49ers quarterback competition heats up; Observations from day 4 of training camp

Here is what stood out from the 49ers fourth day of training camp in Santa Clara.

Sunday was the final practice without pads for this training camp. It was a crisp one which included work in the redzone for the first time during camp. Trent Williams and Christian McCaffrey did not practice as part of a scheduled day off for each and Charvarius Ward sat out with an adductor strain.

Sam Darnold

The veteran was sharp throughout. Splitting reps between the first and second team, the veteran quarterback finished his day 8-10 with three touchdowns.

Darnold opened the first redzone period working with the starting offense against the 49ers starting defense. On the first play he found Brandon Aiyuk on a slant from 15 yards out for a touchdown. After completing a screen to Elijah Mitchell, Darnold tried to hit George Kittle in the right flat, but Fred Warner was there to force the incompletion. Darnold finished the series off with another touchdown throw to Aiyuk.

The second touchdown was an example of a good result, but poor execution. Darnold was working the left side of the field and missed Tay Martin alone in the back left corner of the endzone. As a result, he moved out to his left where he found Aiyuk along the goal line. Although it looks good on the stat sheet, this is the type of play that would result in a discussion during the post practice film session.

Darnold opened the second ream session with a pair of darts over the middle to Brandon Aiyuk, one of which the receiver took through the defense for a 50-yard touchdown. On the following play Darnold again hit his receiver with a strong throw over the middle, this one to Deebo Samuel.

Trey Lance

Lance opened the day with one of his best throws so far during camp. Working off play action he found George Kittle on a wheel route down the left sideline and threaded the ball in between two defenders for a long gain.

Moving into the redzone, Lance had a strong session. After a checkdown to Ty Davis-Price, Lance threw a strike over the middle to Chris Conley who was stopped at the two by rookie safety JiAyir Brown.

Lance wrapped up the session by showing off his athleticism when quick pressure from the right side forced him to scramble. Lance took off around the left side, beating the defense to the endzone for the touchdown.

Things got a little off for Lance when the second team session began. His first throw to Elijah Mitchell who was running a vertical route up the left side fell incomplete when it hit Drake Jackson, who was in coverage, in the back. On the next play, Lance held the ball too long before checking down to Davis-Price in the left flat, linebacker Marcelino McCrary-Ball was there for what would have been a loss on the play.

Lance bounced back on the next series with a laser to Chris Conley for a touchdown from about 15 yards out. He finished the day 5-8 passing with a touchdown and a rushing touchdown.

Brandon Allen

Allen continued to take all of the third team reps. His first throw was a nice downfield completion to rookie wide receiver Isaiah Winstead.

Moving into the redzone, Allen connected with Brandon Aiyuk for a touchdown on his first snap. On the play, Allen fired the ball right over the shoulder of linebacker Jalen Graham. This was a fantastic throw.

Allen’s second touchdown throw was pretty good as well. The snap hit the ground before getting to Allen, but the quarterback was able to get the ball and spin out to his right where he found Ray-Ray McCloud in the front corner of the end zone.

For the day Allen was 3-5 with two touchdowns.

Brandon Aiyuk

Aiyuk was outstanding during the offseason program and that has carried over to the start of training camp. He has been nearly unstoppable. As Deebo Samuel said, “you can’t guard that guy in a phone booth right now.” Aiyuk had four touchdowns today, including a 50 yard catch and run.

Deebo Samuel

Samuel came into this camp in much better shape than a season ago. Today he made a nice grab over the middle on a throw from Sam Darnold. A few plays later, Samuel caught a screen along the right side and showed the run after catch ability he is known for.

Chris Conley

The veteran wide receiver made his presence felt with a pair of nice grabs on throws from Trey Lance in the redzone. After being stopped just short of the goal line on the first reception, Conley got free over the middle a second time and Lance hit him in stride for a walk-in touchdown.

George Kittle

It’s been a quiet start to camp for Kittle. Today he opened the first team session with a nice grab down the left sideline from Trey Lance.

Jaylon Moore

Moore is competing with Matt Pryor for the swing tackle role. With Trent Williams out for a rest day, Moore stepped in at left tackle and held his own in pass protection. This is a nice improvement from last season when he struggled throughout.

Ty Davis-Price

The second year running back continued his strong start to camp. Davis-Price showed off his improved understanding of the offense with several nice cuts to get upfield and brought in a pair of passes from Trey Lance.

Drake Jackson

Jackson showed off his athleticism when he peeled out of his pass rush and ran stride for stride down the left sideline with running back Elijah Mitchell in pass coverage. The tight coverage led to an incompletion when the pass hit him in the back.

Robert Beal Jr.

The rookie defensive end is a bit undersized, but today he did a good job of setting the edge in the run game leading to what would have been a tackle at the line of scrimmage.

It’s easy to see why the 49ers liked Beal in the draft. He has an explosive first step and does a terrific job of turning the corner.

Spencer Waege

The undrafted rookie free agent continues to impress. Today he broke through to pressure Trey Lance and flush the quarterback out of the pocket.

Marcelino McCrary-Ball

McCary-Ball had a terrific break on a throw out to the left side from Trey Lance to Ty Davis-Price. This was the type of play which would have led to a big collision from the linebacker during a game.

D’Shawn Jamison

The undrafted rookie free agent drew praise from Brandon Aiyuk after practice for his ability to be around the ball. Jamison has continued to show improvement and is sticky in coverage even against the 49ers top receivers.

This article has 10 Comments

  1. Sounds like a stronger day for the O all the way around. I’m looking forward to seeing Darnold in the preseason games. I thought Beal would have to mature on the PS for one season but maybe he can contribute as a pass rusher on the 53.

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  2. From Maiocco:

    “There were some more open guys today,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “There were some busted coverages. And they blitzed a little bit more, so when they blitz people are open. There were a lot of sacks there, too.”

    I’m not a Steve Wilkes guy. He hasnt coached a good defense in over 5 years. Kind of curious how Kyle is going to handle it when Wilkes has a bad game with too many blitzes.

    1. Pat,
      I strongly believe that the 49ers needed to blitz more often during the last 4 or 5 games in the regular season and playoffs last year. Not too much but more. They were having problems getting pressure with just their front 4. Hopefully Wilkes will increase our sack totals by 15 or so by using timely blitzs. If there is a game that they lose or win by a smaller margin then they should have won because of an over use of the blitz. KS during the next week can speak with Wilkes and let him know that he wants him to blitz less and which situations he doesn’t want him blitzing. Thats a HCs job.
      If Jackson and possibly Beal can produce 12 to 15 sacks I imagine Wilkes will only blitz once a game or so.

      1. Wilks’ blitz rate elsewhere compared to ours is about 10-15% higher each year. That seems like alot to me and idk if it’ll help or hurt our coverage. I imagine it’ll help vs less mobile qbs but probably make our Achilles’ heel of mobile qbs even worse but I hope I’m wrong.

      2. One of the reasons I liked DeMeco so much was because I thought he mixed in blitz packages so effectively. I don’t really agree with you on the regular season and playoffs. Throwing out the Eagles game. Once Purdy got hurt that game was over. So over the last 4 regular season games and playoffs, the 49ers won by an average of 13 points. 49ers laid an egg against the Raiders so stats were horrible in that game. And they still averaged beating opponents by 13 points. In those situations, why blitz? You’re winning so you’re playing to keep everything in front of you.

        Frankly, I don’t think Wilkes is a very good strategist and the strategy he does use doesn’t fit the 49ers draft scheme since Lynch & Shanahan were hired. The 49ers have spent so much draft capital on defensive lineman for the very purpose of controlling the line of scrimmage and getting to the QB with only 4 so you can have more players in coverage. Wilkes entire career has been about blitz packages and he really hasn’t been very good at that. I’m just not a fan.

  3. The pads go on today….they all look good ‘getting of the bus’….today is when the ‘it’ factor has to show up

  4. 55,
    Today, the real TC begins.
    It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
    My only concern is that the 49ers don’t have any serious injuries, because by now, players want to smack someone.

  5. Jack,
    As I read the 49ers TC reviews (from many sources), many of the reports on the UDFAs have positive comments on, Khalan Laborn, D’Shawn Jamison, Spencer Waege and Ilm Manning. By all accounts so far, this may turn out to be the strongest UDFA camp yet.

    How do you see the progress of these players, Jack?

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