Observations from day 15 of 49ers training camp; Garoppolo goes deep

This is a 2022 photo of Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers NFL football team. This image reflects the 49ers active roster as of Day, May 24, 2021 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)

Here is what stood out during the 49ers 15th practice of training camp:

Quarterback play:

As has been the case throughout training camp, Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance had very similar practices.
Garoppolo completed 13 of his 19 pass attempts, wrapping up his day on a high note with a deep touchdown throw to Brandon Aiyuk to finish a 70-yard drive. On a play that looked like a carbon copy of Lane’s touchdown throw on Saturday night, Garoppolo rolled out to his left after a play fake and threw back across the field to Aiyuk who made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone.

The touchdown throw was the second long connection between Garoppolo and Aiyuk of the day. On his second throw of practice Garoppolo found the second-year receiver on a deep corner route down the left sideline to beat the coverage of Jason Verrett.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Garoppolo. The veteran followed up the first deep completion to Aiyuk with an interception that hit linebacker Fred Warner in the chest while throwing over the middle with a good deal of pressure in his face. This type of turnover is Garoppolo’s Achilles heel, and was his eighth of this training camp.

Lance finished his day 9-15, with one drop from Richie James on a beautiful throw along the right sideline that hit the wide receiver between the numbers. The best throw from Lance on the day may have been his first. On the play, Lance had a nice play fake, looked to his right and had his choice of George Kittle on a 12-yard out or Travis Benjamin on a deep corner, and the quarterback hit Benjamin in stride for a big gain.

Lance had his turn to move the offense down the field in the final session of practice in the same scenario as Garoppolo.

After a mixture of Lance using his legs to scramble, a pair of nice carries by JaMycal Hasty and a completion in the left flat to tight end MyCole Pruitt, Lance found himself facing first and ten on the defense’s 34-yard line. On the play, Lance rolled to his right after a play fake and threw late to wide receiver Jauan Jennings who was wide open on a deep corner route. The tardy throw hung in the air just long enough for the Talanoa Hufanga to make a play on the ball, resulting in an incompletion.


The 49ers defensive line made life tough on both quarterbacks, especially during the early portion of team drills. Time after time, Garoppolo would find offensive linemen pushed back into his lap.

Rookie Jaylon Moore took all of the reps with the first unit in place of Trent Williams and struggled early on. On one play, defensive end Arden Key would run over Moore and force Garoppolo to throw early resulting in the interception by Fred Warner.

Eventually Moore found his footing and held up well throughout the second team session, holding up well against Samson Ebukam in pass protection. 

Mychal Kendricks:

The veteran linebacker signed with the 49ers Monday and took part in his second practice with the team Tuesday. Kendricks looked to be in good shape, making a nice play on Wayne Gallman to stop the running back in the left flat for no gain on an outside screen from Lance. Kendricks would also get a few snaps with the starting defense and is working as the SAM linebacker for the time being.

Fred Warner:

The 49ers All-Pro linebacker intercepted Garoppolo for the second time in as many days. He looks primed for another terrific season.

Wayne Gallman:

Getting more reps due to the absence of Elijah Mitchell, Gallman made the most of the opportunities. He had a couple of really nice cuts and explosion as he turned up field on outside run plays.

JaMycal Hasty:

The second-year back continues to impress. Hasty had a big gain on a zone run to his left for his first carry of the day, and then gained 15 yards on two carries to help the second offense flip the field during their move the ball period.

Dontae Johnson:

The veteran played with the starting unit in place of Emmanuel Moseley who was out.

MyCole Pruitt:

The free agent acquisition from Tennessee made his first reception since returning Monday after missing the majority of training camp with an ankle injury. Lance hit Pruitt in the left flat while rolling to his left.


Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring), and Trent Williams (knee swelling) were held out of practice. It was unclear if the knee injury for Williams was suffered when he banged it before limping off the field Monday.

Jack Hammer is a lifelong 49ers fan who shares insights on the team, and leads discussion on all football and team topics. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackHammer_NFL and subscribe to his YouTube Channel, YouTube.com/c/JackHammer49.

This article has 28 Comments

  1. So much for the knee jerk reactionaries to Lance stealing reps from Jimmy. Let’s let the process play out naturally and allow Shanny the time needed to mold his preeminent clay. That’s been the plan all along….

      1. He already has special packages he’ll be running throughout the year. The plan will be to keep defenses guessing possession to possession….

        1. Understand what the plan is, and if the plan is to have him play in the games start giving him more reps with the guys he’s going to be out there with.

      2. That’s what the preseason is for. The 49ers are likely to blow out the Lions, Jaguars, Texans, and Bengals so Lance can get half a quarter in those games as well.

        Garoppolo is going to be lights out this year with the best offensive line and playmakers he has ever had.

        Lance will get the next 4 years to do his thing.

      3. I’m a big Justin Fields fan. When all of the Mac Jones rumours were swirling around the Niners, I was pounding the table for Fields. Trey Lance was the QB I was most intrigued about because I could see the talent, but I understood that 1 big year at the FCS level, wasn’t enough for me to go all in on him, over Fields, considering Fields was the clear cut #2 QB prospect in the nation, ever since his and Trevor Lawrence’s senior year in high school.

        I can see the potential in Trey Lance. The kid oozes elite potential. The challenge now is how best to develop him. It seemed clear to me that Matt Nagy took a different approach for Justin’s first preseason game than Kyle Shanahan took for Trey. Nagy called plays that took advantage of Fields strengths. He allowed Fields to use his legs to break down the defense, and Justin did his thing. The post preseason week 1 narrative was predictable – Justin Fields looked like a very confident young QB, and every bit like a blue chip talent, while Trey Lance looked shaky, and only showed “flashes”.

        My question for this blog is: What happens if Fields gets off to a unquestionably better start to his career than Lance? What if Fields leads the Bears deeper into the postseason than Lance over the next couple years? Not only did the Niners pass on Fields, they also gave up a lot more for Lance than the Bears did for Fields. Is Kyle’s legacy innevatably tied to how well Trey develops as compared to Fields?

        1. Is Kyle’s legacy now inevitably tied to how well Trey Lance develops compared to Justin Fields?

          I say it is.

          The moment the 49ers not only traded away 2 additional first round picks (and a third), to move up for a QB, but also the decision to take the lesser known prospect who was graded below Fields by most prominent NFL “experts” including prominent current and former scouts.

          That’s the moment Kyle’s legacy Was forever tied to not only Lances success, but also in comparison to Justin Fields. And if I were Kyle, I would do everything in my power to prevent this young QB from losing his confidence as he develops!


    1. I think Lance will be ready to give the 49ers their best chance to win football games, by the time we get to the bye week at the latest. And I have a suspicion that the OL won’t be quite as stout as we had hoped, so a QB who moves like Lance, and can neutralize an opposing pass rush with his legs, will be very beneficial for the team, especially in the 2nd half of the season. Jimmy G is probably ahead of Trey Lance in some aspects right now, but that’s not the same thing as Jimmy giving the 49ers the best chance to win football games. And this is especially true if the OL doesn’t improve, particularly on the interior. I’m OK with using the bye week as the target date for Lance to take over. It seems reasonable enough to give him 6 or 7 regular season weeks worth of all the the preperation that goes into weekly matchups. At that point, I have no doubt that Trey will know the playbook well enough to give the Niners their best chance to win on a weekly basis. One of the beauties of Kyle’s system is that, despite it’s complexity, it’s actually one of the most QB friendly systems in the league, and the way in which Trey Lance can elevate both the rushing attack, as well as the explosive play action concepts, will make him the tougher QB to defend against, IMO. So if the 49ers defense is as good as advertised, a QB like Trey Lance can dominate time of possession, as well as give the Niners more of what Kyle calls “explosives”, and that combination would give the 49ers the most lethal formula in the entire league, for winning football games.

      1. In fact, a quick calculation of the 49ers analysts that I follow (ex-scouts, ex-players, ex-executives, beat writers, ex-beat writers, journalists, sportscasters, ex-sportscasters, podcaster, etc), and I’d say 8 out of 10 (80%) believe the 49ers should start Trey Lance (not Jimmy G) at some point early in the season.

        Some say week 1, some say the bye week, some just say early on. Among the reasons / arguments:

        – The 49ERS schedule is especially soft to start the season … easy money

        – The 49ERS defense will almost singlehandedly keep them in position to win … go niners

        – It’s Kyle’s thing! He’s already proven to be able to simplify his offense without sacrificing production … been there-done that

        – Trey’s abilities “unlock” Kyle’s entire repertoire … the mad scientist

        – More of those “explosive” plays that Kyle absolutely loves … atta boy

        – Early development for Trey means Kyle can expand his playbook down the stretch as the postseason approaches … bring on the playoffs

        – Kyle and Trey can make history together, as Trey becomes the first rookie QB ever to win a Super Bowl … yah baby

        – The 49ers go into 2022 with the benefits of a much more experienced young QB, with 4 years still left on his rookie pay scale … wowza

        – Trey can serve notice to the entire NFL, and especially the NFC West … booyah

  2. Seems like Johnson will make the roster as the 5th CB due to his versatility.


  3. So Lance threw and incompletion on 1st and 10… what happened after that?

    As to Razor and Jack’s discussion I think there is kind of a catch 22 here.

    Lance opens up the playbook but he’s also going to give you negative plays where there shouldn’t be any, see some of the Sacks he took. Those are drive killers, and anytime a sack is taken the offense only has about a 15 percent chance getting a first down. It’s essentially a delayed turnover. As Steve Young used to say “Managing the game is 90 percent of the job.”

    The problem is his lack of experience is exactly why he needs reps as Jack argues. As to the packages that Razor sites, I think I would actually prefer seeing him get some drives, where they use those packages but sprinkle in regular plays but these are things that could create some unwanted locker room dynamics.

    I have to say, right now I am not a fan of their straddling the fence philosophy, competing for a championship with the old qb while trying to develop his young replacement seem to pull in opposition. Though here I hope and I very well could be wrong. Fingers crossed.

    1. As I’ve posted before I hope this doesn’t turn into a Taysom Hill type situation where the QB moving the team down the field is pulled for a “change of pace”. I used to cheer when Brees was pulled for Hill. More often than not those plays did nothing, if not outright drive killers.

      Extended garbage time as James suggests, yes. The odd play here and there, no.

  4. Maybe more important than any QB decisions is what are they going to do with the O line. I think they should trade a 2023 2nd or 3rd round draft pick for a OG, then move Brunskill to the swing OT. They could strengthen 2 positions with one trade.

    1. Let me go back to a story I posted earlier this year. All of the debate was about whether, on one hand, the 49ers would be better off drafting Justin Fields or Trey Lance – two athletically gifted QB’s with perceived “high ceilings”, but who may need some time to develop as pocket passers. Or on the other hand, perhaps they should draft an unathletic QB like Mac Jones, who might be more refined as a pocket passer, but who offers a lower ceiling, and doesn’t give a team much outside of a clean pocket. For me, Mac Jones was simply too similar to Jimmy Garoppolo, and his soft physique as well as the fact that he was rarely touched playing behind one of the best OL’s in college football, made me question whether he would be any more durable than Jimmy G. I’m guessing he wont be.

      However, it was a 2020 Steve Young interview that really sealed the deal for me. I had seen it with my own eyes, but to hear a HOF QB whom I admired, talk about the beauty of Kyle Shanahan’s system in relation to just how simple the reads really are for his QB’s that really cemented my belief that they should draft either Fields or Lance, and go all in one of them by naming them their starting QB for opening day, 2021.

      1. 10/21/20 Interview – “STEVE YOUNG was in awe of Kyle Shanah’s play-calling VS the Rams”, by Brian Witt:

        Jimmy Garoppolo completed all four of his pass attempts for 69 yards on the 49ers’ opening drive in their 24-16 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, despite not throwing a single pass beyond the line of scrimmage. Coach Kyle Shanahan scripted a drive that had the Rams spinning their heads, and the 49ers executed it to perfection. It set the tone for what amounted to a must-win game for San Francisco, and thoroughly impressed a 49ers’ Hall of Famer.

        “I was in awe of Kyle through the first quarter,” Steve Young said Wednesday on KNBR’s ‘Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks’ show. “Is there anybody better — no one better today — but maybe like all time that can roll into a game, even a big game, and you know that first drive is something that …”

        Young then changed course, recounting his visit to the 49ers’ locker room ahead of their big Week 16 matchup with the Rams last season when Shanahan went through the first 20 scripted plays with the team.

        “He was going through them, and it was very specific,” Young explained, “and all the reads felt really simple. Like, it was ONE-TWO, ONE-TWO, ONE-TWO, ONE-TWO. And I, as a quarterback, you’re like, ‘I like this simplicity. This is good. I really like this.”

        Young noticed one thing was missing from Shanahan’s instruction, however. At no point did the 49ers’ opening game script seem to account for a blitzing defense.

        “At the end,” Young continued, “I went over to him, and I was like, ‘Hey, those are great plays. I love those plays. It’s really simple but kind of difficult, cool, kind of unique ways to attack the defense that can cause some problems with the defense, but for you, pretty straight forward.’ I said, ‘What about blitz? What about all the looks?’

        “He said, ‘Oh, it’s good against everything.’ and I was like, ‘What? It’s good to go?!’ That’s when I changed. I had always sensed that the game had changed, and we were more college-like … That’s where I changed because I was like, ‘Wait a second. We’re going up in a big game — it was a big game against the Rams — and you’re telling me in the first 20 plays, those 11 passes you just went through are ONE-TWO reads, and there’s nothing to worry about in blitz?”“SIGN ME UP!'”

        “They went out and ran those plays and it looked like magic,” Young recalled. “The Rams were all discombobulated, George (Kittle) is running around crazy, players were flying around and Deebo (Samuel) had a big game. … And that’s when I knew Kyle was special. Like, that’s hard to do. Make it hard on the defense, really straight-forward for the offense — that’s genius stuff. Like Bill (Walsh) would do, like [Mike Shanahan] would do. I was like, ‘Wow, yes’ And what I saw (on Sunday) was that same thing. Like, they did it again. And they went right down the field. Guys were open, plays were made, and that’s where, as a quarterback, you can really thrive.”

        The 49ers’ offense on Sunday seemingly didn’t have the highest degree of difficulty, but as Young explained, therein lies the genius.

        1. The point is …. when it comes to READS, Kyle’s offense is, at its core, a very quarterback friendly system. And Kyle has already proven his ability to simplify his offense, without sacrificing any offensive production. He did it for RG3 in 20212, and he did it for Jimmy G, in 2017, and again during the 2019 NFC playoffs.

          Trey Lance is a far more talented QB than either RG3, or Jimmy G, IMO, so I see absolutely no reason why Kyle can’t take advantage of the same beautifully simple, ONE-TWO, ONE-TWO, QB reads, only with the multidimensional Trey Lance (instead of RG3 or Jimmy G) behind center this season. I have no absolutely no doubt that if Trey is aloud to take the reigns as the starting QB in September, Kyle can structure an offense that takes advantage of Trey’s strengths, and he will be much further along in his development by the time we get to December, which opens the door for Trey and the 49ers to finish the job they started in 2019, taking home a Lombardi Trophy while making history with a rookie QB, setting this team up for a dynastic postseason run for the next 5 years, or longer!

  5. I think this first game proved that Lance is a long way from being the starter. Will it happen sometime this year? Maybe, but it won’t happen anytime soon if Jimmy is healthy. Those sacks and accuracy problems show he has a long way to go. I don’t think this should be a surprise. He had limited experience.
    I would guess that Lance will get a series in most games and more in some. I doubt they will use him much like the saints used Tayson Hill last year.

    1. Sorry Jerry, but I don’t think the first preseason game proved anything like that!

      All it seemed to prove to me is that, Trey Lance, like any other QB, needs protection from his OL, and time to throw the football, if he’s going to be successful. The thing about Trey is, if Kyle had let him do his thing, he could have neutralized the Chiefs pass rush pretty quickly, by using his mobility and getting outside the tackle box, and then we would have gotten a better indication of just how ready he is. But Kyle didn’t do that. In fact, he failed his young QB by calling long developing plays despite the fact that his OL was getting its tail whipped, rather than playing to Trey’s strength, and letting him use his legs to get himself outside of the pocket, and away from pressure. I can say that with certainty because, anytime you let a rookie QB get sacked 4 times in one half’s worth of football, without making any adjustments as a play-caller, you’re failing your QB, and not doing your job as a play caller. And that’s especially true when you have a athletic QB who has the ability to neutralize a pass rush even if the OL isn’t holding up on their own. In fact, I doubt Jimmy would have looked any better under those circumstances, and probably would have actually looked worse!

      1. In fact, I’d go as far to say Kyle failed Trey in spectacular fashion, and I sure hope we don’t see a repeat VS the Chargers! I don’t want to see Trey’s confidence to take an unnecessary beating, and I surely don’t want him taking unnecessary physical punishment, by taking multiple sacks without Kyle making any adjustments whatsoever, because bad things can happen to a young QB under those circumstances!

        1. I don’t even know what Kyle is trying to prove last Sat… If he was going to call plays that suited Matt Jones then he should have drafted Jones! The kid that you traded for 3 1st rounder and the future of this franchise was getting pummeled and you didn’t do any adjustment to protect him. For what? To see how tough the kid is? It’s the 1st pre-season game and he could have gotten hurt on some of those hits! Is that how you build confidence on a very young and raw QB???

      2. You are relentless in your ridiculous opinion that it’s all Shanahan’s fault, I give you that. May I remind you that he had an interception, a fumble and 5 sacks. Rosen only had 1. I guess Shanahan was protecting Rosen – no wait, he cut him.
        You don’t need to come up with excuses for Lance. He’s very talented but a rookie who hasn’t played in 2 years.

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