SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out Wednesday at practice.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Did something I’ve never seen an NFL quarterback do – throw five straight interceptions during 11-on-11 team drills. Here’s a rundown of the picks:
- Overthrew a deep pass to Ross Dwelley, who was running a corner route. Dwelley dove for the pass and inadvertently tipped it with one hand to Jaquiski Tartt.
- Underthrew a deep pass to Matt Breida, was running a wheel route. Free safety Tarvarius Moore read Garoppolo’s eyes and broke early on the pass. Breida never had a chance.
- Telegraphed a throw to Dwelley, who was running an out route. Richard Sherman read Garoppolo, undercut Dwelley’s route and made the interception.
- Stared down Dante Pettis in the corner of the end zone, decided Pettis wasn’t open, looked away from a split second, panicked, looked back at Pettis and forced him a pass even though he never was open. Ahkello Witherspoon caught the ball.
- Stared down Dwelley, who was running a curl route in the end zone. Moore stepped in front of the pass, intercepted it and returned it for a touchdown.
Garoppolo has an impressive physical skillset and he throws a pretty spiral, but he seems to make too many mistakes for an NFL starting quarterback. He needs to clean up his game, because his backup, Nick Mullens, does not make many mistakes. More on Mullens below.
2. LT Joe Staley. Left practice early with a sore pectoral muscle. And just like that, one of the 49ers’ thinnest position groups got even thinner.
3. LT Justin Skule. Started at left tackle because Staley is injured and backup left tackle Shon Coleman is out for the season with a broken leg. During 11-on-11s, Skule made Solomon Thomas look like Nick Bosa. The 49ers probably should trade for a backup offensive tackle pronto.
4. TE George Kittle. Missed his second straight practice with a calf injury.
5. Pre-snap penalties. The offense committed three, and the defense committed one.
1. FS Tarvarius Moore. Started at free safety for the ninth practice in a row and intercepted Garoppolo twice. Moore now has intercepted Garoppolo three times during the past three practices. Moore absolutely deserves to start at free safety Week 1.
2. SS Jaquiski Tartt. Hung on to a pass that Dwelley tipped right to him.
3. CB Richard Sherman. Snagged a pass Garoppolo served him on a silver platter.
4. CB Ahkello Witherspoon. Intercepted a pass intended for Dante Pettis. Witherspoon has dominated Pettis all offseason. Today, Pettis caught just two of six targets from Garoppolo.
5. WR Jordan Matthews. Caught four of five targets from Garoppolo, including a 21-yard pass while Matthews ran a deep over route. Matthews has become the starting slot receiver during Trent Taylor’s absence and has taken advantage of the opportunity.
6. WR Kendrick Bourne. Caught three of four targets from Mullens, including a deep touchdown pass down the middle of the field.
7. WR Richie James Jr. Caught two of three targets from Garoppolo, including a 30-yard pass downfield.
8. WR Jalen Hurd. Received his first target from Garoppolo since camp started. The pass was a bubble screen. Hurd caught it and ran three yards for a touchdown. He seems to be the backup slot receiver behind Matthews for the time being.
9. QB Nick Mullens. Completed 10 of 14 passes, threw a deep touchdown pass to Bourne and even scrambled for a touchdown in the red zone. Most importantly, Mullens made no major mistakes. Threw no picks. Took no sacks. He’s not the most physically gifted quarterback, but he consistently makes fewer mistakes than his teammates, and that’s why he perseveres and why he may become a fulltime starter one day. The quarterback who makes the fewest mistakes eventually rises to the top and keeps the starting job.
— Grant Cohn (@grantcohn) August 14, 2019