© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
SANTA CLARA – The 49ers took the field for the first time as a team on Saturday, and obviously, the return of Jimmy Garoppolo was the most notable event to take place. After a couple of incomplete passes in the first series of 11-on-11s, Garoppolo connected on his next six passes in the ensuing 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, going 6-for-8 in the two 11-on-11s and the 7-on-7 which split them up (C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens both took six reps, three in each of the two series each, with both making some notably poor throws).
Garoppolo connected with Jordan Matthews once (a bubble guy who could provide massive value and upside if he stays healthy with his 6’3″ frame who also made a nice catch from a Mullens pass), tight end Ross Dwelley twice (one of the clear standouts on the day with three catches in the three drills mentioned, and certainly in the fight for the backup tight end spot with Garrett Celek out “for sure” until Week 6 according to Kyle Shanahan on Friday), and his favorite target Trent Taylor once.
Here’s what one of those seamless Taylor connections looked like outside of those drills:
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) July 27, 2019
Also solid in the aforementioned drills was rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who looked much like the yards-after-catch stud he’s projected to be, with great after-catch speed displayed on two of his catches.
Rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who Robert Saleh said would be in the mix for a “wide open” third linebacker spot for which he said there are at least five players in the mix (mostly at the SAM spot, but Saleh has prioritized flexibility, so that player will see time at the WILL as well, depending on which package the team operates in), was also fantastic. He made a backfield stop on the first snap of the day, something he also did in the first snap of OTAs, according to Kyle Juszczyk, who said Greenlaw “has a nose for the ball.”
Another standout was Nick Bosa, who beat Joe Staley three times today, as he told the Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman, using his now world-famous hips that were mentioned a handful of times after Staley credited his use of them.
Staley said after practice that Nick Bosa beat him three separate times and Bosa’s hips making very difficult to block. Bosa worked with the second team and the starters on third down. He was all smiles after practice and seems healthy. #49ers
— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) July 27, 2019
Despite that performance, there’s a sort of make-him-prove-it-every-day cautious approach that the 49ers are taking with Bosa. They know he’s the No. 2 pick and at this point, it seems like they’re trying to keep a lid on the hype that inevitably came with his draft slot and pedigree.
Saleh said after the day that Bosa has essentially proved nothing yet. He’s been sort of leading the (non-)charge of tempering the expectations for Bosa, and treating him much like a player looking to claim a roster spot. Dee Ford also credited Bosa’s hip skills and ability to maneuver around the edge with fantastic technical moves, but reaffirmed the line Saleh’s put down, saying Bosa needs to “stack the days” and get used to the routine and grind that is the reality of NFL life.
It’s that prove-it-every-day approach that Saleh and the 49ers are waiting to see from Bosa before they buy into the hype… at least publicly.
“As a rookie, I guess he got Joe a couple times today, but Joe is a seasoned vet, and he’s going to find out very quickly how O-Linemen adjust in this league tomorrow when Joe stalemates him,” Saleh said. “I know it’s exciting for him, but he’s still just a bobblehead running around until we get pads on. He’ll get a chance tomorrow to see his game and see where it evolves with Joe making his adjustments. But Bosa, he’s got a chance to be great, but he’s got to take every day and just understand that he’s got to evolve his game, otherwise, he’ll figure it out real quick.”
In other news, Staley spent much of the day chatting with rookie tackle Justin Skule (Vanderbilt), one of the 49ers’ three sixth-round draft selections this season. Skule, who energetically high-fived fans on the far sideline to kick off the day, would obviously be wise to take any and all advice he can from the 13-year, future Hall-of-Fame pro. Mike McGlinchey, who called Staley a “great mentor and guy to learn from” on Saturday, is evidence of the value in letting Staley chew your ear off.
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) July 28, 2019
In other news:
- Dante Pettis, who was a fantastic punt returner at the University of Washington with nine career punt return TDs, caught some punts today, as was expected
- Both Kwon Alexander and Jason Verrett were on the field for the first time in more than a year (Alexander made at least one would-be tackle in the first set of 11-on-11s, then moved off team drills; Verrett was, as expected, limited, as the 49ers look to “protect him from himself” as Kyle Shanahan put it Friday)
- Tyree on Tyree violence: On the final play of the second 11-on-11 session, C.J. Beathard hit Tyree Mayfield on a dig route to the right sideline, where Mayfield was stripped by safety Tyree Robinson. It saw the sidelines light up around Robinson and brought up the question of turnovers to Saleh at the end of the day, who reaffirmed that the defense is talking about taking the ball away daily, adding, in response to the 49ers’ NFL record-low 7 turnovers last season, “we want to break records the other way.”