Day 1: The good and not so good from 49ers training camp

San Francisco 49ers’ Richard Sherman (25) runs during NFL football practice at the team’s headquarters Thursday, July 26, 2018, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SANTA CLARA – Here’s who stood out to me during the first day of training camp.


1. RB Jerick McKinnon. Ran 70 yards for a touchdown on the first play of practice and made it look easy. McKinnon is such a better fit in this offense than Carlos Hyde was. Unlike Hyde, McKinnon has a feel for running in an outside-zone blocking scheme, and for running behind a fullback.

2. RB Matt Breida. While McKinnon glides around the field, Breida explodes and delivers blows to defenders. He is the hardest runner on the team. At times, he reminds me of Maurice Jones-Drew.

3. WR Marquise Goodwin. Caught a deep touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo while outrunning the entire defense. Goodwin remains Garoppolo’s favorite target – those two built chemistry last season. Garoppolo and Garcon have no chemistry yet. Garcon caught no passes on Thursday.

4. WR Richie James. Ran up the sideline and caught a 40-yard pass from C.J. Beathard between cornerback Tyvis Powell and free safety Antone Exum Jr. James could have taken a big hit, but Exum and Powell ran into each other, and James scored. He never flinched. He’s fearless.

5. DE Ronald Blair. Played left defensive end for the second-team defense and recorded a sack. Blair is the best edge-rusher on the team even if 49ers won’t admit it. He has moves and counter moves and consistently works the outside edges of blockers. He doesn’t rush straight into blockers like Solomon Thomas does.

6. CB Tarvarius Moore. Gave up a catch to Dante Pettis, then took the ball away from him – just took it away – and recorded the interception. More on Pettis below.

7. CB Richard Sherman. Played the first two reps of every drill with the starters. Jimmie Ward replaced Sherman after that. When Sherman played, he gave up no catches. Garoppolo never tested him.


1. CB Richard Sherman. Got burned by McKinnon in the open field. Sherman was standing between McKinnon and the end zone. Sherman forced McKinnon to run toward the sideline, rushed over to tag him and whiffed. McKinnon was gone. Sherman looks slow.

2. DE Solomon Thomas. Failed to set the edge during McKinnon’s 70-yard touchdown run. Kyle Juszczyk blocked Thomas out of the play.

3. CB Ahkello Witherspoon. May have had a terrific practice – I wasn’t focused on him. The two times I noticed him, he got beat by Marquise Goodwin. The first time, Goodwin dropped the ball. The second time, Goodwin caught it. Teams will go after Witherspoon relentlessly next season – they won’t go after Sherman if he’s healthy. I’m interested to see how Witherspoon will respond.

4. WR Dante Pettis. Soft at the catch point. Doesn’t fight for the ball. Allows the defensive back to knock it away, or grab it out of his hands. For such an accomplished punt returner, I assumed he would be a tougher receiver.

5. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Completed only four of nine passes during 11-on-11 scrimmages. Seemed oddly disengaged. Allowed practice to end without demanding more reps to correct his mistakes. Is that what Tom Brady would have done?

This article has 94 Comments

  1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Completed only four of nine passes during 11-on-11 scrimmages. Seemed oddly disengaged. Allowed practice to end without demanding more reps to correct his mistakes. Is that what Tom Brady would have done?

    Since it is the first day of practice, I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about. He’s shown that he’ll demand more time when he thinks it’s needed.

    1. I really appreciate Grant’s honesty and acumen in reporting on individual players. He does not buy the hype. He calls it honestly and mostly accurately I believe. I agree that Soloman Thomas was a really bad first round pick. Other than Buckner, we have not had a great first round draft pick for many years. It appears that he has not developed from his mediocre first year.

  2. Did Breida have any targets during 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills? How did the rookie RT look?

  3. I think Jimmy G has the yip yips and that he’s gonna have a bad season.
    He got too much money too fast.
    He didn’t earn it.
    His head is in the clouds I mean who screws up that bad to date a porn Star, a nasty one at that I mean she’s rank-and get caught.
    Dude has a ga zillion dollars now-you can’t get a private room or just ship it into the suite at the four seasons. I mean what a bone head. You know for certain his parents must have been like what? That chick is so B to C level too. Don’t get it. You know it’s in his head too. He’s embarrassed. It’s gonna effect him. Foster situation was not the bad thing that happened, this was, trust me. He’s a buffoon. Lost my confidence with such a bone head move.

    1. JIMMY G-SPOT! Man that chick is a total skank.. what was he thinking? Big dimply frumpy a$$ and all..

    2. Get with the times. The POTUS set the example and made banging porn stars more popular. At least Jimmy G isn’t hiding it or hypocritical about it.

    3. Some of you guys need a girlfriend. You all can rent one if necessary. Maybe Kiara can hook y’all up.

  4. The Good:

    It’s the first practice report of the season. May church bells ring throughout the kingdom.

    Grant will evaluate the O-Line more in depth after Saturday’s padded practice.

    The Bad:

    No open practice at Levi’s because of scheduling conflicts. Why not have one at Kezar?

    Volume problems at post draft day press conferences continued at yesterday’s 49ers Live show.

    Every year I promise myself not to overreact to practice reports, pre-season games and player praise from a coach. I always break this promise.

    1. When I wrote on my twitter “Seeing her (while refusing to be seen with her) would be the ultimate hypocrisy. Good for Jimmy G.” I got lots of positive responses from women.

      Garoppolo’s market popularity could skyrocket if he’s seen treating her with respect in public.

  5. Thanks for the report Grant. To be honest, at this point I am not too concerned about who looks good and who doesn’t- as razor said, things change once the pads go on. But it sure is nice to have some football again!

    1. Right. If Pettis plays great during the preseason, no one will care how he played during training camp.

      1. Of course it would still be nice if he looked great now. But yeah, football players don’t get remembered for looking good in practice.

  6. 3.”Garoppolo and Garcon have no chemistry yet.” The key word is yet. See your prior sentence. “Goodwin remains Garoppolo’s favorite target – those two built chemistry last season.”

    1.”Sherman looks slow.” First day, but something to monitor. Jet is going to make a lot of defenders look slow this year.

    5. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. How did his footwork look, on deeper passes in particular?

  7. Funny, without even reading the article I wrote down on a piece of paper who would be on the “not so good” list just for the hell of it. I wrote Sherman, Thomas, Garoppolo, Pettis and for good measure, KS. I missed Witherspoon, and am shocked that there wasn’t a swipe at Kyle. I would have wrote Hyde if he was still on the team but in essence I still got it because Grant slammed him once again in the McKinnon comment. So predictable. Love the unbiased reporting. Thanks Grant. (huge eye roll)

    1. lol, so true. Grant has a hit list, and the names you mentioned will always have the most scrutiny. Poor Pettis, hope he doesn’t read this blog.

        1. Don’t forget about you tripping Solomon so he couldn’t set the edge…

        2. Some comments are not worth reading Grant. Just ignore.
          Most appreciate your commentary and perspective. Even if I don’t always agree with the latter.
          Keep up the good work. And don’t get influenced by the unjustified criticisms of unhappy people.
          Thamks. (:

  8. “Allowed practice to end without demanding more reps to correct his mistakes. Is that what Tom Brady would have done?”

    The answer is absolutely yes grant! In Tom Bradys first season as the starting QB that’s exactly how he’d act.

    1. I wonder if Grant ever demanded to stay after school to keep working on his quadratic equations until he got solution process down cold.

  9. JG was 4 for 9. If Goodwin(?) did not drop that slant pass, and Kittle protected the ball better so it was not ripped away for an incompletion, JG would have been 6 for 9 which is a 67% completion rate.
    Armstead also batted down a pass, so it was not an accuracy issue problem.
    Sounds like the defense was better than the offense, but that is to be expected in a first practice. The defense just reacted, while the offense needs to develop rhythm and timing.
    Glad to hear that JG varied the snap count and managed to draw Armstead offside. Wonder if they blew the play dead, or if they morphed the free play into a long pass down field.

    1. Exactly. 4/9 is hardly a big enough sample size to make a real judgement. 1 batted pass or 1 dropped pass is going to swing his completion percentage over 10%!!!

      It’s the first day of camp and the defense ALWAYS seems to be ahead of the offense at this point of year. Huge over-reaction on Grant’s part, especially his huge rant on Periscope.

    2. If Goodwin(?) did not drop that slant pass, and Kittle protected the ball better so it was not ripped away for an incompletion, JG would have been 6 for 9 which is a 67% completion rate.

      If your aunt had a Johnson, she’d be your uncle.

  10. Thanks Grant. Really excited about Ritchie James. He’s a keeper :)

    Were there any false starts or offensive line penalties?
    How was Fred Warner? Do you think he will start in place of the oft injured Malcolm smith?
    One player I really liked last year was Chancellor James, but he got injured. Did he catch your eye in practice?

  11. Read Jennifer Lee Chan’s account where she details each rep. In 11on11 drills, Garoppolo was 4/9. In 7on7 drills, Garoppolo was 5/7. Total was 9/16.

  12. I guess I’d add to the Not So Good List – Joe Williams. He didn’t even get a mention which means he didn’t stick out in any way. Hopefully, he turns it up a notch. Otherwise, what a freaking waste.

      1. That says to me that Williams must beat out Breida or Mostert for the #2 job or he won’t make the team. I don’t see Williams adding anything on special teams so he has to add substantial value as a runner. If you’re the 3rd string RB but don’t add value on special teams I just don’t see how you make the team.

        1. Considering how hard Shanahan fought to draft Williams, I doubt he’ll cut Williams a year later simply because he doesn’t provide value on special teams.

          1. You may be right but that was 2 drafts and a full year IR designation ago. The bloom may be off that rose.

              1. So then exactly like I said, 2 drafts and a full year IR designation ago. Thanks for clarifying.

              2. I think your time line is a little off. It’s been one year since they drafted him and the same year out him on IR.The teams choice so how can they be giving up on him when he hasn’t even practiced since 2017, which is a year not 2.
                You act like they’ve drafted 2 more years since taking him

              3. No. I’m acting like it’s been a very busy week and meeting my wife at our local spot to sip on a Johnnie Walker Black seems pretty good right about now. May even spring for the blue label.

                I’m writing that Williams was drafted in the 4th round in 2017 after Shanny said he wanted him. Since then Williams was placed on IR and by all reports did not practice with enough urgency when he did practice. For a guy who quit on his college team, this is not a good look. Cutting a 4th round pick in year 2 is not a huge expense for the team so I highly doubt the reasons Shanahan lobbied to draft Williams apply any longer.

    1. I’m really hoping Williams makes it because he’s the most explosive RB on the roster imo. He has a burst that could result in some big plays in this system.

      1. I know the coaches like Breida but, honestly Breida looked like an average to below average #2 back to me last year. If Williams can really live up to the potential everyone keeps praising him for then maybe a McKinnon/Williams combo could be pretty good.

        1. I think they could wind up keeping all 3 and Mostart for ST’s. 5 RB’s including Jus isn’t out of the ordinary.

          1. They could make that pill easier to swallow by carrying only 8 offensive lineman. They’ll also have an open roster spot thanks to Foster. They could use those 2 weeks to evaluate further who should be the last cut….

  13. Let’s get the pads on, get the blinders off, and have the grace to accept that we’re just beginning day two of training camp. Day two…

  14. Synchronicity with come between Garcon and Garoppolo the same way it came with Goodwin, Kittle and T Taylor.

  15. Grant sucks. What real evaluation experience does he have? Oh right, nothing except for the “my daddy did this, so I can too” card.

    1. Grant is a chip off the old block. If he could match a 37 year illustrious career, he would be legendary, too.
      For many years, Lowell Cohn was a must read in the green section.
      Grant, following in his footsteps, gives me insights and perspectives that I find illuminating and entertaining. Just the fact that you wasted your time to write a screed means that he affects your thinking. Jealousy is a vice. You only wish you had a smidgen of his writing ability.
      Grant writes so effectively, I feel like I am standing next to him in the practices. Grant was the very first sports writer to nail the assessment of Bowman last season, and he is giving us an honest evaluation of Pettis, warts and all. That said, I sure hope he is wrong, and Pettis can score 10 TDs.

  16. To be fair to both Brieda and Mckinnon I don’t think you can accurately judge them in terms of running ability at this stage. You can judge their hands, cutting ability and explosion but without seeing how they handle contact, it means little.

  17. Last year (I think) you also gave us the reaction of the coaches to the inaction and mistakes.
    How did the Kyle do?

    1. Cute sebby, but I wasn’t asking you even though I know that you think everything revolves around you.
      And I can see you no longer are a REAL niner fan but instead like to dwell on the negative…….

      1. Dee, quit leading with your chin. If you did not want an answer, do not cavalierly ask a question.
        Guess you like to dish it out, but cannot take it. I expected better from you.
        A REAL Niner fan will stick with them, even though they have a 2 win record. I have done that, and I bleed red and gold.
        Dwell on the negative? No, just keeping it real.

        1. Sebbie, I know that reading comprehension is not your strongest suit, but after I spelled it out for you that the Q was not for you, I was expecting better from you. My bad.

          Last season stats are NOT relevant for the new season…..

          1. Dee, you have thrown snark at me, so I was just returning the favor.
            I just typed 5 words, but I guess I hit a nerve.
            Since you are begging me to leave you alone, I guess I will take pity on you.
            The best course of action should have been to just ignore my comment, but you could not resist.

            1. SEBBS………..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              You can give me your holier-than-thou stuff anytime!!!!

              If it came right down to it, I’d probably pay you to hear your insults!!
              You bust me up……………..

              In other words, some guys got it, some guys dont–you got it!

    1. Hence the dire need in this league for a franchise QB who can move effectively within a muddy pocket and get rid off the ball quick.

  18. Seb I’ve always agreed like you that Grant is an excellent writer, more so with personal pieces than with player analysis, only because, like all of us, he has biases, and in my view he unfortunately allows those biases to filter into his thought process. They are so obvious. Nevertheless, he is our eyes and ears and does a good job overall of relaying what he sees to us. You just have to weed your way through the bias. The fact that I could write down those names (and I did) and almost nail it is pretty telling.
    Comparing him to his father is ridiculous to those that do. I sure , also like you, I grew up reading Lowell and rarely missed one of his pieces. To insinuate that Grant got his job because of him is ludicrous. Hard work and dedication is what has made him who he is today.

    1. Juan, I want to profusely apologize if you think I implied Grant got his gig solely due to nepotism. He studied English at UCLA, so he is verbose, and can turn a phrase.
      Grant’s work speaks for itself. However, I remember how Lowell would criticize Walsh and dare Bill to prove him wrong. Grant, by emphasizing the weaknesses, is just identifying areas to improve. They do have different styles, but both hit hard and generate debate.
      Following in his footsteps just means he has also become a sports writer. That is not like Jed becoming owner because his father handed him the job with few qualifications. That is another form of following in his footsteps, but that has a negative connotation.
      I agree, Grant has worked hard at his craft, and he seemed dedicated and focused on his career. I also mentioned that Grant would have to hone his craft for 37 tears before there could be any fair comparison. Media is evolving, so fast that the good ol’ days are just a pleasant memory, and will never be repeated.

  19. Looks like the Chargers might have lost Jason Verrett for the season. Tough blow on the opening day of camp. Good news for SF though potentially.

    1. I was going to post that too. I feel really bad for that kid. Really good player that just can’t stay healthy. Reminds me of Bob Sanders in regards to the caliber of player being held back by injury.

    2. Latest news is that he tore his achilles during a conditioning test. Ward suffered an injury last year also during his conditioning test. That injury kept him out of a number of games to start the season. I’ve kind of been puzzled by these kinds of injuries for supposedly elite athletes. Also, I took particular note of Shanahan’s statement on Wednesday that the conditioning test the guys took on Wednesday was “not a very tough one” and he expects everyone to pass it.

        1. Every year like clockwork, the Chargers suffer a key injury before they play a game.

          1. I know a few athletes who like to find a competitive medium stress activity prior to camp so they push, through change-of-direction moves, their muscles and tendons a bit before applying maximum stress during TC. Tennis, Basketball, even FA ketball, badminton or yoga or dance or maybe surfing. Brady has long proposed that flexibility is more important than bulk muscle mass.
            I feel bad for this young man, very much like Sanders, in his struggles. He starred at Santa Rosa juvie.

  20. I have to say as much as everyones hates on grant for being negative… it’s needed in evaluations and he’s usually pretty spot on… I enjoy reading his evals over most of the reporters at camp

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