Photo by Ryan McGeary/KNBR
SANTA CLARA – Pads on. Practice, pads off.
For the first time this season, the San Francisco 49ers practiced with pads on. Jimmy Garoppolo had a scintillating first play, the run game was silenced by a dominant defensive line and linebacking performance, and Kyle Shanahan gave his verdict on the “silly” pairs of fights involving Jalen Hurd which took place on Sunday:
Quarterbacks: Garoppolo gets on the move, backups turn it over
Garoppolo didn’t have the most franchise-quarterback-esque day on Sunday, but as Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh made abundantly clear, nothing truly matters until the pads come on. That finally happened on Monday, and Garoppolo kick-started the day like a teenager who’s a seasoned Madden veteran playing against an under-qualified opponent.
After a right-side pitch to Tevin Coleman which was shut off by Jaquiski Tartt and ended by Dre Greenlaw (who, as mentioned on Saturday, had the first tackle in OTAs, first tackle on Saturday, and now the first tackle with pads on, and is making his case for the third starting linebacker spot; Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner are all but locks for the other two slots, with a healthy Malcolm Smith among a handful of players in the mix for the third spot). More on that run-stopping below.
On the second play, Garoppolo dropped back on a play-action, waited, waited, and then slung a perfectly-placed ball into the basket of Richie James Jr. for a 75-yard touchdown play. Who was in coverage? Free safety Adrian Colbert, who was infamously beaten over the top on the first play of scrimmage for a touchdown on the first play of a game in Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals. Colbert, just like on that play, took a woeful angle to the ball, trying to undercut the route, and James made the catch and score with relative ease.
In sum, Garoppolo had a solid, but not overly exciting day aside from the first pass play. He went 8-for-14, with some important caveats:
- His first incompletion came on a would-be sack by DeForest Buckner (obviously hitting the quarterbacks is, to put it lightly, a no-no); Buckner dropped Tevin Coleman at the line on the third play from scrimmage
- The next incompletion, a dump pass to Tevin Coleman, was incomplete, but had a flag on the play (penalty flags are thrown, but the calls are not announced, but it was either a blocking or holding penalty on the offense, or holding call on the defense, as no one from the defense jumped off)
- Garoppolo’s fifth completion, a nice pass on the right sideline again to James with Dontae Johnson in coverage, also came with a flag, the cause of which, again, was unclear
- His penultimate completion to Deebo Samuel could be argued as a potential in-game sack, as Dee Ford beat Mike McGlinchey around the edge and looked potentially in position for a strip sack; it appeared like Garoppolo got the throw off before that would have come into play, but the fact that rushers can’t come close to touching the quarterback leaves that in question
Garoppolo at least looked better than he did on Sunday, with the obvious highlight coming on his first pass attempt. He hit Jordan Matthews for a couple of passes, a connection that already looks seamless for guys who have never played together. He also looks in-sync with Marquise Goodwin who showed out on a few occasions on Monday. Most notably, Garoppolo got out of the pocket on one occasion when he was pressured, ran for a would-be first down before indicating a slide.
He’s not the least athletic quarterback, but here’s how Tevin Coleman reacted when asked about that burst:
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) July 29, 2019
With regards to his preseason workload, Shanahan said Garoppolo would not play in the first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, but told Greg Papa and John Lund on KNBR 680 after practice on Monday that Garoppolo will play in Game 2 of the preseason against the Denver Broncos on August 19.
As for Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard, today wasn’t spectacular.
Beathard got the first three reps in the first set after Garoppolo… only to hand the ball off three straight times. Mullens completed his first pass to Trent Taylor, but there was what looked to be holding. Out of their first two sets, Mullens’ negated completion was the only pass play.
The next set saw Beathard complete his only pass of the day to Raheem Mostert in the left flat for a decent, roughly 8-yard gain. His other two plays in the set were handoffs, and his final play of the day (and the 49ers’ final play of practice) was a poorly thrown ball thrown behind Kendrick Bourne.
Bourne tried to get involved and break the play up, which he did, to an extent, but Emmanuel Moseley, who was on coverage, was relentless. He got a hand on the ball initially as Bourne tried to swat it away, but managed to recover and make an athletic dive to secure the interception on the far sideline while staying in bounds.
As for Mullens, he saw more than the two passing plays Beathard got. He completed one of the most exciting plays of the day in his second set to George Kittle over the middle, who shrugged off one defender, and stiff-armed D.J. Reed before wobbling to the sideline where Tarvarius Moore made sure he went out.
Mullens also completed a pass to Bourne, a low throw on a 3rd-and-4 scenario that Bourne did well to snag with good coverage by safety Tyree Robinson. At the start of his final set, Mullens fumbled on a would-be turnover. It was unclear if Mullens or the lineman under center (with starting center Weston Richburg sidelined likely until the start of the season) was at fault, but Mullens appeared displeased with the snap interchange.
His final two throws were solid; the first, a throw over the middle to Goodwin cutting from left to right across the field on a deep crossing route, and the second, a pass over the middle to the always reliable Taylor, who had a great yards pickup after the catch.
To recap (with many caveats considering penalties, here’s what today looked like for the three QBs):
Garoppolo: 8-for-14, with one would-be sack
Mullens: 5-for-5, one fumble turnover
Beathard: 1-for-2, one INT
Kyle Shanahan gives verdict on two Sunday scuffles involving Jalen Hurd
On Sunday, the talk of the town (or, at least the northernmost tip of Santa Clara, California) was the two bust-ups involving Jalen Hurd. Hurd got into one with cornerback Dontae Johnson and a second that quickly became a dog pile, making it difficult to identify who else was involved.
Kyle Shanahan said after that practice that he would essentially withhold judgment until he watched the practice tape, saying that if Hurd was simply blocking hard and players were getting upset with that, he’d have little issue with it. After reviewing the tape, that appeared to be the case, though Shanahan was still unhappy with Hurd for retaliating. He said it was positive in the sense that it provided a necessary early teaching moment.
Here’s why Shanahan said he enjoyed the incidents, and why he didn’t have a problem with Hurd’s blocking:
“I’m actually glad it happened, because we were allowed to cover a lot of stuff that we hadn’t covered this camp yet that the older guys have heard, but the new guys haven’t. It led to a lot of good teaching points in our meeting today. For the beginning part of it, I was proud of how Jalen handled himself. That’s why we brought him here. We want him to be physical, we want him to irritate the heck out of every player in that secondary and I hope he pisses people off. I hope a lot of guys throw punches at him, and that’s what happened. I looked hard to see if he was doing anything cheap in the play. Didn’t see it on tape, but someone took a shot at him and then that’s where I got upset with Jalen.”
Shanahan said he wants Hurd to get under players’ skin, and utilize his apparently irksome blocking to get penalties from other teams without retaliating:
“He’s going to piss a lot of people off and I hope a lot of people take shots at him and I hope he sits there with his helmet on and smiles at them and waves to them as they get ejected and gets us a free 15-yards. But, he failed in that yesterday. He got the guy irritated enough to lose his composure, the guy hit him and then he fought back, so we lost both of them for the game. We had offsetting penalties, so he didn’t help us. But that was a good thing to point out. We want physical guys, we want to be able to get after it and compete. We want them on the tip of fighting. But, football’s not fighting. Football is football. You get as close as you can to fighting and then you remember it’s football and the play’s over and you go back to the huddle. If you don’t, it’s a selfish act and it’s fake toughness to me. All you’re doing is hurting the team and Jalen’s a tough dude. I think he’ll be real good at this going forward.”
Here’s the full clip of Shanahan talking about the scuffles:
Shanahan on Hurd scuffles: “For the beginning part of it, I was proud of how Jalen handled himself… I hope a lot of people take shots at him and I hope he sits there with his helmet on and smiles… as they get ejected and gets us a free 15yds. But he failed in that yesterday." pic.twitter.com/Co8tLeJlDG
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) July 29, 2019
Lots of running backs, not so many yards
Today was not fun for the 49ers’ running back group. Time and time again, they were met at the line with a tornado of defenders who were hellbent on stopping them as quickly as possible. Below is a recap of every single run play from today’s two periods of 11-on-11s, in order, noted as they happened:
- Garoppolo pitches right to Coleman, Jaquiski Tartt set the edge, Greenlaw on the tackle for no, or a very short gain
- Buckner drops Coleman at the line on a run through what looked like the left B gap
- Coleman run up the middle, short gain, Fred Warner on the tackle
- Jet sweep to Deebo Samuel to the right, stopped near the line by K’Waun Williams
- Joe Williams on a run up the middle for a short gain, D.J. Reed on the stop
- *DeForest Buckner was clearly offsides; Raheem Mostert gets a decent gain to the left, Ahkello Witherspoon on the tackle
- Breida absolutely stuffed at the line by Julian Taylor for no gain
- The play Joey Bosa ended up on his rear; Bosa claimed credit for the tackle with Malcolm Smith also meeting Coleman at the line
- Mostert with a nice gain on the right side, very good tackle by Marcell Harris
- *Jalen Hurd with a false start; Dontae Johnson and LaRoy Reynolds tackle Breida at the line
- Breida gets a short gain, tackled by Elijah Lee
- Smith stuffs Breida at the line on a draw play
- D.J. Jones makes the tackle on Mostert
- Kevin Walter runs to the left, D.J. Reed on the stop
The best back of the day, who also had a pair of decent receptions, was Raheem Mostert. Mostert’s likely to make the roster based on his special teams ability, and it’s hard to say whether his ability alone was the reason for the two nice gains he had as opposed to good blocking, or a combination of the two, but he was the only back who was able to get into space today.
The two available backs who are, at least right now, at the top of the pecking order, in Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman, both spoke about how difficult it was to get by the 49ers’ absurd defensive front (with support from an already solid linebacking corps of Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Malcolm Smith, with Kwon Alexander yet to get consistent snaps in 11-on-11s).
“We’re going to have a great defense,” Breida said. “Going against them right now, it’s hard to even run the ball. That just gets us excited because we know how good the defense can be this year. Not only that, but it’s going to make our offensive line and just us better as running backs, learning how to go against good teams like that. So I’m excited, I can’t wait to see our defense this year.”
Matt Breida on a #49ers defense which shut down the run consistently today: “We're going to have a great defense. Going against them right now, it's hard to even run the ball." pic.twitter.com/UlXHJxCBKh
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) July 29, 2019
Coleman’s response when asked about the defensive line, echoed the same force-of-nature style that Breida talked about.
“Pshh, pshhh,” Coleman said, shaking his head. ‘They’re cold, man.”
Bosa’s not getting ahead of himself (but he wants you to know he didn’t get pancaked)
Nick Bosa’s had a hot start to training camp, but as discussed yesterday, the 49ers are trying to temper expectations for him and make him prove it. He needs to “stack the days,” as Dee Ford put it.
He got the better of Joe Staley three times in that first practice, but recognized that it was not too much to brag about, saying that he’s looking forward to going up against Staley, who didn’t practice today as part of the 30-plus-year-old gameplan Kyle Shanahan talked about on Monday (essentially resting those older guys on every third day when there’s a string of four-straight days of practice), in pads.
“Definitely looking forward to it. He’ll tell you it was his first day back, so he was just getting his feet under him, getting his hands right, getting his feet right. I definitely got him a couple times, but he’s definitely going to come back strong on me, I’m sure… It was one practice. You can’t compliment a rookie too much. I had a good day, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work to get to where I need to be.”
While Bosa was well aware that he’ll need to prove himself, he did want to make one thing clear from today; he did not get pancaked by Shon Coleman. On a run play stopped at the line, which was Bosa’s final 11-on-11 rep and which he said he got the tackle on, Bosa ended up on the turf.
“I actually tagged up the running back and then Shon [Coleman] wanted to keep pushing me back, so I just kind of let him have his moment. I was just trying to brace my fall,” Bosa said. “I think I got that one, we’ll see on film.”
Nick Bosa on the play when he ended up on his back:
"I actually tagged up the running back and then Shon [Coleman] wanted to keep pushing me back, so I just kind of let him have his moment. I was just trying to brace my fall… I think I got that one, we'll see on film." pic.twitter.com/s44ztuYrhw
— KNBR (@KNBR) July 29, 2019
Jason Verrett finally gets the pads on again
It’s been an almost unbelievably long road back for Jason Verrett.
In 2014, his rookie season, he tore his left labrum and rotator cuff, playing six games.
In 2015, he played 14 games and made the Pro Bowl.
In 2016, he suffered a partially torn ACL, playing just four games.
In 2017, the knee acted up again, and he played a single game, spending the majority of the season on the injured reserve.
In 2018, he tore his Achilles while taking his conditioning test.
Now, after considering retirement, he’s fighting Ahkello Witherspoon for the starting corner job opposite Richard Sherman (who came back from a torn Achilles, but was back playing earlier than Verrett, who’s had much more time to recover) who Verrett said has helped him tremendously already.
Verrett said he’s been pleased with the way the training staff has eased him back into action (he only played a couple snaps in 11-on-11s on Monday), and said that he was happy to have “that good feeling again” of putting pads on.
The turning point for Verrett, he said, came about six-to-seven months into his recovery. When asked what helped him go from considering retirement to ready to continue, Verrett credited his fiancee, McKayla, and his son, Jason Jr., or as he calls him, “Deuce.”
“Having my family behind me the entire time throughout the time of me going through my injury and just be away from football, being with my family, my son and my fiance,” Verrett said. “Just soaking in with them and once I’d seen the fact that everything would be alright physically, it just clicked to never give up.”
Jason Verrett considered retiring – turning point to keep playing came 6-7 mos. after injury. Why’d he continue?
“My family, my son and my fiancee. Just soaking in with them and once I'd seen the fact that everything would be alright physically, it just clicked to never give up." https://t.co/xrBCbZ972r pic.twitter.com/SuIrp78DML
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) July 29, 2019
- Moment of silence for Gilroy: 49ers general manager John Lynch opened today’s practice with a moment of silence following the deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California:
John Lynch has moment of silence for Gilroy shooting victims before 49ers practice pic.twitter.com/8dbCDLMJke
— KNBR (@KNBR) July 29, 2019
- Kris Kocurek remains energetic: One of the most entertaining parts of training camp is the defensive line group. There are obvious reasons, like the pedigree and pure level of talent. But more entertaining than the players themselves might be the 49ers’ new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, who has been credited as supremely knowledgable and energetic by every defensive line player asked about him. You can hear him in the video in the next bullet point
- Dee Ford versus McGlinchey: Ford talked at length about the offensive line yesterday, saying he thought the sophomore McGlinchey was a veteran. They both got a good look at each other today, in the drill below, and in 11-on-11s. There were certainly other occasions when they lined up against each other, but on the two I noticed, McGlinchey was solid against Ford, leading to a sideline catch from Levine Toilolo, and then beaten by Ford in the aforementioned near-strip sack. In this drill, McGlinchey does well in his first rep, then Ford jumps offsides, and McGlinchey does well again on the third rep, although he may have jumped a tick early:
- Receiving notes: Marquise Goodwin looked really good, making two great catches over the middle. So did Jordan Matthews, as well as the always reliable Trent Taylor, who might run the most consistent, well-run routes on the team. Richie James had a touchdown catch and grabbed a first-down catch from below his waist on a poorly-thrown ball by Mullens, having the clear best day. Toilolo had a fantastic sideline grab that only a 6-foot-8 tight end could grab, and George Kittle made a catch over the middle with at least 20 yards after the catch. Dante Pettis did not have a good day, and missed a difficult, but necessary grab over his shoulder with Fred Warner in coverage.
- O-Line news: As mentioned, Joe Staley didn’t practice with the third-day off plan that Shanahan and the medical staff are tentatively using for 30-plus-year-olds. Guard Joshua Garnett was also out, having dislocated his finger yesterday. He was involved in some conditioning and strength work on the sidelines.
- Defensive standouts: Dre Greenlaw again looked fantastic, as did the rest of today’s linebacking group. D.J. Reed, who’s back at the corner position he’s more comfortable with was also solid, breaking up a pass to Deebo Samuel, and making run-stopping tackle.
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