Day 5: The good and not so good from training camp

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) stretches during NFL football practice at the team’s headquarters Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

SANTA CLARA – Here’s who stood out during the third padded practice of training camp.


1. DT Solomon Thomas. Notice I didn’t write DE Solomon Thomas. He’s not particularly good at defensive end, and may be the worst starting edge rusher in the NFL, but he’s effective when he rushes from the interior. Or, at least he was effective Tuesday. We didn’t see him rush much from the interior as a rookie. In training camp, he has rushed exclusively from the interior during one-on-one pass-rush drills and, on Tuesday, he beat starting left guard Laken Tomlinson twice during one on one drills. Beat him with a quick first step and forced the quarterback step up in the pocket. Later during 11 on 11s, Thomas beat Tomlinson again and recorded a sack.

2. NT Earl Mitchell. Overpowered starting center Weston Richburg both times they faced each other during one on ones.

3. DT DeForest Buckner. Ran over Tomlinson to record a sack in 11 on 11s, and beat starting left tackle Joe Staley around the edge in the same drill. Buckner is by far the best player on the 49ers. Losing him would devastate the team.

4. FS Adrian Colbert. Picked off Jimmy Garoppolo on fourth-and-2 and returned the ball 70 yards for a touchdown on the final play of practice for the starters. That was the best play of training camp by the defense.

5. LB Malcolm Smith. Returned to practice after missing the first four days of training camp with a lower leg injury. Even took reps with the starters during team drills.

6. LB Fred Warner. Also took reps with the starters during team drills. Made an excellent stop on second-and-5. Garoppolo threw a screen pass to running back Jerick McKinnon, and Warner tackled him after just a three-yard gain.

7. RB Matt Breida. Took all the first-down reps with the starters during the first 11-on-11 period. That’s when the offense practiced runs and play-action passes against the base defense. McKinnon took all the second-down reps with the starters during this drill.

8. TE George Kittle. Caught a 50-yard pass up the right sideline from backup quarterback C.J. Beathard on first-and-10. Beat backup strong safety Chancellor James on the play.

9. TE Garrett Celek. Caught a 20-yard pass from Garoppolo on third-and-4. Reached up with one hand and tipped the ball to himself. Beat starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt on the play.

10. WR Aaron Burbridge. Caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Beathard. Drew a holding penalty from backup cornerback Tyvis Powell on the play and still made the catch.

11. WR Richie James. Caught a 40-yard play-action pass from Garoppolo. Beat Chancellor James on the play. Has a legitimate chance to make the final roster, along with Burbridge, Dante Pettis and Kendrick Bourne. Those four receivers are competing for three backup spots.


1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Had an almost perfect practice until his final play, when he telegraphed a pass over the middle to Marquise Goodwin and threw a pick-six. Bad way to end the day.

2. LG Laken Tomlinson. Gave up two sacks during team drills – one to Thomas and one to Buckner – and lost all four of his reps during one-on-one drills (Tomlinson faced Thomas twice and Buckner twice). The reps against Buckner troubled former 49ers defensive end Charles Haley the most. He was watching from the sideline, and noticed how easily Buckner caved in Tomlinson’s outside shoulder and turned him perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. Tomlinson had trouble staying square all morning.

3. C Weston Richburg. Couldn’t hold his ground while blocking starting nose tackle Earl Mitchell during one on ones. Twice, Mitchell pushed him into the quarterback’s lap.

4. RG Joshua Garnett. Missed his third day with a left knee injury – the same knee he injured last year during training camp.

5. RG Mike Person. Started at right guard in place of Garnett, and struggled during a two-on-two pass-rush drill, when he and starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey couldn’t pass off a stunt to save their lives. Each fell once.

6. RT Mike McGlinchey. Beaten again by Cassius Marsh during one on ones, and beaten the same way as before. McGlinchey overreacted to an outside speed rush, and Marsh hit him with a counter move to the inside. Happened on Satuday, too.

7. WR Dante Pettis. Made a contested catch over the middle – his first all offseason. A big step for him. Then he fumbled. Pettis clearly is uncomfortable catching passes in traffic, and will continue to struggle until he gets a better feel for defensive coverages in the NFL. One on one, he’s great. He’s like a basketball player in a driveway. But during team drills, he has no idea where the safeties and linebackers are coming from, and he’s tentative.

8. DT Arik Armstead. Missed practice with a serious hamstring injury which could linger into the regular season. The guy lasted four days.

9. SS Jaquiski Tartt. Gave up a 20-yard catch to Kittle on first-and-10. Gave up a 15-yard catch to Celek on third-and-4. And gave up a 12-yard catch to Victor Bolden Jr. on third-and-9. Broke up zero passes.

10. CB Richard Sherman. Didn’t face Marquise Goodwin during one on ones this time. Instead, faced Pierre Garcon, who is much slower than Goodwin. Still got burned twice. Garcon ran simple go routes and beat Sherman by a couple steps each time. But, Sherman gave up only one long catch, because the other long pass was overthrown.

This article has 61 Comments

  1. 8. DT Arik Armstead Missed practice with a serious hamstring injury …

    FFS, they just don’t learn with this guy. They missed another off season that they could have dumped him and now they’ll be on the hook for another wasted non-productive year from him. Lynch really isn’t proving to be any better then his predecessor at selling high on players before the rest of the league figures out they’re garbage.

    Haven’t heard much about Joe Williams since the first day or two.

  2. 10. CB Richard Sherman. Didn’t face Marquise Goodwin during one on ones this time. Instead, faced Pierre Garcon, who is much slower than Goodwin. Still got burned twice. Garcon ran simple go routes and beat Sherman by a couple steps each time. But, Sherman gave up only one long catch, because the other long pass was overthrown
    Yea but he’s a good coach and mentor….

  3. “Garoppolo threw a screen pass to running back Jerick McKinnon, and Warner tackled him after just a three-yard gain.”

    Good job by the rookie bringing down the elusive Jet, no easy feat.

    “Had an almost perfect practice…”

    Sounds good to me. The last and lone INT shouldn’t put him in the “not so good” IMO.

    1. Absolutely agree. Kyle said that they tried something a little different with Goodwin on that play. So maybe they learned that they shouldn’t run it that way. That’s one of the things practice is for.

    2. This is Grant “I’m positive guy” you’re talking about. If there is a way to spin something negatively, he’ll find it. It’s his only true talent. A near perfect practice with one pick lands a guy on the “not good” list. Never mind the nearly 20 other throws, let’s focus on one throw (on a 4th down play, no less) to draw a negative conclusion. I’m surprised he didn’t throw in a comment about the INT being an example of Garappolo’s lack of professionalism….

  4. My biggest concern is right guard, right tackle. It still early but the film I’ve seen on McGlinchey I am not impressed. And Garnett lasted three days.. Right now I am hoping I am wrong on McGlinchey and that somehow one of the camp bodies surprises. Otherwise it’s Jimmy G dinking and dunking like last season. He is a master at it but you need big plays to be a really good, competitive offense. And big plays require time and pass protection.. Dallas will be a good team to open up preseason..

    1. big passing plays should come off of play action. which requires a good run game and linemen that can run block.

      the offenses isn’t going to change to a vertical Air Coryell offense. It’s west coast passing concepts and play action passes.

      1. We are going to make Suh/Donald run sideline to sideline, and attack the Rams linebackers with McKinnon.

  5. Shanahan seemed to hint Colbert may have been out of position and a bit lucky on the interception. Any truth to this Grant or am I misinterpreting his quote?

  6. Dear ShanahanSalah… in college Solomon Thomas was good vs the run at DE, and good vs the pass inside. Please deploy Solomon in a similar way.

    If Jaquiski Tartt’s bad day becomes a trend, sign Reid to a one year prove it deal?

    Pettis having “no idea where the safeties and linebackers are coming from” may be the reason he’s tentative. Could his comfort level in traffic improve with experience? A player (Garcon?) suggested Pettis will emerge in the latter half of the season.

    How did Pettis catch in traffic in college?

    How is DJ Jones in pass rush drills?

  7. Good: For the most part I like the players the 49ers drafted. Trading up for Pettis makes a little more sense after each practice. Route Running+Body Control+Balance After Catch+Hands usually turns out well.

    Concern: The 49ers will likely go into the 2019 off-season with similar needs as the 2018 off-season. Edge Rusher + Offensive Line.

    Ironic since BPA like Derwin James was skipped to fill a need for run blocking OT. (Position importance of OT a factor).

    But it’s training camp. A time to under-react to everything I hear. What I believe to be true now will probably change several times until April 2019.

    1. “Concern: The 49ers will likely go into the 2019 off-season with similar needs as the 2018 off-season. Edge Rusher + Offensive Line.”

      This was the major question after the draft and free agency. The niners main concerns were edge rusher and both offensive Guards. They addressed neither, granted Trent was hot garbage in terms of run blocking and they would have needed to replace him eventually. However, it seems to me you would want to protect the massive investment you made at qb first.

      1. a strong run game and an effective play action passing game built off of the run game are the best things a team can do to protect a QB

        1. That’s true, but how well will that run game work if the guards are constantly blown back into the backfield? Instant interior penetration will ruin a majority of the plays in a playbook be it run or pass and that’s why there is some concern regarding the approach the team has taken in the rebuild.

          1. most of the time in the run game the lineman’s job is not is not to simply take a defender one on one and simply knock him off back off the line. The run blocking used is more positional and tends to rely more on movement, angles and leverage as opposed to simply straight up knocking the defender back off the line of scrimmage. While the O-lineman still needs to be powerful his quickness and agility are as much or greater assets than brute strength.

            Also remember that in an actual game/scrimmage, the defensive lineman have to read their blockers to figure out the play while the O-lineman know where they’re going which gives them a split second advantage for getting into the right blocking position for the play. In simple one on one match ups the defender knows from the snap that he’s just going to plow forward into the O-lineman. Richburg is a lot of things but a brute strength defender has never been one of them. Tomlinson is going to over power anybody either….but again…that’s not really his primary job.

            1. AFFP,
              All good points. The difference between these one-on-one practice reps and actual play execution is particularly large in Shanny’s OZ scheme compared to Harbaugh’s power run scheme.

            2. I understand all that AFFP. However, there are a few clarifications that need to be made. Whether the block is a reach, pull, down or whatever… the blocker can’t get washed out into the play by giving up to much penetration. That’s why coaches teach players to get their head across.
              Also defenders reading is somewhat dependant on the defensive scheme. The Seattle scheme is a hybrid that normally has one DL reading and 3 that are trying to penetrate a gap first, reading the play is secondary. Due to this, they are a terrible matchup for offenses that run the outside zone predominantly. Regardless, in this scenario it mimics 3rd and long, where both sides know a pass is coming. In that case the guards can’t get opened up or tossed back into the QB.

        2. That’s why it was imperative to procure a RT/RB that can execute in Shanny’s running game. Jimmy will get more comfortable turning his back to the line. Something he hasn’t done very much….

          1. Might have boiled down to this in Shanahan’s mind: “Can I use my entire playbook with Trent Brown at OT?”

            The answer was “no”

            1. Excellent way to understand Kyle’s approach to assessing players for his offense…

              “Can I use my entire playbook with [insert player name] at [insert position]?”

        3. Agree a good run game helps play action, which slows the pass rush. The major draft/FA investments this off-season were the run game. The law firm of Richburg, McKinnon and McGlinchy intends to pound the rock.

  8. The competition level of this camp seems elevated over last year, except for RG. That should change once Super Duper Cooper enters the fray….

  9. Alright so here’s the breakdown on Grant’s practice reports related to the most important position group on the team:

    Offensive Line
    Day 1: Good -0 // Not So Good – 0
    Day 2: Good -0 // Not So Good – 1
    Day 3: Good -1 // Not So Good – 2
    Day 4: Good -1 // Not So Good – 1
    Day 5: Good -0 // Not So Good – 5

    Total: Good -2 // Not So Good – 9

    That doesn’t look so good for the 49ers Oline. The only guy to get a “Good” from Grant was Laken Tomlinson. He was noticed in the positive column twice. I have been skeptical about the o-line for awhile so this is a bit concerning. Staley is solid. McGlinchy is a rookie. Everything in between is a giant crapshoot.

  10. Not a concern with one on one results, concerning oline & dline, its a much different situation when you are lining up on the line with TEs & RBs chipping, staying in to block, different blocking assignments, etc.

    WRs & DBs is more akin to actual game situation, being out on islands.

  11. It may turn out that learning how not to tip Sherman in practice will be Garoppolos ticket to elite. At heart he’s a gunslinger with a great release, but he needs to disguise his intent better and stay off that back foot. Interceptions undo a lot of good work

  12. Sigh…some things never change, like Sherman beating a wide receiver to the ball thrown by a 49er QB on a corner fade route in the end zone

    1. Assuming his knee mends, he could be traded, but likely for nothing better than a 6th round pick. If a few teams lose key guards in the preseason, then Garnett could become desirable, but only to those teams where his strengths could contribute–a system match. Wouldn’t surprise me if he is released somewhere downstream…

      1. Thanks for replying to my post Cassie. Agreed. Think he offers value from his years at Stanford but just hasn’t quite transferred that to the NFL. Maybe if he’s traded to a good fit, they’ll place him as back-up but I’m with you and could see him released somewhere downstream. Went to school with one of Garnett’s trainers and he told me that at 49ers OTAs his knee seemed to not have healed 100% since his surgery but no one is really talking about this. Actually took him out for a bit towards the end of OTAs because of it. Not good news that he injured it again and sounds like there’s inflammation and swelling (he got an anti-inflammatory shot yesterday). Guess we’ll wait n see.

    1. I was hoping that there might be a trade with the Chargers, even if that means the niners pickup some (say around 2 million) of Ward’s salary. In principle, I don’t see why this trade couldn’t be made, but I don’t know if there is much precedent for this type of trade.

  13. Apparently, Julian Taylor is looking good again. Couldn’t the team hold AA out until he passes a physical and then release him to save the 9 million in the fifth-year option.

    1. wouldn’t it make more sense to trade him? I’m not advocating getting rid of the guy. When he’s not injured he’s a decent player. I could see a team that needs a strong 4/5/6 tech…especially in a 2 gap scheme believing Armstead could be of some value to them.

      1. If Crennel is still running the defense for the Texans, maybe they’d be the right team to do business with.

        1. more teams than you’d suspect implement 2 gapping technique to varying degrees in their defense. In fact having a guy that can both one and 2 gap effectively adds to the possibility that a defense will employee more 1 gap and 2 gap flexibility. It’s one of the reasons I was extremely surprised when Armstead was made the LEO last year. To me he would have been the perfect Closed End and could provide that kind of scheme flexibility if Saleh wanted to employ it (which he didn’t….he wanted to keep things simple….at least in his first year). Hopefully if Armstead sticks around and is now playing the Closed End position he’ll yield even better results

      2. Thanks. Yes, it makes more sense to trade him. I guess I’ve already made up my mind subconsciously that they’ll have difficulty trading him because of the 5th year option amount of 9 million. I’m just not sure what market is available for him due to the fact that he doesn’t do well on the most important “ability”, which is “availability”.

        1. the 5th year options is just an option. His extension can be negotiated at whatever the amount…..likely starting with $9M as part of the guarantee….but it’s not like it has to be $9M/Y. So any team that wants to trade for him and wants to hold on to him isn’t locked into paying the option price…’s simply a one year option if they want to use it.

  14. Matt Woolsey?
    Replying to @DanHanzus
    Do you guys view the #49ers as a double digit win team in 2018? #DotComMailbag

    6:51 PM – Jul 30, 2018
    See Matt Woolsey?’s other Tweets
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    That’s asking a lot. The arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo lit a fire under a proud franchise that had fallen on irrelevant times, but winning five straight games to close out last season doesn’t mean we’re suddenly looking at a revival of the Montana & Young Glory Boy Express.

    The biggest issue lies on the defensive side of the ball, where there are concerns on each level. The team has pumped major draft resources — i.e., first-round picks Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas — into the defensive line, but those investments have yet to yield terror for opposing QBs. Reuben Foster is a difference-maker at linebacker, but he’s also a troublemaker — and it’s keeping him off the field to start the season. Meanwhile, the addition of Richard Sherman was fun and flashy, but can we expect him to be the shutdown corner of his prime? Hard to see it.

    An elite quarterback can cover up a lot of blemishes, of course, so how you feel about the 49ers really goes back to how far up you’re sitting on the Jimmy G bandwagon. Me, I’m in a middle seat about 10 rows back. My prediction: The Niners will be entertaining and competitive … but they won’t be quite ready to kick down the door in the loaded NFC. They’ll be knocking, though. 9-7.

  15. Off topic, but who do you guys see Ohio State hiring as their next football with the increasing possibility that Urban Meyer could be forced out the door?

  16. Always enjoy the comments on this blog. Have a hard time worrying about the team during training camp, particularly this early.
    That being said I would like them to sit Sherman for about 3 days to let him rest. They should do the same with Staley, keep the veterans fresh and avoid injuries. I think they both know how to play their positions.

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