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49ers camp observations: Trent Taylor takes over Day 2



SANTA CLARA — Day 2 of training camp is in the books for the San Francisco 49ers and here are the highlights and observations to take away.

-Trent Taylor was the star of Saturday, catching a combined six passes in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. It came mostly against second and third-stringers, but production is production. Kyle Shanahan is lining up the 5-foot-8 Taylor both in the slot and a little bit on the outside. For a fifth-round pick just entering the league, Taylor’s a polished route runner and explosive once the football is in his hands. It’s not hard to see why he was Shanahan’s “draft crush” according to John Lynch.

-So, how quickly can Taylor make an impact in 2017? Shanahan told us the slot receiver in his offense is pretty traditional, and that he ultimately is looking for one guy to lock down the role. Right now, that’s Jeremy Kerley, who re-signed for three years, $10.5 million right before free agency. That isn’t a ton of money, but enough to make it seem like the 49ers are happy with Kerley in that role. Still, if Taylor continues to stack impressive days on top of each other during camp, he may start to infringe on Kerley’s role. Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin are locked in at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Goodwin in particular is off to a blazing start.

-In his first ever 49ers training camp practice, Solomon Thomas mixed in right away with the second team. He batted down a pass at the line and met a ballcarrier in the backfield for a loss. It’s become clear Tank Carradine is just keeping Thomas’ spot warm in the starting lineup. For most reps, the No. 3 overall pick found himself mostly lined over the right guard, focusing more on interior than edge rushing.

-Reuben Foster was actually with the third-string for most of the day, which shows you how the coaching staff feels about Ray-Ray Armstrong. Signed to an extension by former GM Trent Baalke, Armstrong’s flexibility in coverage is a reliable trait. The 49ers like Armstrong so much, they were using him in a starting nickel package with Foster. The 26-year-old can race down the field with running backs and tight ends. His roster spot appears to be rock solid early in camp.

-Elvis Dumveril could seriously end up being one of the most productive players on the team. A day after not getting many reps, the 49ers unveiled him as a nickel pass rushing specialist on Saturday, where he was disrupting the quarterback with regularity. Dumervil brought up a good point about San Francisco’s offensive line: Joe Staley and Trent Brown are opposite players, so it helps the pass rushers train a bunch during practice.

-“I really feel like we have one of the top tackle duos I’ve ever played with,” said Dumervil, who entered the league in 2006 with the Broncos. “Brown and (Staley), I think it presents two different type of styles. Trent has nice, big size, long arms. Those types of things separate you from the pack. Not everybody’s as big as this guy.”

-Former Cleveland Brown K’Waun Williams was the starting nickel back and received ample practice time in a pass-heavy Day 2 practice. His competition, Will Redmond, is still alive and was quite active. The second-year pro recovered a fumble and had a nice pass breakup next to the sideline. Redmond was drafted in the fourth round last year by Baalke out of Mississippi State.

-I spotted Jimmie Ward running sprints with a trainer on a side practice field, just two days after aggravating his hamstring and landing on the PUP list. The fact that he’s already rehabbing an injury that requires rest is a positive sign for the 49ers. There’s no timetable on a return for undrafted receiver B.J. Johnson III, who also pulled a hamstring. Backup offensive lineman JP Flynn went down late in practice but the severity is still unknown.

-With Ward out, undrafted free agent Lorenzo Jerome continues to impress. The deep safety picked off a Matt Barkley pass at the end of practice Saturday. Beat writers have counted four Jerome interceptions since the offseason program started in late April. Jerome is backing up Jaquiski Tartt.

-Jeremy Zuttah had a snap that went over Brian Hoyer’s head. The battle at center remains ongoing between he and Daniel Kilgore.

-Keith Reaser started at cornerback today ahead of Dontae Johnson. Neither have done much to separate themselves early on.

-Vance McDonald took at least one snap at outside receiver, while Kyle Juszczyk saw a handful of plays at tight end.