The good and not so good from 49ers training camp: Day 1

San Francisco 49ers’ Nick Bosa adjusts his helmet at the team’s NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, July 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out during Day 1 of 49ers training camp. Keep in mind, the players wore helmets but no pads.

THE GOOD

  1. The first-string defense. Gave up zero points and only one long play to the first-string offense when Ahkello Witherspoon fell down covering Jordan Matthews. The run defense was dominant and the pass rush was effective. The third-string defense even forced a fumble. Didn’t see many of those plays last year.
  2. DE Nick Bosa. Played left defensive end for the second-string defense, and right defensive end for the first-string nickel defense on third down. During 11 on 11s, Bosa beat Staley around the edge on third down and almost stripped the ball from Jimmy Garoppolo’s hands. Bosa didn’t abuse Staley the way Aldon Smith abused him during Day 1 of training camp in 2011, but Bosa was impressive.
  3. DE Arik Armstead. The starting right defensive end for the first-string defense. Armstead blew up every run that came his direction. He set the edge beautifully. And on third downs, he moved to nose tackle where he played toward the end of 2018. Armstead will get lots of playing time this season. Bosa probably will back him up, and they’ll play together on third downs.
  4. DE Solomon Thomas. Played exclusively with the second-team defense, which doesn’t bode well for him next season, but he played well against the backups. He even tackled Matt Breida for a loss during a run play.
  5. DE Jullian Taylor. Manhandled starting right tackle Mike Person with a bulrush during-on-one pass-rush drills. Taylor is the most violent defensive lineman on the 49ers, and he’s improving.
  6. OLB Dre Greenlaw. Stopped Tevin Coleman for a five-yard loss on the first play of 11 on 11s. Also blitzed once and sacked Garoppolo. Greenlaw seems to end up in the right place at the right time. He has “good instincts,” as Robert Saleh said after practice.
  7. WR Deebo Samuel. Reached over his head and made a difficult catch while running a dig route through traffic. The 49ers need Samuel to consistently make catches over the middle, because Dante Pettis can’t. More on Pettis below.
  8. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Completed his final six passes during 11 on 11s after missing his first two. Most of his passes were short completions, except for the long pass to Matthews. It will be interesting to see how Garoppolo performs against a live pass rush and a defense that intercepts passes.
  9. QB Nick Mullens. Took all of the second-string reps at quarterback, and completed three of five passes during 11 on 11s. His best pass was a deep out to Jordan Matthews. Mullens’ arm seems to have gotten stronger.

THE NOT SO GOOD

  1. The offense. Eight of their first 10 plays either were incomplete passes or runs that gained nothing. The outside-zone run plays did not work against the Wide 9 defensive alignment. The entire offensive line struggled to pass protect. and the wide receivers struggled to get open except when Witherspoon fell down. More on him below.
  2. WR Dante Pettis. Ran a dig route over the middle and stopped running his route because the pass was slightly above his head. Pettis made no attempt to catch the pass. Didn’t even raise a hand. Bad.
  3. C Ben Garland. Started at center early in practice because Weston Richburg is out. Garland struggled so much, the coaches replaced him halfway through practice.
  4. G/C Mike Person. Started at right guard, then moved to center to replace Garland. Persons struggled at both positions. He could not hold his ground against second-year defensive end Jullian Taylor.
  5. G Joshua Garnett. Played right guard with the first-string offense after Person moved to center. Garnett still looks out of football shape. During one-on-ones, DeForest Buckner easily tossed him to the side.
  6. CB Ahkello Witherspoon. Gave up two catches on two targets and fell once. Hasn’t seemed to improve yet since last season. Will he ever improve? I’m eager to see Jason Verrett play cornerback when he’s healthy, because I’ve seen enough of Witherspoon.
  7. DE Kentavius Street. Lost his balance and fell when rushing against undrafted rookie Ross Reynolds during one-on-one pass-rush drills. Street doesn’t seem to have much body control.
  8. QB C.J. Beathard. Played exclusively with the third-string offense, and completed just one of four pass attempts during 11 on 11s. His sole completion was a 10-yard play-action rollout pass to Kendrick Bourne.

This article has 80 Comments

  1. Defense ahead of offense–very early in camp. A common affliction going on several decades across the NFL, and NCAA, and….

    Of course, no pads today….

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  2. Maybe some good news is that with the apparent talent of the D-line the offense will be able to practice every day against a more formidable opponent and step up their game. Seriously, you can’t underestimate how much it helps to practice against really talented teammates. Especially our previously pathetic secondary (which has to be better or …. I don’t want to go there) . If we can really upgrade our defense, our offense will have to get better just by practicing against more talented players on a daily basis.

    1. I think you mean you can’t overestimate how much it helps to practice against really talented teammates. Seriously though I agree. Harbaugh had iron sharpening iron, which can work, but ceramic does a much better job, and these guys are ceramic.

      It does seem inevitable that the offensive line, which got little help in the draft and is missing its starting center, will struggle against this defense. I guess the 2020 draft is when we finally address the C/G position. I would say the biggest potential weakness on this team is at center. Richburg needs to heal up and come back strong if the Niners are going to contend this season.

  3. Very nice report Grant Cohn, but I think you’re being a little too hard on Dante Pettis. By all accounts he had a solid practice today, and was probably one of the standouts on offense.

    Here’s another quick summary:

    Note: It’s always worth qualifying the first day of training camp by pointing out that the 49ers were practicing without pads today – advantage defense. It’s also worth noting that it’s day 1, so keep this in mind before drawing any conclusion based on today’s practice alone.

    Speaking of defense, the 49ers kicked off the first day of training camp with an impressive showing from their front 7, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the immense talent all along this group. Rookie 2nd round pick, DE Nick Bosa, wasted no time showing why he was the consensus top defensive prospect in this years draft class, and the odds-on betting favorite for DROY. Bosa is not only an incredibly polished pass rusher for his age, he’s incredibly physically gifted as well. He’ll be using his signature side-scissor move as a base in which he can counter using a variety of different moves and techniques, combined with his ability to set an edge, means he’s a 3-down edge defender who will be hard to take off the field. I’m not sure when the last time a rookie took All-Pro OT Joe Staley to school this early in the process, but we may as well get used to it because this guy is an absolute monster. Another rookie who wasted no time standing out on defense today was stack Linebacker Dre Greenlaw. There were some questions about his physicality coming out of Arkansas, but he’s a prototypical linebacker for Saleh and Kocurek’s new look defense, and between OTA’s and now the first day of camp, it seems apparent that lack of aggression isn’t going to be a problem for the Niners’ new, speedy young linebacker. In fact, it appears Greenlaw is already ahead of Malcom Smith on the depth chart.

    One the other side of the ball, QB Jimmy Garoppolo settled into a rhythm and had an impressive first day of camp, especially considering that he’s certainly working through a little subconscious hesitation considering the knee. He completed 6 passes in a row at one point, while Jordan Mathhews continues the momentum he built up during the spring, as he, 2nd year WR Dante Pettis, and rookie WR Deebo Samual all stood out during 11 on 11 drills. The running game never gained traction today, but that’s not a big surprise considering the circumstances. As for the battle of the backup QB’s, neither Mullens nor Beathard really separated themselves today, though Mullens’ was ticketed ahead of Beathard today, with the 2nd team offense.

    Most importantly, the first day of camp went off without a hitch. There were no injuries to report, and it was encouraging to see that the 49ers training staff has changed up the stretching and warm-up routine at the start of practice. Fingers crossed that the 49ers are blessed with better health this season.

    Go NINERS!

  4. Grant:

    Why are you making assumptions on who is going to play where already? It was the first practice, for God’s sakes. “Bosa is probably going to back up Armstead? – really? I don’t think the Niners drafted Bosa 2nd overall to back up anybody. I wasn’t a fan of the Niners drafting Bosa, but since he is already here, I am going to root for him and all the rest of the players. If Bosa continues to show what he showed today, he starts period.

    I would start making assumptions after let’s say maybe the 10th practice, in pads. Good stuff, though, Grant. Keep up the great work!

    1. cotoman1964 ,

      It really doesn’t matter much. Armstead and Bosa likely will play about the same number of snaps. Nickle is essentially the new base. Bosa will be on the field on passing downs and on some base downs. Armstead will be in on 1st and running downs but will be likely be rotated with Solly passing downs.

  5. Grant, good recap it was consistent with the other beat writers comments however yours was more in depth. Good job keep it up.

  6. Grant,
    Appreciate your reports.

    The first time I saw Julian Taylor in TC (last year), he looked impressive. He looked gangly because of his height, but also looked very coordinated with a good burst.

    If Taylor came in stronger this year he will make the 53 man roster.
    Street might have his hands full trying to make the squad.

  7. If Thomas and Armstead get their game in gear, that’s great because it maximizes their value in a potential trade. But to say Bosa will be backing up either is quite simply ridiculous. He wasn’t drafted that high to be a situational player, he’s starting day 1.
    I’m intrigued by Greenlaw, a former safety I believe. If he can hold up vs the run, we might have a steal because he’s already fantastic in coverage.
    One thing I agree with Grant on is that Pettis is fearful going over middle, it was obvious last year. Easy for me to say, but its gonna be tough sledn if he’s scared to take a big hit. Perhaps the muscle he’s put on this off season will help. Nvr understood how folks were anointing him wr1 when he had 20 catches last year and couldn’t stay healthy.
    Wr1 will be Hurd by midseason, you heard it here first. Two rookie startn wr taking the league by storm……

    1. “Wr1 will be Hurd by midseason, you heard it here first”

      I’ll buy a pink Hurd jersey and post a photo of me in it if this actually comes to fruition. I’m not worried.

  8. dR209,
    Pettis’ dislike of catching over the middle is a little cause for concern. But his ability to get open with his penchant of making sudden moves on routes will be his forte and signature this season.

    With WR’s like Deebo, Matthew, Hurd and Kittle we can more than offset Pettis’ weak middle game.

    1. Deebo and Kittle are the only two that you listed that I’m confident can be trusted being sent into traffic.

  9. Grant you have such a discerning eye,have you ever asked the 9ers about a scouting position?With your ability to assess talent the 9ers would field teams that Started 22 1st Team All Pros every season.

    Yea;No!

  10. Garnett reporting out of shape is very unprofessional. If we aren’t stout in the middle, Jimmy will need to escape through the fissures. Not what you want coming off an ACL….

  11. As I’ve mentioned before it’s not even a little surprising that the defense earned the first 6 mentions on The Good list. Defense dominates the first few weeks of TC every year. Every. Year.

    1. Yep, hopefully the defense can, along with the special teams, carry more water the first 2 games until the offense comes together at the home opener against the Steelers….

  12. Robert Nkemdiche out in AZ.

    Had this guy labeled as a bust waiting to happen leading up to the 2016 draft. Didn’t disappoint.

  13. Offense:
    Player that’s poised to be the biggest surprise: Trent Taylor

    Player that’s poised to be the biggest disappointment: Dante Pettis

    Defense:
    Biggest surprise: Arik Armstead (that wasn’t easy for me to say)

    Biggest disappointment: Ahkello Witherspoon. I was going to say Jason Verrett but you have to be on the field for at least 8 or more games to qualify and Verrett wont see more than 6.

    1. I thought that Pettis showed some flash in his rookie season.
      If he can add muscle and more heart he can have a breakout season.
      I also believe that Shanahan has him pegged as the top WR for now.
      In that scenario it’s his job to lose.
      TBD

    1. I think he’s had a lot on his plate of late, but I’m confident he’ll show up during training camp at some point.

    2. Anybody know why Mid isn’t posting anymore?

      A lot of the valued old-timers aren’t posting any longer. I’ll give you one guess why.

  14. If you’ve heard this one then my apologies but it was new to me and I found it hilarious;

    Why wont the Republicans impeach Trump?

    Because they insist on carrying a baby full term!

    LOL!!

          1. You calling people cowards is brilliant I suppose. Good thing your mommy followed the republican way and kept you full term – wouldn’t you say?

            1. You calling people cowards is brilliant

              Would you prefer “traitors that value party over country”?

              Good thing your mommy followed the republican way and kept you full term – wouldn’t you say?

              And if she hadn’t how would he even know?

              1. Hey Rib how ya doing was wondering how long it would take you to join. Its really nice here on the coast in Oregon how is it in the concrete jungle of New York City? I would love to talk politics in depth with you and maybe someday we can. I think it would be fun but not here.

                Oh Cassie – snowflake – one who can not handle losing and needs counseling because of it, says they will run to another country then don’t, throwing tantrum after an election and on and on. You might call me an @@shole that might be correct but snowflake that’s exclusive to some people in the liberal party. By the way I didn’t originate this particular discussion. If you don’t like it I suggest you go to Coffee and tell him or to Rollo and tell him.

                A joke was said which I found funny then someone has to jump in and call republicans cowards…so Cassie I would say two things here don’t read my stuff and then go to the source if you don’t like what’s being said. This blog almost from its inception has discussed every thing under the sun and it will continue to do so if you don’t like it find another place to go.

              2. UC, if calling (someone in a political class) a coward is “brilliant”, then what would you say about calling (someone also in a political class, yet also a fellow poster) stupid?

                Rib…I would love to talk politics in depth with you and maybe someday we can. I think it would be fun but not here.

                ….

                This blog almost from its inception has discussed every thing under the sun and it will continue to do so if you don’t like it find another place to go.

                So which is it?

              3. Nice recovery! Watch out for those black UN helicopters, operating in and around your many National Forests.

                Wonder when Grant will focus on the DB situation…perhaps today?

              4. Rib there ya go, the kind of discussion I envision certainly would be in depth and this format really doesn’t provide the time nor would most people here would be interested. A little back and forth okay but a real discussion which could take hours come on, here ?

                So yes a discussion in depth on this format, not going to happen, but would love to yack at ya someday.

                Yes politics, movies, character, food, restaurant, music and much more all have all been discussed here. So its actually both.

                You are correct I should not of said ‘stupid’, my apologies to Rollo.

              5. Its really nice here on the coast in Oregon how is it in the concrete jungle of New York City?

                How is it here? As always, ready to take the hit for the USofA, so the rest of you can jingoisticly spout “never forget”… until you do, then get back to insulting us again.

                Glad it’s “nice” out on the northern coast.

              6. Rib
                “How is it here? As always, ready to take the hit for the USofA, so the rest of you can jingoisticly spout “never forget”… until you do, then get back to insulting us again.”

                I have already been to hell and back, its called Vietnam. The democrats started the war, they called, I went. I paid the price buddy have you?

              7. Both parties have their fingers in the ‘let’s start/grow a war’ pie…. Really hope we don’t have to list them.

                Football anyone?

              8. UC, your post deserves a response. Eisenhower started the ‘Advisors’. Kennedy did not want another Bay of Pigs, so he was going to limit it. They assassinated him and Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin contrived incident to expand the war. The Republicans were gung ho. It took the Democrats to end the war.
                .
                Bush 1 started inserting American forces into the Middle East. Bush 2 invaded Iraq, and created this quagmire. Now, a stable genius is threatening nuclear genocide.
                .
                Do not solely blame the Democrats. The Republicans have their fingerprints all over these fiascos, spanning over half a century.
                .
                Now, back to football.

              9. UC, seeing, close and in person, humans having to dive from 100 stories up because the alternative is incineration is damned hellish as well. But thank you for your service. No doubt that gives you the right the insult a great American city. Actually, that right belongs to to everyone, not just ex-military, just ask President Bone Spurs.

            2. UC…. Go back to football. Please. Not that it matters, but I agree with the majority of your football material. Your reactionary, snowflake behavior is tired.

            3. Okay, now I understand that there are some cognitive challenges at play here. There is a failed crime family which snuggles dictators in the white house and they are propped up by a corrupt political party who shields them. That is cowardly. I guess it raises the question, why do you go along with it ?

              BTW, I refer to them as a failed crime family because the mafia, as flawed as they are, at least had the competence to run casinos.

    1. Pharisee! Get on your high horse and ride over here this instant, they are talking politics! Smite them down, won’t you?

    2. And BTW, thank you Mr. President for easily making the Baltimore Rats my 2nd favorite pro team. (see Pharisee, I kept it to sports!)

      I’ve been harsh on Trump as a know-nothing idiot, but as the son of a slumlord, with a slumlord son-in-law, one thing he does know is rats. Trump’s properties are higher-class, they are only infested with rats of the human kind.

    3. Sigh. If he’d just posted one word, (Trump), it probably would have started an argument. Opinions are like bellybuttons, everybody’s got one and nobody cares if your’s is an ’outy’ or an ‘inny’, nor will it change.

  15. I took a year off from the Pick’em game last season.

    Any interest in it this year? Does anyone have Rockets email?

  16. The interior online went unaddressed AGAIN, with our dreams tied to JG it’s almost criminal they didn’t bring someone in. 30 mil cap space for the cause…..

  17. Grant, I just watched the video, you went through 5 passes for Beathard yet claimed he was 1-5. That would have required 6 passes.

  18. I found your periscope take on Jimmy G interesting. I sort of agree but for a little bit different reason. I posted a lot about that early last season. I felt one reason was that in 2017 he was playing for a contract and he let it all hang out. He would hold the ball longer and wait for a receiver to get open and still release at the last second. Right after the released the ball he would protect himself from hits by turning his body away from the on the coming rush. He was still always at least able to turn enough to avoid a hit from the front. Last season he did not do that. He would not wait but would prepare for the hit by tucking the ball early. This sort of negated any advantage that his quick release gave him.

    He didn’t even use his quick release to throw the ball away and that is why he took so many sacks. He was protecting himself because he wanted to make sure he was never hit while in the vulnerable act of throwing. In 2018, unlike in 2017 he already had his big contract and his priority became staying healthy. Ironically, it was in the game that he got injured, that he began to use his quick last second release again. You can see this by his quick half-turn after his release.

    You always mention that Petis is afraid to get hit, well that seems to be JG problem as well. Sometimes players will play less cautiously when they are playing for a contract than they do once they have their money. Well we shall see what sort of player JG is this coming season. Will he return to the player he was in 2017 or is he the guy who because he has his money play cautiously as he did in 2018.

    1. I wish to respectfully disagree. In the Minnesota game, Zimmer blitzed like crazy. In the Lions game, the receivers just were not open, and the pocket collapsed, hence the 6 sacks.

  19. I’m probably not the only Italian that resents your innuendo dickhead! Imitate someone else and particularly someone else of another ethnic background. POS.

  20. “WR Dante Pettis. Ran a dig route over the middle and stopped running his route because the pass was slightly above his head. Pettis made no attempt to catch the pass. Didn’t even raise a hand. Bad. ”

    The John Chapman podcast reported that Pettis made a great catch on a long pass from JG. Both things maybe true and probably are but why only report the negative .

    1. Can’t wait for Wishnowsky to come up with a weak punt…against a backdrop of several better-than-average punts. Grant will be all over the weak punt.

  21. If Bosa and Thomas were playing with the 2nd string D on first downs then who was the other lineman starting with Armstead Buckner and Ford?

  22. I’ve not always been complimentary of Grant, especially over click bait, but this is first class reporting. In fact, I’ve noticed a real trend recently to reporting facts and observations. As opposed to opinions. Keep it going dude. There are too many open issues to sugar coat

    1. Cautiously optimistic Grant will put some effort into (objectively) breaking down the DB situation–as matters stands at the close of today’s practice.

    2. He’s improving on reporting more facts and observations, but he still refuses to acknowledge when certain players have a good day. For example, in his Periscope, he totally forgot to mention Jimmy G under the “good part”, but then included him begrudgingly at the end. Watch what happens if Jimmy G has a bad day. The response from Grant will be front, center and in your face.

      Just looking for balanced reporting – no sugar coating – but no taking unwarranted shots at players (ie. Juice).

      1. Right you are. It’s easier to look smart criticizing but to be fair to Grant he probably is hyper resistant to spin

  23. Called out grant last night for his mediocre writing, he just deleted it off here..

  24. Rob Lowder

    @Rob_Lowder
    First fight of camp belongs to rookie receiver Jalen Hurd and cornerback Dontae Johnson. Hurd threw multiple punches before it was broken up. #49ers

  25. Rob Lowder

    @Rob_Lowder
    Replying to @Rob_Lowder
    Make that two fights for Jalen Hurd. The scuffle went to the ground and became a pile of players trying to break it up. Not a good look for the third-round rookie.

    1. And more to the story…

      Rob Lowder
      ‏@Rob_Lowder

      Some positive context for Jalen Hurd: @eric_crocker said that both fights evolved from Hurd’s physical blocking, with Hurd unwilling to let go of either DB. The scuffles will likely go over better with the coaching staff if blocking was the reason.

    2. Is he being overly physical because he lacks skill? Blocking wasn’t considered one of his strengths leading up to the draft. “And it remains a big question mark as to whether he can consistently block both in run support and in creating lanes for receivers on short passes.”

      He also had question marks regarding his character.

      We’ll see. Maybe this is a sign of a competitor or maybe it’s a sign of a guy who acts out when he’s frustrated.

      1. Wonder how many training camp fights occurred back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s…and (next to) no one blinked. Would imagine many were encouraged. Nowadays we have dust-ups covered by dozens of tweeters and instagrammers within seconds of them happening–with instant analysis as a bonus.

        Wonder if Grant will comment on this event, what spin he might apply. Can’t wait. What would we be saying if the WR had been Pettis? Goodwin?

  26. TLet’s just hope it’s first day rust. Why the 49rrs don’t draft defenseive backs in the higher rounds is a mystery. Ronnie Lott 1st Rd, Eric Wright 2nd Rd, Carlton Williamson 3Rd. ??? They brought home some Super Bowls and more than a few pro bowls.

  27. Grant is posting today’s video by way of twitter. Has choice comments concerning Hurd. Like we couldn’t see that coming. Enjoy!

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