Observations from Day 1 of 49ers mini-camp

The 49ers held their first of two mandatory veteran mini-camp practices Tuesday morning. Here is what stood out.

Trey Lance

This was by far the best Lance has looked during the three offseason practices open to the media. Lance finished the day 9-14 with three touchdowns.

During a redzone seven-on-seven session Lance hit on three of five attempts. All three of Lance’s completions resulted in touchdowns, the best coming when he hit Jauan Jennings in the back left corner of the endzone.

Team drills started a bit rough for Lance.

On the first play, Lance dropped back after play action and had rookie Cameron Latu open on a deep over route, but the throw came up short. On the next play, Lance’s throw off boot action to Ray Ray McCloud was broken up by cornerback A,J. Parker.

Lance was nearly perfect the rest of the way, connecting on six of his final seven throws.

After a pair of checkdown throws, Lance ripped a deep out to Ray Ray McCloud along the right sideline.

Lance’s final three throws of the day were a completion to Brandon Aiyuk on a dig route off play action, a deep in route to Danny Gray which he layered over the underneath linebackers and a throw up the seam to McCloud in front of rookie Ji’Ayir Brown.

Sam Darnold

Darnold’s day featured a strong start and finish with a dip in the middle. The veteran quarterback finished the practice 8-12.

Taking reps with the first unit Darnold completed four of five attempts with two touchdowns during a redzone seven-on-seven session. The only incompletion for Darnold was a drop from Danny Gray in the endzone.

On the first play of team drills, Darnold good coverage downfield and pressure from the defensive line forced the quarterback out to his right where he connected with Christian McCaffrey for a gain of five.

The next play nearly produced the first interception by either quarterback during offseason practices open to the media.

Working off play action, Darnold tried to fit the ball in to Brandon Aiyuk who was running an in route. However, cornerback Deommodore Lenoir had good positioning on the wide receiver. Lenoir got both hands on the ball but was not able to hold on.

Darnold finished practice with a pair of nice throws.

First was a deep ball down the left sideline to Brandon Aiyuk. The throw came up short, but Aiyuk was able to bring it in for a gain of about 35 yards.

Darnold followed the deep completion by finding Danny Gray on a crossing route for another big gain.

Brandon Allen

Allen came into today’s practice without an incompletion in front of the media. He missed both of his first two throws before getting back on track and hitting the final four.

Brandon Aiyuk

Aiyuk caught three of four targets, including a touchdown from Sam Darnold.

The fourth year wideout has been impressive throughout offseason workouts, prompting Deebo Samuel to say, “you can’t cover him (Aiyuk) in a phone booth right now.”

In addition to the touchdown, Aiyuk reeled in a deep ball from Darnold down the left sideline. He also made a big gain on a throw over the middle from Lance, making Ji’Ayir Brown miss with a nice shake after the catch.

Danny Gray

Gray opened practice by dropping a Sam Darnold pass in the endzone.

The second-year receiver shook off the rough start by beating Deommodore Lenoir across the field for a big gain on a completion from Darnold.

Gray wasn’t done there. Late in practice Trey Lance hit him on a deep in route and Gray sprinted past the safety untouched for a big gain.

Deommodore Lenoir

Lenoir has looked strong during offseason practices. Today the third-year cornerback was all over Brandon Aiyuk on a route across the middle. Lenoir was able to undercut Aiyuk and nearly came away with an interception.

Oren Burks

Burks is proving he is more than just a special teams ace.

Today the linebacker was able to break up a pair of underneath throws from Sam Darnold intended for Christian McCaffrey and rookie Brayden Willis.

Ji’Ayir Brown

The rookie third round pick has not made a play on the ball in any of the three practices open to the media.

During one stretch today, Trey Lance completed three passes in a row in front of Brown. On two of those Brown was unable to even get a hand on the wide receiver after the catch.

Spencer Waege

The undrafted free agent defensive tackle from North Dakota State continues to impress. Today saw Waege get down the line of scrimmage on an outside zone run and be in position to make the tackle on Jordan Mason.

Jordan Mason

Mason showed what he was capable of in the running game as a rookie. While he has continued to look strong as a runner, Mason has been able to show off his hands during OTAs and he did it again today.

The second year back hauled in a pair of throws from Sam Darnold in the redzone, the second coming in the left flat resulting in a touchdown.

Kevin Givens

With Javon Hargrave not participating in team drills, Givens continues to work with the first unit. Today the veteran defensive tackle held up well in the run game, stopping Mason on a run up the middle.

Samuel Womack

Womack was beaten by Ray Ray McCloud for a completion on a deep out, but rebounded nicely on the next play when he forced an incompletion on a deep throw down the right sideline from Lance to Ronnie Bell.

Earlier in practice, Womack showed good speed when he was able to run down Cameron Latu on a deep crossing route.

A.J. Parker and D’Shawn Jamison

Parker and Jamison were each able to record a pass break up. Parker’s coming on a throw from Lance in the right flat, while Jamison’s was on a throw from Brandon Allen to Willie Snead.

Elijah Mitchell

The running back missed practice for the second week in a row. According to Kyle Shanahan the veteran is “working through something.”

Not a good sign for a player who has missed significant time with injury during his first two NFL seasons.

Nick Bosa

The All-Pro defensive end was at the 49ers facility, but he did not participate in practice. Speaking to the local media, Bosa said he is confident a new contract will be in place prior to training camp.

Deebo Samuel

Samuel went through the individual portion of practice before working on the side during team drills.

The veteran wide receiver spoke with the media following practice and classified his performance last season as “awful, in every aspect.” Samuel said the distractions of last offseason got him off his normal routine, leading to the poor performance.

Javon Hargrave

The 49ers prize addition in free agency made his on-field debut in front of the media. Like Samuel, Hargrave went through only the individual portion of practice.

Nick Bosa said after practice that Hargrave is a huge addition to a defense which saw a revolving door on the defensive interior due to injuries.

This article has 21 Comments

    1. All right, Jack. But any word on Khalon leborn the undrafted rb? I agree with Old Coach wondering about Kinlaw and Kalia. Armstead?

      1. Armstead is out there working with the first group. LeBorn hasn’t stood out to me.

  1. Great Job Jack!
    Thanks for all the detail!
    How was Luter holding up?
    Do you get the film about mini camp to analyze the players?

    1. Thank you, Dee!

      No film of mini-camp, unfortunately. Luter is doing ok, but struggling to keep receivers in front of him.

    1. Burks, McCrary-Ball, Robinson were the first group. I’ll keep a better eye for the second unit tomorrow.

  2. Appreciate your fine work, Jack. It’s especially refreshing to read your players reports without inserting personal knocks at those players who may have had a rough day.

  3. Trey looking good. I still think he should start as Brock may be still trying to get his strength back. Surprising that Brown is not doing well in the media days anyway.

  4. Trey looking good. I still think he should start as Brock may be still trying to get his strength back. Surprising that Brown is not doing well in the media days anyway. Price still invisible at RB? How is the center position looking?

  5. Nice. I am glad that they are involving Jordan Mason in the passing game, so he is not one dimensional.
    Kittle praised Latu for his size and speed. He also liked Willis.
    While I do not think that Sam can win the starting job, I am glad he is getting first team reps. KS is keeping his word about them splitting first team reps, and they need film of Sam throwing to the starters. I am also glad that KS downplayed the significance of a QB competition. This is practice. The competition will begin in training camp.
    Thank you, Jack, for your solid reporting. I gain many insights from your and Lombardi’s observations.

        1. Oh my, your ego has no boundaries.
          You really think Dee Winters is after you?

            1. You keep on using inappropriate, out of context, platitudes.
              Are you OK?
              Just another senior moment?

  6. Per, FOX sports
    “Defensive Player of the Week: Reuben Foster, LB, Pittsburgh Maulers
    Foster was active and seemingly all over the field in the Maulers’ 21-13 win over the Philadelphia Stars.
    The linebacker had 11 combined tackles (two for loss), with two passes defended and an interception in Sunday’s tilt.”

    I apologize in advance. OK, this is totally out of left field and doesn’t fit the current 49ers narrative.
    But if Foster has finally grown-up and shows a sincere respect for the game, can he have an another shot at the NFL?

  7. Can’t wait for TC. This is where players separate themselves from their peers.
    Love to see Kalia Davis finally get on the field. Maybe Danny Gray will contribute this year.
    Will the FA signing of Hargrave light a fire under Kinlaw?
    Who will come out of TC as the starting strong LB?

    These mini camps are nice, but it won’t define the young players the way TC will, where iron sharpens iron.

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