49ers training camp report: Day 7

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers practiced in shorts and shells Saturday afternoon. Here are the highlights.


1. WR Torrey Smith. Seemed to jam his right ring finger catching a pass from Colin Kaepernick during warmups. Smith was in visible pain for a few minutes as he shook his hand and held his finger. But apparently the injury wasn’t a serious. A few minutes later during one-on-one drills Smith ran a fade route to the back corner of the end zone, jumped and made a touchdown catch over cornerback Tramaine Brock. I’ve never seen Smith lose during one on ones.

2. DL Arik Armstead. Perhaps the most powerful bull-rusher on the defensive line. Almost every time he participates in one-on-one pass-rushing drills, he gets his hands under the offensive lineman’s pads and pushes him back about 10 yards. Today, Armstead pushed around rookie sixth-round pick Ian Silberman.

3. WR DiAndre Campbell. The best undrafted rookie receiver on the field today. Beat Niners’ No. 3 cornerback Dontae Johnson with a double move during one on ones and made three catches during team drills, including a diving catch on a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

4. FS Eric Reid. Blaine Gabbert threw a pass over the middle to undrafted rookie receiver Issac Blakeney, and the pass was too high. Blakeney jumped, tipped it even higher into the air and it fell into the hands of Eric Reid.

5. TE Vance McDonald. Finally caught the pass he’s been struggling to catch his entire career – the deep pass down the seam. Today he ran that route on the first play of team drills and was open, but Colin Kaepernick overthrew him. They tried the play again a few minutes later and this time Kaepernick hit McDonald in stride.


1. TE Blake Bell. Plays like a stiff during one on ones. Has almost zero ability to make moves and free himself from man coverage. Seems like a tall, straight-line athlete, and maybe that’s why they call him “The Belldozer.”

2. OLB Corey Lemonier. Played right outside linebacker for the first-team defense during team drills today, and seems to be first in line to replace Aldon Smith in the starting lineup. But during one-on-one pass-rushing drills Lemonier couldn’t beat 2013 undrafted free agent Sean Hooey or 2015 seventh-round pick Trent Brown. I don’t see how the Niners can play Lemonier during passing downs next season. He’s a pass-rushing liability.

This article has 106 Comments

  1. Lemonier will probably be the 4th OLB by the time the season starts. But still, I want to see how he looks in pre-season games before I get too down on him.

    1. Lemonier has nothing but the speed rush around the tackle, and unfortunately I’ve not seen anything to suggest that’s going to change….

      1. A pity. He’s got some very good physical tools, if only he could learn some pass rush technique.

        1. And nice, long arms, which is why its a puzzle he has trouble disengaging blocks.

          1. Long arms AND good upper body strength, as evinced by the 27 reps of the bench press he put up at the combine. Its all a technique issue with him, not a lack of physical ability.

      2. Absolutely. The day after he was drafted, I got ripped for posting a youtube of Lemonier getting shut out by the the other team’s LT.

        As soon as the LT got his hands on Corey, he was locked up. He comfortably ran Cory high out of the pocket like it was a practice. If Corey’s first outside move didn’t work, he didn’t get near the QB.

        I didn’t declare Lemonier a bust (and I still don’t), but if he can’t develop other moves and learn how to disengage, he’s gone.

  2. Thanks Grant-
    > my guess is that Lemonade is a 1st or 1/2 down OLB with Harold and Brooks alternating at the edge rusher on that side. Brooks ‘starting’ and Lynch rushing on the other side.
    >early reports on Amstead sound pretty good
    > It looks like Tomsula-Chryst-Mangini are embracing the BB-style (thanks Eric) smoke and mirrors approach to Media relations in terms of specifics. I understand the approach.

    1. You could be right on Lemonier there Brotha. Kind of like how they used Parys Haralson with Aldon.

  3. Grant-
    IMO someone (you?) should quietly research and do a piece on the 49ers’ seemingly unprecedented post-employment support for Aldon Smith into his continuing recovery efforts. I read of both Tomsula’s and Baalke’s personal attachment to Aldon. We hear that Jed is on board. It’s an unusual, and to me an appealing and compelling story.
    The team will fiercely defend Aldon’s privacy and so would have to have a level of trust with the writer before they peeled the onion much, but done co operatively a timely socially irritant story could unfold in a dignified way. Brandon Marshall and Chris Carter could be terrific contextual resources. It would probably best be designed as an 18-36 month timeline; not about what Aldon’s doing a week from next Tuesday. I realize this is the Illiad and the Odyssey in the epoch of blogs and tweets.

  4. Armstead “Perhaps the most powerful bull-rusher on the defensive line.”

    And I was worried he’d lack strength because he couldn’t attend minicamp/OTAs. Getting low, and underneath the pads of the O-lineman has been the mantra for Arik before the draft. If he can get consistently good pad level he’ll be scary. This is one case where I’m more than happy to be totally wrong about a draft pick.

  5. Gotta stop the run. Sounds like there are adequate LBs in Brooks and Lynch so Lemonier would be asked to take some first and second down snaps to spell the starters, and keep them fresher to rush on third down.

  6. Lemonier reminds me of Manny Lawson. Muscular edge rushers, without a variety of pass rush moves, but where good against the run and in coverage (in Lawson’s case). Both came out of college as “speed rushers” but once in the pros were actually better at the other aspects of the position. And in Lawson’s case he’s been able to parlay that into a long career.

    Like others have said though, I can see him filling a role as a strong side backer on first and second down. But ultimately he’ll be a reserve once Lynch is 100%.

  7. I like reading this:

    “Riser: Eric Reid
    Reid, along with a number of players on defense, looks like he’s been in the right place at the right time for the majority of camp. His positioning and grasp of the defense are reasons the offense hasn’t had many explosive plays. This year, Reid’s moved all over the field, including at linebacker during a portion of Wednesday’s practice. Instead of being asked to stay in center field, as he was last season under Vic Fangio, Reid is doing a little bit of everything and letting his talent out of the bag.”


      1. It’s been 10 years since the only season he’s ever held the position. Included in that stretch is a 3 year stint out of the league. It’s very hard for me to imagine that he’s some diamond in the rough coordinator who’s talents have been undiscovered for all this time. My guess is that his Parcels connection has a lot to do with his employment under Baalke.

      2. Keeping my hands down.

        As for Mangini, I think he might be the right fit for the moment.

        Fangio had two luxuries…

        1) Aldon, who gave the 49ers the ability to pressure with only 4 men.

        2) The old Willis-Bowman tandem,which allowed the 49ers to stay in 2 MLB sets for a greater portion of the game.

        Manigini does not have these weapons, so his blitzing and use of specialized role players might be the right fit for the right time.

        1. By the way… are they lining up in the same vanilla 3-4 they did in minicamp? I’d like to see them continue using under fronts. Players like Dorsey seemed to thrive when he moved from KC’s 3-4 to SF’s hybrid alignment.

          1. I know CfC will likely disagree with me given our previous discussions regarding Dorsey, but I do get a little defensive of Dorsey when I read comments like he thrived once he moved from KC. Dorsey was very good at KC, and we are seeing much of the same qualities at the 49ers that he brought to the Chiefs. He was one of the best run defending DEs in the NFL. He graded out well according to PFF. Here is a good article that looks to dispel the notion he wasn’t good at KC.


            The notion Dorsey was a bust at KC is a false concept perpetuated by those that believe a good DL needs to rack up sacks without giving any thought to the system the player is being asked to play in. What is interesting though is that Dorsey still hasn’t been much as a pass rusher with the 49ers, its just that he’s mostly played NT for the 49ers which is a position people will forgive for not getting sacks.

            Dorsey also doesn’t have the pressure of expectation with the 49ers. While at KC he was the top 5 pick that didn’t get a lot of sacks. Now he’s a relatively cheap starting calibre DL picked up in FA, so people are willing to see him for what he is, rather than what they wanted him to be.

            1. “Players like Dorsey seemed to thrive when he moved from KC’s 3-4 to SF’s hybrid alignment.” doesn’t mean I said he sucked at KC. What I was pointing out was how interior defenders often do better in shaded fronts. They have more fun. It seems to allow NTs to play more aggressively.

              I agree with all your other points. Its mostly disappointed KC fans that expected their high draft pick to live in offensive backfields that said he was a bust. I never did. I was excited when Baalke signed him.

              1. I was pretty sure you didn’t mean it that way B2W, it was just the wording gives that connotation. I even had a whole paragraph dedicated to saying I understand that probably wasn’t your intent but deleted it as my post was already getting wordy!

            2. Our previous discussion was centered around whether or not he was better suited strictly as an interior defensive tackle or if he was also a defensive end. I also argued that he was considered a bust rightfully so in K.C. because of the expectation at the time of his draft that he was going to be a premiere pass rusher and that has never materialized.

              We both agree that he’s been a great interior defensive lineman and is a proficient run stopper it’s when the discussion wades to whether or not he’s a suitable pass rushing defensive end that we diverge paths.

              1. Yeah, I was more basing it on our disagreement about whether he should be considered a bust from his time at KC given the role he was asked to play.

                Did we ever discuss whether he should be considered a suitable pass rushing DE? If I gave that idea previously I didn’t mean to. I’ve only ever meant he is a good 5T (or 4T) in a traditional 2-gapping 3-4, which is designed to stop the run and eat up blockers. On that I believe we both agree.

              2. Reminds me of the pre-draft Armstead debate… do you draft a 3-4 run stuffing interior lineman at 15 if they’re not expected to be very good pass rushers?

                If camp reports are an indicator, Armstead has such a good hand punch and leverage, he will disrupt the pocket even when he’s not shooting gaps. And he’s athletic enough to have moves besides the bull rush.

                I’ll welcome sacks, but I’ll be perfectly pleased with disruptions and clogged passing lanes. Armstead flushes the prey… sharks Brooks, Lynch and Harold go in for the kill.

              3. Yeah, I don’t recall exactly how the conversation came up but I think it might have been based on the Armstead selection.

                Personally I don’t like the idea of taking a run stuffing DL that is very good at tying up blocks but doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher in their own right in the early to mid first round. Its not that they aren’t valuable players, its just I have a belief you can get very good players to play that role later in the draft.

                But, regardless of my opinion on whether its a good use of a high pick, I find it hard to consider a player a bust if he plays that role very well, even if he doesn’t put up the big stats the media and fans think an early to mid first rounder should be putting up. If Armstead develops into a player as capable as Dorsey in terms of stopping the run and tying up blockers I’ll be happy as Larry.

              4. “…I don’t like the idea of taking a run stuffing DL that is very good at tying up blocks but doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher in their own right in the early to mid first…”

                Agree, especially for a team that has a nack for finding/developing quality interior D linemen without having to spend major draft/cap capital.

                To me a “bust” is a play that totally flops. Its best used as a criticism of the GM, not the player.

                There are alot of quality players that have had the bust label pasted on them because expectations were built up by the team/media.

                For example,. if Vance McDonald never develops into a good pass catcher, I won’t use the word “bust” because he’s become a very good blocker. I’ll consider him significantly over drafted at pick 55.

              5. Which leads me back to my original 3-4 vs Under question to Grant.

                On first and ten, if a play turns out to be a pass, some defenders pressure better in an under front because that are already shaded towards a gap, or even downright in the gap (like Justin Smith).

                I’m just a fan so I welcome correction here… but an NT in a shaded under front can occupy one gap, while compressing another by slamming into the centers right side.

                Its the best of both worlds, with the aggression of the 4-3, but still fulfilling the 3-4 role.

                Instead of a typical 3-4 NTs role of (read+hit) at the snap, the shaded NT gets to (hit, then read+hit). They don’t shoot the gap like a 4-3, but they get to be more aggressive at the snap.

              6. C4C….

                Dorsey wasn’t that much of a pass rush threat while he was at LSU either….it didn’t matter at that point because he was right next to a guy named Ricky Jean Francois…he did the heavy-lifting in rushing the passer.

        2. Fangio doesn’t have those weapons either anymore. You think Mangini will outcoach him this year?

          1. Mangini’s defense will likely be a big play and big mistake defense (think sine wave). Fangio’s defense was more of a straight line, steady eddie type of defense. How are you defining “outcoach”.

              1. My $.02: Niners.
                -more top to bottom talent
                -Fangio bringing more of a change for his D to adjust to then Mangini; learning curve.
                Neither result will objectively prove who’s the better coach in their first year, but which ( both?) team gets better during the season will indicate progress of the unit and getting the most out of existing talent; and that speaks to coaching.
                >Teaching fundamentals and system discipline
                >Assigning and aligning players to maximize their production
                >Game Planning
                >In-game adjustments and play calling

              2. Fangio will look longingly at the Niner defense after looking at the Bear roster. He will have to face Rogers,CJohnson and AP each twice this season.

              3. Easily the 49ers, despite the major departures. The 49er defensive depth is outstanding.

          2. Grant

            Although it’s a crap-shoot between two quality D-coaches, I’m betting on Mangini because I believe that he’ll gamble more often. Just like Harbaugh, Fangio inherited a quality ready-made Dsquad….I don’t think that he’s that lucky in Chicago…….the shelf is far-from-bare in 49ertown….

      3. With all the departures, REALLY hard to match apples and oranges. With the overall loss of talent, Mangini might be as good as any at getting the best out of what we’ve got.
        Vic Fangio has always looked good his first year. I don’t think he will this year, but will do a good job in Chicago.
        I believe Mangini’s legacy in SF will be tied to Colin’s efficiency at converting 1st downs.

        1. Yup. With Aldon and Willis gone, Mangini could wind up being a very good fit for the current roster.

      4. Sorry, no. Fangio led a defense that did not give up a rushing TD until the last game, and did not allow a 100 yard rusher.His defenses were in the top 5 for the last 4 years.
        Mangini just lost Aldon….

      5. How will we know?

        It will be hard to be an upgrade over a guy that had such success. But I think Mangini will be a good DC.

        1. lab > lap

          There is no chance of a an edit function. Having one would reduce the number of posts.

      6. Personally, I’m concerned about Mangini’s interaction with the players, after reading Nate Jackson’s autobiography, “Slow Getting Up”. Jackson had played with Denver for most of his career, so he was used to Shanahan’s relatively calm style.

        On the other hand, from the book, “…I heard tales of Mangini’s evil. New York, while he was coaching the Jets, was hell. No, not hell. Worse. Three and a half hour practices. Busted bodies. Jangled nerves. Cussing. Yelling. Tension. Belittling. Football, the game, was nearly unrecognizable under Mangini’s demented eye. Hell was no match for it.
        …As a veteran player gets on in age, he loses his patience for rah-rah rituals that he knows are worthless. Grown men with refined football skills do not need to be goaded and harangued. Football is brutal enough without someone yelling at you. And if you make it to the NFL, you’re a self-starter. It isn’t high school. You aren’t dealing with children. But no one told that to Mangina.”

        Sounds like kind of the complete opposite of Tomsula’s approach. I’m hoping Mangini has matured and learned, or at least that Coach T can keep a leash on him…

        1. You should google some of his more recent interviews about his failures and what he learned from those mistakes. He got humbled and he seems changed and we’re not hearing reports from any of the reporters of these types of things happening at practice. As well as JT doesn’t seem to lead or want people who lead that way.

      7. I won’t go trump and raise my hand for this pledge. But I will say fangio more than likely benefitted from superior talent. His defenses before were nowhere near as good as his in SF. As far as magini. I think it would be tough to compare given his talent is gone. If he has this defense as of now. In the top 8. He will be an upgrade.

        1. Did you see that debate? Talk about your Fox ambush on Trump, that opening pledge question was specifically for him. What is this some club and he has to earn his pledge pin? Does Hillary have to make a pledge too? How about a pledge that her husband is going to keep his Anthony Weiner in his pants while the First Gentleman?

          Megyn Kelly committed a reporter’s cardinal sin. Her dislike for Trump was showing. She does realize his less than flattering comments were in the context of a television show right? Maybe not, because when Trump gave the zinger of the evening with his Rosie O’Donnell comment, Megyn Kelly was seething….

          Is Fox aware that the reason 20 million tuned in was because of Trump?

          1. I don’t believe for a moment that Kelly was running to the defense of Rosie O’Donnell. Her question had more to do with Trump’ penchant of having a quick trigger and shooting from the hip with his crass remarks.

            Perhaps a man who confesses his net worth to be 10 billion dollars feels he has the right to say whatever he wants without repercussion, but as he is finding with his most recent comment “blood coming out of her whatever” directed at Kelly, if he can’t learn to get out of his way the American will soon grow tired of this blowhard.

          2. Being an unabashed liberal who disdains her views, i still thought she had every right to ask her questions. She was just doing her job, and did not deserve the cruel insults hurled by that bloviating belligerent bellicose bullying crass classless Koo koo craven combover.
            Dems are chortling with glee.
            OK, back to football. The only Bush I want to talk about is Reggie Bush.

          3. I believe she has a little hatred for him. I’m a libritarian at this point in my life. Believe the two parties are a joke and work for the same goal. (And it’s not good) but my views on the future and current status are moot on this page. I will add that hate him or love him. He’s struck a nerve and is saying what most are thinking and afraid to say.being PC is a big problem in this country now a days. Being Latino I’ve actually read and heard his whole speech on immigration not what the liberal and conservative sides edited out for political gain. And I’ve always stood firmly on immigration laws. I will never trust the mainstream media again in my life. Their blantent and obvious lies nailed that down. Agendas are bigger than facts. The debate was a firing squad for him, and he answered nothing on his resolutions. He’s a breath of fresh air, but again what’s the solution? I just hope to God there isn’t another bush or Clinton in office. But I can already see the love fox is giving bush and let’s be real Hillary started campaigning two years ago when she got the boot. A known liar vs a family tree of liars. Hmmmm… We’re screwed.

        2. I agree that if Mangini has the defense in the top eight at the end of the season he will have done a good job. As Brotha Tuna wrote, there will be no valid basis to compare Mangini and Fangio in 2015 and that the ability of their respective offensive teams will have a lot to do with how they are evaluated.

          Three and outs aside, if a good defense keeps a team in the game but the offense fails to score at the end, the reputation of the defense will be worse than it the offense scores and it’s a win.

          1. Great point about the offense ht..
            Especially if they’re going with this deeper shots downfield. Either way the defense could be on the field more minutes.

    1. Found this interesting as well from Biderman’s article that Scooter posted above. Highly recommend reading this article as he has a different take than Grant and a number of other beat writers:

      “Faller: Joe Looney
      The 49ers defense has made a habit of creating bad plays for the offense by blitzing linebackers at Looney, who has struggled against quicker players. Yes, Looney is perhaps in the best shape of his career, but it looks like he’s in over his head at center. Over the last two practices, second-year player Marcus Martin has eaten into Looney’s reps at center with the first team, with Brandon Thomas and Ian Silberman working in at right guard.”

      MM has been playing more snaps at center over the last two practices. The OL has played better over the last two practices. I don’t know if there is a correlation because there are a lot of other moving parts, but it’s interesting.

        1. Sigh. did not get placed instead of did get placed.

          Grant: I’m sure if we pass the hat we can get enough money together to pay your webmaster to add an edit feature.

            1. That’s amusing, coming from the Press Democrat.
              ‘Bonjour Monsieur Pot. Je suis Señor Kettle.’

            2. What the Webmaster meant to say is that he or she is lazy and refuses to add something helpful that sites of even lesser quality have.

              1. Lesser quality? Some sites have up and down arrows and rec buttons. Some can display edit functions and chronicle the edit feature. This site must have been set up by a 14 year old.

            3. Maybe they are not computer savvy. My son could do it in 10 minutes, but they sound pretty clueless.

      1. Tomsula, you sly dog. Moving players around and not telling us the final O line composition. He keeps us guessing.
        So I surmise first of all that Silberman will not be center. My best guess out of the musical chairs is -Staley, Thomas, Martin, Pears, and Boone.

  8. I’m disappointed to not read any news on Mike Davis and not just from here, not finding any mention of him on other sites either.

    1. Taylor Price gave a shout out to Mike Davis in the beginning of their show last night saying “he’s running hard between the tackles.” He’s getting a fair amount of reps since Hunter’s being monitored.

      1. 49ers.com 8/8 TC notes.

        “Elsewhere, rookies like tight end Blake Bell and running back Mike Davis flashed their potential with key receptions and quick cuts in the run game.”

  9. From Scout.com:

    Tight End

    Riser: Vernon Davis
    Davis looks healthy and fast after a miserable 2014. And if the 49ers offense is going to improve like it needs to, they need Davis to become a viable threat. Of course, the first week of training camp won’t be remembered when the regular season starts. But, for now, Davis resembles the player San Francisco needs him to be. Rookie Blake Bell also deserves mention for having a strong camp.

    Faller: Vance McDonald
    McDonald made some nice catches Saturday, including a deep pass on a seam route from Kaepernick deep down field. He still makes some maddening drops. With just 10 catches in his first two years, the 49ers want him to become a more viable target for Kaepernick, particularly as a check down option. His best asset to this point is his blocking. But teams don’t invest second-round picks on tight ends just for their blocking.

  10. Hmmmmmm, highly subjective personal observation:
    Finding political debate on a favored sports blog, is like having some guy show up right next to you with a loud boom box at your favorite fishing spot.

  11. Sounds like Reggie Bush did some good work in red zone drills today. And Hayne scored on a goal line TD run despite taking some hits.

    1. Matt Maiocco ✔ @MaioccoCSN
      I didn’t have the heart to tell Joe Staley that Jarryd Hayne did not play rugby. He played rugby league, for crying out loud!

      1. Can you Imagen the look on Staley’s face if you walked up to him and told him it’s not rugby it’s rugby league.

    2. Hayne apparently took a big hit and was flattened by Carradine the play before he scored.

        1. Yes.

          Matt Maiocco ✔ @MaioccoCSN
          Eli Harold’s most memorable play from live period: Jarryd Hayne made him miss in backfield but Tank Carradine lit up the RB at goal line.

  12. Matt Maiocco ✔ @MaioccoCSN
    LT Joe Staley said #49ers pass protection has seen more kinds of blitzes from Eric Mangini’s defense in a week than last 6 seasons combined.

    This probably goes a long way in explaining the seemingly poor offensive line performance.

    1. I like the idea of more blitzes, when the defense overloads a side and the O linemen cannot block them all, and one player has a clear path to the QB. I especially like the notion of the safety blitz when it is done infrequently, but when it is called, the safety is unblocked.
      However, too many blitzes will leave the DBs on an island, and the Niners may give up big plays. So I hope it is done in an unpredictable manner, and the base defense can stop them from gaining 10 yards without blitzing. That starts with a stout run defense.
      That is where I think Arik Armstead is going to open eyes. I saw him throw a O lineman off to one side so he could tackle the running back for a loss. Ohio State double teamed him after they learned that one line man was getting pushed around. When I hear that AA is driving linemen backwards 10 yards, it is music to my ears.
      Losing Aldon hurts. I pray that he does get the help he needs, and I am glad the Niners are supporting him in his time of crisis. Next man up, and Lemonier has a golden opportunity to shine. I hope he rises to the challenge.

    1. I think this is a good contrast between JH and Coach Tomsula, and their different approaches to practices and the development of players.
      With AJJenkins, JH would ride him hard and set him up for failure. Then Tomsula allows Hayne to shine, and builds up his confidence. Hope the latter produces better results this season compared to the last one.

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