Vance McDonald drops just one pass Tuesday morning

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers had a light, leisurely practice in shorts and shells for about an hour and 45 minutes Tuesday morning. Here’s what stood out to me.


1. Colin Kaepernick. Attempted just 13 passes during team drills, but completed 10 including three touchdown passes: one to Anquan Boldin, one Stevie Johnson and one to Vance McDonald. Kaepernick’s first incomplete pass was intended for Bruce Ellington in the back right corner of the end zone during a red zone drill and Dontae Johnson broke up that pass easily. Kaepernick’s second incompletion was a miscommunication with Stevie Johnson – Johnson broke off his route, but Kaepernick threw deep because he expected Johnson to keep running. Kaepernick’s third incomplete pass was intended for Vance McDonald. He dropped it.

2. Vance McDonald. The tight ends spent ten minutes at the beginning of practice catching footballs spun out of a JUGS machine. McDonald stood ten yards away from it and didn’t drop a single ball. And during team drills he dropped only one – an improvement for him. McDonald also made the catch of the day, a one-handed over-the-shoulder touchdown catch on a pass thrown by Kaepernick.

3. Stevie Johnson. Anquan Boldin and Quinton Patton took just a handful of reps in team drills, so Johnson got four targets instead of the two or three he typically gets. He caught three passes at the beginning of practice: he beat Darryl Morris for a 10-yard touchdown catch, and he also beat Kenneth Acker and Dontae Johnson for short gains. Johnson didn’t drop any passes, but he ran the wrong route once and Kaepernick ended up throwing a deep pass to no one.

4. David Reed. Caught three passes when he was playing against the first-team defense as a member of the scout-team offense. Reed beat Chris Culliver down the left sideline for a 25-yard catch, and later beat Chris Cook for a 15-yard gain. Reed spun Cook around on that play. Reed is brothers with Redskins’ tight end Jordan Reed.

5. George Whitfield. The four quarterbacks practiced faking handoffs, rolling back to their right and throwing on the run into a hoop propped up in the back-right corner of the end zone. Geep Chryst ran the drill. Each quarterback tried this pass dozens of times and each quarterback completed just one into the hoop. George Whitfield completed two into the hoop. Greg Roman tried twice and missed 10 yards short both times.


1. Jimmie Ward. The starting nickel back for the first-team defense. Gave up a 20-yard catch on third-and-seven to the scout-team slot receiver, Devon Wylie.

This article has 87 Comments

  1. Did Culliver play today? If so, how did he look? The last report said guys were sceaming ball when he was covering someone and he never looked back for the ball. Is this staff giving Culliver the same attention to this part of his game as they are Cook? It just sounds like Cook is working to improve it and Culliver is not making much progress.

    1. He went through the motions during team drills, but so did most of the starters.

  2. Grant:

    What made you conclude that Johnson ran the wrong route when he and Kaepernick miscommunicated?

          1. Can’t blame him. You basically questioned everything he writes to another commenter.

            1. You mean when I noted that he sometimes lacks objectivity? It’s not like I had no basis for that assertion.

            2. “Can’t blame him. You basically questioned everything he writes to another commenter.”

              Waaaaaaaaaah! Bring him his binkie and his woobie and put him down for his nap.

  3. So most of the starters only got a handful of reps today, as did Quinton Patton, while Stevie Johnson had more reps than usual. If you were looking for an indication of the current depth chart…

    1. Yep definitely looks like they are giving Patton the chance to run with it. Looking forward to seeing him on Thursday.

      1. Me too.

        It could be they see Stevie Johnson as first string slot WR though. Patton will likely be in the line-up for Crabtree.

        Grant, who has been getting the majority of “first team” reps at slot WR in camp?

          1. Thanks Grant. When Crabtree was in the line-up, was Johnson or Patton in the line-up in 3 WR sets (or Lloyd)?

  4. Grant – From how far away were the QBs, Whitfield and Roman making their throws? If it was less than 20 yards, I would be a bit concerned, but if you are talking about throws from 30-35 yards, that’s another thing. Also, what was the size of the hoop because that could make a big difference? Wish you had video of Roman attempting to make the throws.

    1. The quarterbacks were making their throws from between the 15 and 10 yard line and the hoop was in the back of the end zone, so about a 25 yard throw. The hoop was about a yard in diameter.

      1. Missing these practices certainly won’t help his cause. With Vernon back in the line-up the need for Lloyd as a deep threat diminishes a bit, and with Patton developing nicely he can provide some additional speed outside as needed (while not a burner, he’s got enough speed to keep a DB honest).

    1. Agreed, been saying that for weeks. Glad he is playing well but we didn’t trade a draft pick for him, we didn’t draft him, contract isn’t guaranteed, doesn’t play special teams, never really blocked, on the downside of his career. Doesn’t bode well.

  5. Grant,
    I’ve gotten the impression that this has been a pretty even camp. A lot of good competition going on. Some days the offense is better, some days the defense has it’s turn. Is that how you would categorize it? Which side of the ball has looked better or are they about the same?

    1. Ya about Hunter clearing waivers. I’m confused how that works. Why couldn’t they just put him on the pup list and not even take the chance of another team picking him up.

      1. Now he doesn’t count against the roster at all. Would eventually have to be taken off the PUP list anyways.

      2. This is not my original material but I don’t want to direct traffic to another site:

        With Hunter clearing waivers, the 49ers have two options:

        1) They can place him on their injured reserve list. If they did this, they would pay him his $645,000 in base salary (barring a split contract). Additionally, he would be able to continue rehabbing at the 49ers facility. Furthermore, the 49ers would retain exclusive negotiating rights with him until the free agency negotiation period opens in March. As I understand it, he would factor into the comp pick formula after the season if he signed elsewhere for more than a league minimum deal.

        2) They can pay him an injury settlement, which would make him a free agent. An injury settlement is paid out as X number of game checks. Given that Hunter tore his ACL, that would likely mean all 17 weeks of checks. He would not count in the comp pick formula after this season.

  6. The Generals had Williams work out pushing the sled and other exercises to assess where he is physically. Stands to reason he must be close or why do it…..

  7. Sounds as if Romo is having issues with his deep ball due to his back injury. The 49ers defense should be salivating….

  8. Making any team travel cross-country for a preseason game is fatuous. Shameless attempt by the league to attempt to profit further from their famous fraternity. Veiled I’m certain in the good will by the shield to try and make pre-season games more interesting but the fact that a good majority of starters wont even play makes all said attempts futile in the eyes of the paying fans.

  9. I hope Okoye can make this team. If he wants to play this year, there are plenty of teams that would probably give him a shot (Cowboys for one). I hope he can sneak in as a special teams player. Imaging a fast 300+ pound player barreling down the field and you have to block him. Whiffing on the block may be a good “business decision”!

  10. Hey y’all!!!

    Is it lost on anybody that Delanie Walker had more catches last season than Vernon Davis? Looks like we traded the wrong TE!

    1. Well, let’s see here…

      Walker: 60 receptions, 571 yards, 6 TD, and 30 first downs
      Davis: 52 receptions, 850 yards, 13 TD, and 35 first downs

      I’ll keep Davis, thank you. Walker can have his 8 more catches, I prefer the rest of that stat line any day.

      Oh, and Walker left as a free agent, by the way. No trade.

    2. Stop Cohn’s brain stopped before he posted. Oh wait, that’s normal for him. My bad.

  11. Well, it looks like the NFL intelligencia still can’t keep up with Grant’s player evaluation expertise; Tyler Wilson cut by Titans. Can’t they see what Grant sees? ; >)

      1. Unbeleivable. How is he supposed to prove to the world that Grants faith in him is justird if he keeps getting cut by teams that need a QB.

    1. Don’t worry Grant, Wilson will be another Kurt Warner story. Then you’ll look like a genius.

  12. Yeah, and I’m still waiting for my guy Blackmon to achieve greatness; can’t miss prospect imho. Miliner was ‘can’t miss’ in my book too, sigh, but he tells us this year he’s going to be the best CB in the NFL. Can’t wait!

  13. If somehow Anthony Davis is not ready early, the familiarity of Looney@(RG) and JMartin@(RT) working together through camp may prove to be very astute….

    1. One. That’s why the 49ers will wait as long as possible before making that designation.

  14. Ouch. Is he worth using that designation, given the depth with Williams close and the limited time the position plays within the defensive scheme?

  15. Ouch. Is he worth using that designation, given the depth with Williams close and the limited time the position plays within the defensive scheme?

    1. It’ll depend on how the replacements play and the recovery of Williams. If Dial and TJE play well in his place and Williams looks like he can come back at some point soon, then I think they just put him on IR. Dial intrigues me and I am anxiously awaiting a chance to see him in game action.

      1. Not to jinx anyone, but other preseason injuries, if any (please don’t happen; please don’t happen), will also affect the decision.

  16. Brady just lauded the acquisition of Brandon LaFell as a welcome change from the Patriots stable of Pygmy WRs. Maybe Baalke will act accordingly and seek size in his next WR chase … Kelvin Benjamin, Alshon Jeffery, etc … 6’1″ is mediocre in today’s NFL, just ask Captain Dick up the coast.

    1. I think you have something there. As you probably know, they exchanged Baldwin for L’Damian Washington, who is 6″4.

    1. Yes they are. Can’t wait. Getting some pizza and some wings and watching with my boys, my sons that is.

      1. When my wife heard the start time (4:30PDT) she said “Great. I’ll be home in time to watch the carpenters and truck drivers play.” But really, there aren’t any stiffs in this Camp.

        1. Carpenters and truck drivers?
          Man, your wife’s pretty harsh, dude!

      2. That makes it 1:30p HST.
        But I’m not off work until 3:30p!
        I think I’m starting to feel a little under the weather…*cough cough*…

        1. Emergency Dentist appointment after lunch. Be sure to act miserable in the morning. Aloha.

  17. Cool.
    I’ll be glued, but since I have have two daughters…it’ll probably be a solo mission, as usual.
    I dig preseason ball.
    Mostly because I’m such a Draft nut and I’m always eager to see the rookies play.
    Those that aren’t redshirted, that is…

  18. A comment I found interesting from Louis Riddick on ESPN. In regards to the new emphasis on holding/contact he thought that guys like Revis and Sherman would be effected the least because they know how to do a lot of their physical disruption early near the LOS (and thus within legal contact zone.) Obviously everybody will have to adjust to not grabbing jerseys and to turning the receiver loose after 5.

    1. They’re also good at hiding and/or disguising the contact–partly due to skill and partly due to knowing where the refs are and what they can and can’t see.
      Linemen do the same thing all the time.
      The vets are usually better at it.
      As for the two you mentioned…I agree totally.
      It’s all about getting in front of the WR and not letting him blow past you to where you either have to reach back and grab him to slow him down, or rely on Safety help, or both.
      That’s why Revis is an island.

    2. Good to know, and don’t forget Brandon Browner is paired up with Revis. NE will need an improved secondary since they allowed 338 pts./ SF 272 and Seattle 231.

      1. P.S.: Jack, I think these are good stats. In 2010 Seahawks allowed 25.4 pts/game and in 2014 PA were 14.4/game.

  19. Grant you seem to be really selective in supporting your own player picks in your evaluations. Your only negative play came against Ward but you fail to mention in the not so good section that all the other corner backs got beat as well. Cook and Culliver got beat for big gains, 15yds and 25 yds respectively. MacDonald caught a TD in which someone was beat (could have been LB or safety) Morris gave up a 10yd TD. If Ward is a bad pick you won’t have to work hard to prove it. Seems like some of these other DB’s should have earned “not so good” ratings as well. I like a lot of your analysis and statistics. This looks a bit self serving.

    1. That’s true, those CBs got beat Tuesday morning. But Ward got beat on third-and-seven by Devon Wylie for a 20 yard gain when the first team defense was facing the scout team offense. Ward was going all out and still gave up the big play on third and long. That’s why I chose to highlight that play.

      Ward also gave up a catch Tuesday morning to Kassim Osgood.

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