miller caught mostly short passes, although he could have caught a deep pass after beating an outside linebacker down the sideline with a wheel route. Thad Lewis simply overthrew the pass.

9. TE Vance McDonald. Caught four passes and dropped none. Actually watched the ball hit his hands before turning his head and running up field. I’m as surprised as you are.

THE NOT SO GOOD

1. QB Colin Kaepernick. Practiced for the first time this offseason and looked like Captain America before the government experiments. Skinny. No heavier than 215 pounds. Participated in 7-on-7 drills and threw an interception right to Kenneth Acker, who was trailing Jerome Simpson on a post route. Simpson was open, but the pass was late and behind him.

2. QB Jeff Driskel. Indecisive. Held the ball forever in the pocket and frequently seemed to look to scramble, which is not what Chip Kelly wants his quarterbacks to do.

3. FS Eric Reid. Let an interception fly through his hands and let Torrey Smith fly right by him for a deep touchdown catch. Seemed to play a couple of snaps at nickel back while Antoine Bethea played free safety and Jaquiski Tartt played strong safety.

4. CB Jimmie Ward. Gave up a first-down catch on third-and-eight to Quinton Patton, who ran a deep out route – the route that has given Ward problems this offseason. Also gave up a short catch to Dres Anderson who was running a slant.

5. CB Rashard Robinson. Gave up four catches today after giving up just one in front of the media during OTAs. Robinson seems to excel defending deep routes down the sideline, but he struggled today defending routes over the middle.

  1. Thanks for the report, Grant. I’ve read three other reports, which were virtually identical. Yours is the first I’ve read that provides some discussion on players not named Kap, Gabbert, Garnett or T. Smith.

  2. Thanks Grant.

    Did Ward give up more than those two catches? If not, seems harsh to put him in the bad column. Is it because he gave up a catch on a route he has struggled with previously?

    I’ve read elsewhere that Miller spent a lot of time playing with the 1s with Celek the other TE. Is that correct? Was McDonald playing with the 2s?

    1. Yes, just two catches allowed. Yes, it’s because he’s struggling with the route. He wasn’t bad, just no so good.

      Both Miller, Celek and McDonald all played with the 1s.

      1. Thanks again Grant.

        Who were the guys primarily in coverage on Ellington and Treggs (I assume Treggs played slot again)? Sounds like the slot DBs are struggling.

          1. Reckon Ward will end up back in the slot before the season starts? Or Redmond if they clear him to practice in TC?

          1. Delanie Walker 6′ 248 lbs

            Campus: 4.47 in the 40-yard dash … 345-pound bench press … 315-pound power clean … 420-pound squat … 33-inch vertical jump … 32 -inch arm length … 9 3/8-inch hands … Right-handed … 9/25 Wonderlic score.

            Combine: 4.49-second 40-yard dash. … 36 1/2-inch vertical jump. … 9’10” broad jump.

            Bruce Miller 6’1″ 254 lbs

            Combine: 4.85-second 40-yard dash. …31-inch vertical jump. …9’4″ broad jump. …31.25-inch arm length. …9-inch hands.

  3. “9. TE Vance McDonald. Caught four passes and dropped none. Actually watched the ball hit his hands before turning his head and running up field. I’m as surprised as you are.”

    If he can master catching the ball before he starts to run, he might live up to his potential.

    1. I wonder wonder if the increased practice reps will help McDonald’s catching. Real routes catching real passes has to be better than the juggs machine.

  4. “Practiced for the first time this offseason and looked like Captain America before the government experiments”. Nice one, Grant….

    1. Yep that was a good line.

      Surprised to see Kap took part in 7 on 7. I thought they said he would only be taking part in individual drills this week.

    2. That line was perfect.

      I wonder if he can look like current Captain America by the start of the season.

      Thanks for the article Grant. Good to hear about Vance but I think remember him having a few good practices sprinkled in last summer, so I’ll take it with a grain of salt.

      So you’re on the Blain train I gather

      1. I wonder if he can look like current Captain America by the start of the season.

        I hope not because that would mean Kaepernick would tackle one of the playmakers on the 49ers offense during a game against the Seahawks, then look at the fans and say, “Go Seahawks.”

        1. ??? Sorry that one went over my head

          Was that a Civil War reference? I still haven’t seen it unfortunately.

          1. Actually, it’s a reference to the current controversy surrounding him. You haven’t seen anything about it in the news or online?

  5. Grant

    Bryce Treggs seems to be your pet favorite. True? So Smith, Ellington, Rogers, Treggs … who else?

    And for the record, Rashard Robinson is terrible. What a horrific draft pick, he’s obviously overmatched at this level and is way too skinny to ever succeed.

    1. Rashard Robinson has been one of the 49ers most impressive looking rookies during OTA’s according to multiple beat writers and reports. And he has been singled out for praise from veterans like Torrey Smith.

      You might want to follow some OTA reports, So “for the record” you might want to do some homework and get your facts straight JC.

      TORREY SMITH specifically tabbed rookie fourth-round pick Rashard Robinson as an early standout.

      http://www.49ers.com/news/article-2/3-Notes-from-Torrey-Smiths-49ers-Live-Interview/be6c1e00-305a-41e5-b379-0ffaacc1482f

      Smith: “(He’s got) long arms,” Smith said. “He’s confident as ever. We like to get in his head from the sideline, but he works his tail off. They’ve got great leaders on that side of the ball so it’s no surprise. They’re doing a great job.”

      http://www.ninersnation.com/2016/6/2/11846934/49ers-june-2-ota-practice-recap-rashard-robinson-fahn-cooper-injury-report-video

      “The 49ers rookie cornerback is impressing some of the beat writers. Chris Biderman tweeted that Robinson is among the most impressive rookies thus far. Grant Cohn’s recap said he got work on both sides of the field, and gave up no catches. Cohn said he’s seen Robinson give up one catch in the three open practices.”

      1. Heh, given JC has been one of the most vocal supporters of Robinson I think you’ll find that was meant with tongue firmly in cheek.

      2. I think I may owe you an appology JC, as I now realize your comment about Rashard Robinson might have been facetious.

        My bad.

  6. FWIW, Hyde has been, since drafted by the 49ers, the best receiver from the backfield. Far better than Gore who was, at best, mediocre with his high-50% catch rate.

    1. Yea, that’s a part of his game that a lot of people aren’t familiar with, because he had soft hands catching the football coming out of Ohio State….

    2. It’s ridiculous to compare Hyde’s production wiith Gore’s since one hasn’t even completed a full season as a starter.

  7. Grant,
    Thanks for the report.

    Btw, we’ve seen this pic of Kaep before. Not sure what the ulterior motive behind showing it again would be except to take a poke at him.

    CK was just released to practice with the rest of the team today so I for one did not expect anything special from him. I’m looking at TC when he is fully healthy to see if he can make a run at reclaiming the starting role. If he can’t then “all hail” Blaine Gabbert.
    But I’m not crowning Gabbert just yet.

    Not surprised to hear that Miller is catching passes. But I also like hearing that VMac made catches on all throws to him. If VMac gets his hands working he could really help to boost this offense. He is fast enough and physical enough to make a big splash if he can catch the freak’n ball.

    Thanks again for the report.

    1. I wonder what the medical release parameters are. In Kaepernick’s case, I don’t think it means he’s ready to be sacked, or drive a fast ball forty yards down field. That will come later, but Grant just can’t wait.

  8. Thanks Grant

    So nice for some positive feedback….Glad that Dres Anderson is showing some moves with Speed….

  9. Given Kaepernick’s rehab status, what’s the point of listing him at all. Maybe it would have been enough to point out that he had a helmet on for the first time this year.

    Colin’s weight seems like it might be an interesting story. With knee and shoulder surgery, we know that he just got back into the weight room. Do we know that he’s been controlling his diet to avoid putting on weight while he wasn’t able to work out?

    The first week in August is time enough for performance comments, sly or otherwise. You don’t need to rush it.

    1. It’s the hot topic, how could anyone not report it?
      He will be talked about till the 49ers decide who will be the week 1 starter.Then it’s only get magnified for the entire year. Buckle up!

  10. Grant, thanks for another good practice Breakdown. I always look forward to them. How did Bell look? I heard he moved really well for a 270 pounder.

    1. Blair’s bigger than an OLB, but smaller than most inside linemen. Is he holding his own in the sales drills?

  11. My memory was that Kap was listed at 215 pounds when he played for Nevada, and the pictures I saw of today’s practice looked a lot like he did when he was there. However, I went back and looked at the Wolf Pack’s website and they had him listed as 6’6″ and 205 pounds (http://www.nevadawolfpack.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/colin_kaepernick_241490.html). I think that must have been his freshman weight because he was not 205 in later years. I still think 215 to 220 was his playing weight most of the time he was at Nevada. He began bulking up senior year and before the combine (he was measured at 233 at the combine).

    I wonder if he will try to get over 230 again. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that he would need the extra bulk to withstand NFL hits, but I wonder if staying closer to his natural build might help him with throwing the ball.

    1. I posed the same question to Grant when the picture first emerged. I would think he would be more flexible and even Coach Harbaugh raised some concern that he not bulk up his arm too much, if my memory serves me right….

        1. That is a fair question, Prime.

          Reduction in muscle mass and increased flexibility might help his accuracy improve over what it was in 2014 and 2015, but I do not think that is what you meant. I suspect you were referring to his accuracy as compared to other QBs. If so, I agree – the muscle mass reduction will not help that. Kap is limited, and the best we can hope for at this point is to try to minimize those limitations.

          1. I think the the path to improving CK’s accuracy is more consistent footwork (will never be perfect), and regaining confidence. A happy, relaxed CK will be more decisive, which will help the timing.

              1. There are two camps when it comes to CK…

                1) The Dilfer Camp. It’s all about the passing mechanics. Fine tune, fine tune, worry about minutia. It will eventually gel into something great.

                2) The Boldin Camp. Let CK be his aggressive, himself. CK needs to have fun, play instinctively, don’t worry too much about being perfect mechanics. Just let her rip like its 2012-13.

                I split the difference. I used “consistent footwork” rather that “perfect the footwork” to improve accuracy.

                And be himself. When CK over-thought the passing mechanics in 2014 he was throwing balls into the dirt with wide open WRs.

                Work on passing mechanics, absolutely. But when the bullets are flying he needs to have confidence and let her rip.

              2. Sorry about the fractured grammar. I messed up some edits. Hope my basic message got through.

        2. Chip said he was impressed by Kaepernick’s decision making in his debut at mini camp, so there’s an answer to your second question….

        3. Matt Maiocco, ” Kaepernick again threw the ball accurately in only his second day of work against a defense”. It must be working Prime, there’s the answer to your first question….

      1. I expect Kaep has been eating healthy, and he does not look like he has an ounce of fat on him.

        While I will agree that he needs more muscle to absorb the big hits, I hope he stays quick, elusive and fast. A faster Kaep means less hits.

        1. I’ll ask you Sebnnoying, does the weight loss improve accuracy and decision making?
          I mean that’s the 2 skill set all us 49ers need to see from him and is basically what led to the benching. Does eating healthy also improve those skills?
          Inquiring minds want to know!

          1. Prime, once Kaep is fully healthy, I expect the accuracy will return to 2012 levels. Good thing that Chip praised Kaep’s intelligence earlier.

            Maligning an injured player is just what I expect from you, since you asked.

            1. Sebnnoying,How will the accuracy return to form? Are you using injuries as an excuse to his accuracy and decision making failures?
              The injuries were not to the brain or throwing shoulder so tell me how you think he will return to the player he was almost 4 years ago?

  12. Thanks for the breakdown Grant. It seems like too many sleeping on D. Anderson. Do you see him making the final roster, and if so, will it be as a backup or starter? Also, did Cajuste play today?

    1. Cajuste played with the 3s and made two catches. Anderson has a chance to make the team as either the No.1 or 2 LWR depending on how he plays in preseason.

  13. ’13-’15 Blaine Gabbert 11.2% inaccuracy rating on short passes, he’s known as Captain Checkdown, but these numbers would indicate he’s is Private Checkdown. When it’s do or die, win or cry, Gabbert’s failed completion percentage of 34.5(good for 2nd highest in the league behind Foles)rose to 58.5%. The highest in the league by far. No other quarterback had higher than 50 on 3rd and 4th downs. Gabbert threw an average of 2.1 yards in front of the line to gain on 3rd downs, while Kaepernick in his worst year threw 0.7 yards past the chains on 3rd downs. Gabbert has lost 27 games as a starter while Kaepernick has won 27 games. A friend of mine once said, “You play to win the games”, but with Gabbert, he plays to not lose the games….

    1. nice Herm Edwards reference… my only problem with him is that wherever he was coaching, became the land where offense went to die.

      1. Hmm, I remember when they played for glory, expecting to get paid once they achieved greatness, or even accepting less to help the team.

  14. Its good that the 49ers are sorting out the ones who can and can’t play this off season.

    From a player development perspective this will be the most important off season in a very long time.

  15. I hope Treggs or White can take over the returner position, and let Ellington play more WR. Putting Ellington in motion would give Chip lots of options.

    1. Actually, that brings an interesting question to my mind. Given Chip’s preference for speed in getting plays called and snapped, does anybody know how often he uses pre-snap movement?

  16. Hey Grant, appreciate the more extensive mini camp report great reading & long time reader here! Any news on how Wynton McManis or Lenny Jones have been looking at ILB? Any movement up the depth chart there?

  17. Kaep should experiment with his new found lightness and work on his flexibility. I often though his faux muscle develop was an issue with short arming passes impacting his accuracy or ability to throw long and outside the numbers. Kaep often throws his intended receivers into dangerous positions- high and away low and behind the clobber zone sweet spot. Kaep might want to stay lighter and try yoga or body weight exercises.

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