The San Francisco 49ers have canceled their final week of OTA practices, which means the next time the team convenes in Santa Clara will come in late July for the start of training camp.
Here are the top five takeaways from the 49ers offseason workouts as they head into their summer vacation.
San Francisco has dealt with injuries throughout Kyle Shanahan’s tenure. The best news for the 49ers heading into the summer is that they are healthy other than a few minor issues.
Several players the 49ers will depend on heavily in 2022 did not participate in on-field activities this offseason.
Mike McGlinchey and Javon Kinlaw are both on track to be ready for training camp after having last season cut short by injuries. Both were on hand for workouts but in a spectating capacity, as were George Kittle, Fred Warner, and others.
2. Trey Lance was solid.
Despite his readiness to take over the starting quarterback position constantly being in question this offseason, Lance was solid and consistent throughout the offseason workouts.
During the practice sessions open to the media, Lance completed 50 of 67 passes and had six touchdowns to only two interceptions.
Lance showed off a shortened throwing motion, but this did nothing to limit his ability to hit throws at all levels of the field and hit several tight-window throws.
Perhaps even more important than his play on the field, Lance appeared to feel comfortable taking on more of a leadership role. The quarterback was vocal with teammates on the field, and when he stepped to the podium to speak with the media, he was much more candid and looser than he was as a rookie.
3. Competition at nickelback
After losing veteran K’Waun Williams to Denver during free agency, San Francisco has a hole to fill at nickelback.
Darqueze Dennard appears to be the leader in the clubhouse at this point. The former first-round pick joined the 49ers late during the 2021 season and played the second half of their week 18 come-from-behind victory over Los Angeles.
Dennard doesn’t have much experience in the slot, but the veteran looks comfortable in both man and zone coverage on the inside and has the size necessary to help in the run game.
The primary competition for Dennard is coming from fifth-round draft pick Samuel Womack.
Womack played primarily on the outside at Toledo and during the early portion of offseason practices. During week two of OTA practices and last week during mini-camp Womack lined up almost exclusively inside.
Womack displayed the ability to stick with receivers when lined up in man coverage, but he will need to develop a better feel for zone coverage when lined up inside.
When watching Womack, the one concern is his ability to hold up in run defense. The nickelback is like a third linebacker against the run, an underappreciated aspect of K’Waun Williams’ game during his time with San Francisco. The 5-foot-9, 189-pound corner will need to show he can step up and make the tackles inside.
4. Interior offensive line
The interior of San Francisco’s offensive line has been a question mark this offseason after losing left guard Laken Tomlinson to the New York Jets in free agency and veteran center Alex Mack announcing his retirement on June 3.
San Francisco chose not to address either position in free agency or the draft. They drafted Aaron Banks in the second round last year, and he looks ready to step in at left guard. Banks transformed his body this offseason, keeping his weight the same but converting mass to muscle. His strength and agility looked good during OTA practices and mini-camp.
At center, all signs point towards Jake Brendel moving into the starting lineup.
While most 49ers fans are unfamiliar with Brendel, San Francisco’s offensive line coach Chris Foerster knows him quite well. Foerster was the offensive line coach in Miami when the Dolphins signed Brendel to their practice squad in 2016.
According to Kyle Shanahan, Foerster lobbied for the 49ers to sign Brendel in 2020.
Brendel looked solid throughout OTA and mini-camp practices. The former UCLA Bruin has good movement skills. During the 2016 NFL combine, Brendel posted numbers in the 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill, better than Jason Poe, who became a media darling due to his workout videos before this year’s draft.
One interesting note from practices is while the rest of the offensive linemen working with the first team moved around to various positions, Banks and Brendel were the only two who took every snap in one spot.
5. Deebo Samuel
The veteran wide receiver made his first appearance at 49ers practices this offseason.
Samuel did not participate in any drills with the team, instead doing light work on the side.
During Wednesday’s practice, Samuel played catch with fellow receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings and was very vocal in supporting his teammates during 7-on-7 and team drills.
Considering how invested Samuel was during practices, it is hard to see him not back with the team in 2022 despite still not having a new deal in place yet. Expect something to get done on the contract front around the start of training camp in late July.