SANTA CLARA – Here’s who stood out to me during the second padded practice of training camp.
1. RB Jerick McKinnon. Caught a screen pass and picked up 20 yards. Later, ran a wheel route, burned linebacker Korey Toomer and caught a 40-yard pass up the left sideline. McKinnon is one of the best receivers on the team and he’s not even a receiver. He will catch at least 70 passes this season if he stays healthy.
2. WR Pierre Garcon. Made his first two catches of training camp. Beat nickel back K’Waun Williams with an out route, and corner Tyvis Powell with a dig. Also beat Richard Sherman with a go route up the right sideline, but Garoppolo threw a back-shoulder fade behind Garcon, who kept running deep. The ball landed out of bounds.
3. WR Dante Pettis. Apparently embarrassed every corner he faced during one-on-one drills. I didn’t see exactly. I was filming the linemen on the other end of the field. Every minute and a half, fans in the bleachers would yell and cheer, then I’d look over and see Pettis wide open about to catch the ball. He’s like a basketball player with a killer crossover. I watched him carefully during team drills. He ran a jet sweep and gained 15 yards. And he ran two deep outs and beat Tarvarus McFadden and Tarvarius Moore. Pettis thrives when he’s one on one against a defender.
4. TE George Kittle. Caught the first pass of practice – a tight end screen. Gained 15 yards after the catch. Decidedly more agile and explosive than last season. Seems to have become the fulltime starter at tight end.
5. OG Laken Tomlinson. Won every rep during one-on-one pass-rush drills for the second day in a row, although today’s drill technically was two-on-two. Tomlinson and Joe Staley faced Arik Armstead and Sheldon Day, who used twists and stunts but got nowhere. Tomlinson and Staley couldn’t have blocked them any better.
6. CB K’Waun Williams. Flew. It was third and seven, and Jimmy Garoppolo threw a 10-yard pass to George Kittle, who seemed open, until Williams dove and knocked the ball away. Still the most consistent corner on the team.
7. CB Jimmie Ward. Played linebacker in the dime defense, which technically made him a dime back. Clever way to use him. On his first rep at dime back, Ward blitzed around the left edge and stripped Garoppolo. Maybe this is Ward’s natural position.
8. CB D.J. Reed. The backup nickelback. Intercepted a pass intended for Pettis during 11 on 11s. Outjumped and outmuscled him for the ball.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. CB Richard Sherman. Marquise Goodwin smoked him during one on ones. Sherman looked alarmingly slow, like he would run a 4.7 or a 4.8 in the 40-yard dash.
2. CB Tarvarius Moore. Gave up an acre of separation to Pettis, who left him in the dust with a deep out route. I haven’t seen a 49ers corner get beat that badly since Dontae Johnson last year.
3. FS Adrian Colbert. Gave up a deep pass to McKinnon, and later dropped an interception. The drop in particular bothered defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. “There’s a difference between being a good and great defense,” Saleh said. “Good defenses play pass breakup and tackle football. Other defenses get the ball and score. When you get those opportunities, you’ve got to come down with it. They’re not dropping them on purpose, but there’s a mindfulness and a relentlessness to take the ball. When the opportunity actually gives it to you, you’ve got to come down with it. That message hasn’t changed. We actually talked about it yesterday. It happened a couple times yesterday.”
4. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Completed just 9 of 16 passes (56 percent), fumbled and threw the pass Colbert should have picked off.
5. WR Dante Pettis. Watched Reed intercept a pass right in from of him, and later dropped a pass over the middle because he took his eyes of the ball, anticipating contact. The ball bounced off Antone Exum’s hands and fell incomplete. Pettis is a good punt returner and he can beat man-to-man coverage as a receiver, but he’s not a physical player. He’s a finesse player.
6. OG Joshua Garnett. Missed practice with a knee injury. The 49ers say he banged it during practice and the injury isn’t serious. Still, it’s troubling he couldn’t stay healthy for more three days.