SANTA CLARA — Here’s who stood out on day four of the 49ers’ training camp. Keep in mind that the 49ers will have the day off tomorrow, then their first padded practice on Monday, and that’s when the competition will be at its best. When players are not wearing pads, the defense always has the advantage, as the offense cannot maintain their blocks or be physical in pass protection.
1. Quarterback Trey Lance.
Completed 8 of 15 pass attempts with two falls and an interception that went straight to Fred Warner – you would have thought Jimmy Garoppolo was playing quarterback on this play. Lance has now thrown an interception in three consecutive drives, which is not good. Today he had Ray-Ray McCloud running wide open on a 15-yard route down and just needed to throw the pass over Warner’s head. Instead, Lance threw the ball down a low line directly at linebacker. It was Lance’s worst throw by far. The rest of his practice was excellent. He completed three perfect long passes to Brandon Aiyuk and one to George Kittle (more on that below). Lance also made good decisions, especially when he pulled the ball down and rushed instead of forcing a through pass to a double-covered Aiyuk. So despite the interception, it was Lance’s best camp practice so far, and he still couldn’t play with Deebo Samuel. That should change when the 49ers return to camp on Monday, assuming the 49ers extend Samuel’s contract by then.
2. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
The Aiyuk-Lance connection was finally established today. It was broken the first three days of camp, when Lance targeted Aiyuk 10 times but only made 3 passes. Today, Aiyuk caught three consecutive passes from Lance – one 30-yard over Charvarius Ward near the sideline, one 20-yard down the middle after Lance came out of the pocket and one 20-yard at the middle after running a post lane. Aiyuk was the best offensive player on the court today.
3. Tight end George Kittle.
Dropped his first target of Lance, but redeemed himself by passing safety Tarvarius Moore on the left sideline and doing a jump, 30-yard spin and a back landing.
4. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey.
Practiced for the first time since his quad surgery and played a lot with the team’s first offense. On Kittle’s 30-yard catch, McGlinchey made a key block on Nick Bosa which gave Lance just enough time to get the ball rolling.
5. The offensive line.
McGlinchey and Trent Williams both trained for the first time this offseason and they made a huge difference. Also, Daniel Brunskill took most of the reps in the center and looked way better than Jake Brendel. Even Aaron Banks is holding on at left guard. The weakest link right now is rookie right guard Spencer Burford. We’ll see if he takes the job.
6. Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.
Practiced for the first time this offseason and looked healthy and explosive. Started at defensive tackle in place of Arik Armstead, who has a sprained MCL.
7. Cornerback Charvarius Ward.
Intercepted a deep pass down the left sideline intended for McCloud which was thrown by Nate Sudfeld (more on him below). A few plays later, Ward tipped a pass from Sudfeld which was intercepted by Tarvarius Moore. Throwing on Ward is a bad idea.
8. Tarvarius Moore Free Security.
Intercepted two passes – Ward’s and another while playing in midfield. Sudfeld threw deep on Danny Gray (more on him below), but he couldn’t outrun Deommodore Lenoir. Moore stepped in and made the interception. He looks healthy after missing last season with a torn Achilles.
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9. Defensive tackle Kevin Givens.
Beat starting right guard Spencer Burford with an inside pass move to sack Lance. Givens is one of the 49ers’ best inside passers.
10. Tight end Jordan Matthews.
Beat rookie safety Leon O’Neal Jr. with a deep crossover route to make a 20-yard catch. Every day, it seems like Matthews does a long take. He and Kittle were the 49ers’ most productive tight ends in camp.
11. Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche.
Repeatedly beat rookie left guard Jason Poe (more on him below). Nkemdiche often beat him instantly. Don’t be surprised if Nkemdiche is part of this squad even though he signed last week.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. Wide receiver Danny Gray.
Wasn’t able to open up deep in camp, except for a game on Day 2 against Ka’Dar Hollman who won’t make the squad. Today Gray caught a pass – it hit him in the chest and bounced into his hands, meaning he caught it twice. He also ran a run and gained no meters.
2. Guard Jason Poe.
Unable to block, which is a problem for an offensive lineman. He also can’t time the instant count because he made a false start today. You can tell he’s a defensive lineman moving to a new position.
3. Cornerback Ambry Thomas.
Turned the wrong way while covering a turn by Brandon Aiyuk and gave up a 20-yard hold. Thomas seems to be giving up at least one 20-yard catch a day.
4. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld.
Thrown three interceptions in a single practice, which is the most a 49ers quarterback has thrown in a day since Jimmy Garoppolo threw five straight picks in 2019. Sorry, just wanted to mention that.
5. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst.
He tore his bicep yesterday in training and will miss the whole season.
6. Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway.
Day to day with a quad injury. The 49ers are currently extremely thin at defensive tackle.
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