SANTA CLARA – Here’s who stood out during Saturday’s training camp practice.
- TE Ross Dwelley. Caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo on the second play of practice. Not surprising to true Dwelley connoisseurs like you and me. Here’s what is surprising, though: The fact that Kyle Shanahan called a deep shot for Dwelley on the second play of practice. I guess Shanahan sees what all of us have seen for weeks – Dwelleys a quality player.
- TE George Kittle. Ran a seam route through the middle of the defense and made a 20-yard touchdown catch over Malcolm Smith’s head. Kittle has made at least a dozen spectacular contested catches this offseason. I still can’t believe the 49ers didn’t throw him more passes in the end zone last season. Missed opportunity.
- CB Jason Verrett. Broke up a pass intended for Dante Pettis during one-on-one drills in the red zone when Pettis ran a fade route to the back pylon.
- WR Dante Pettis. Beat Verrett with a dodge route in the end zone during one on ones. Pettis ran straight upfield, faked a move to the outside and instantly cut back inside. Verrett couldn’t keep up with the second cut. Pettis also made a nice catch over the middle while running a dig route. Last year, he probably would have shied away from trying to catch that pass, which means he’s improving. He still needs to strengthen his hands and fight defensive backs for 50-50 passes.
- WR Deebo Samuel. Ran a fade route to the back pylon and beat rookie Tim Harris Jr. for a 15-yard touchdown catch. Harris Jr. never turned his head to find the ball.
- WR Jalen Hurd. Gained 20 yards on a jet sweep, made a five-yard catch on third-and-three and caught a touchdown pass while running a fade route during one-on-ones. Beat Verrett for the touchdown catch. This practice was by far Hurd’s best of training camp. He seems to be gaining confidence.
- WR Richie James. Made a 30-yard fingertip catch while diving to the ground. James has been one of the best receivers in camp. He almost certainly will make the final roster. Which means both Kendrick Bourne and Jordan Matthews are on the bubble.
- QB C.J. Beathard. Had his second good practice in a row. Completed five of six pass attempts. If he plays this well during the preseason, the 49ers just might be able to trade him.
THE NOT SO GOOD
- QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Completed 7 of 13 passes (54 percent), against a defense missing DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman, Jimmie Ward and Ahkello Witherspoon. Telegraphed two throws and almost got intercepted once when he forced a pass over the middle that hit safety Jaquiski Tartt between the numbers. Tartt dropped the ball. Not Garoppolo’s best day, although he did throw that nice deep pass to Dwelley.
- QB Nick Mullens. Completed only 2 of 5 passes, although one pass was a throwaway when no one was open. Also made the most difficult throw of the morning – a 20-yard completion to Raheem Mostert on third-and-10. Mostert ran a wheel route up the sideline. Mullens threw the ball before Mostert turned his head, floated it over Mostert’s shoulder with touch and hit him perfectly in stride.
- HC Kyle Shanahan. Most coaches would have structured today’s practice differently. The 49ers first preseason game is exactly one week from today. When Jim Harbaugh was the coach, he always had a live-tackling period of practice one week before the first preseason game to prepare players for violence. Harbaugh would line up the offense and defense in the red zone on the three-yard line, close enough to the end zone so that the collisions were low-velocity and relatively low-impact. Then, the players would play real football. Shanahan never has live-contact periods in training camp. Maybe that’s one reason his teams struggle early in the season.
- LB Malcolm Smith. Gave up the 20-yard catch to Mostert on third-and-10 and the 20-yard touchdown catch Kittle in the red zone. In both cases, Smith failed to turn his head and locate the football. He is a liability in coverage who should be a backup. Of course, we’ve known this since 2016 when he was on the Raiders.
- The health of the defense. It seemed dominant the first three days of camp, but now it’s banged up. Buckner, Ford, Witherspoon and Ward all have missed at least two practices in a row. The 49ers say their injuries are minor. We’ll see.
— Grant Cohn (@grantcohn) August 3, 2019