© Sergio Estrada | 2017 Aug 19
The 49ers started training camp this past weekend, with their first day of pads coming Monday.
Since Kyle Shanahan and co. have taken over in Santa Clara the 49ers have seen little success on the field, going 10-22. With the roster they inherited, however, bumps along the way were expected. It’s also tough for a team to flourish after losing their starting quarterback and running back to ACL injuries, derailing the 2018 season before it could even get going.
With a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo, an improved front seven and a plethora of new offensive weapons for Kyle Shanahan to deploy, there is cautious optimism surrounding the 49ers once again. In order for that optimism to come to fruition, it’s going to take some unproven players to step up.
John Middlekauff, a former NFL scout and writer for The Athletic, joined Papa & Lund Monday morning from the 49ers practice facility to discuss what he saw during the first padded practice and mentioned two players who physically stood out to him.
“To me, the big guy, Solomon (Thomas) does physically look like a new guy.” Middlekauff said. “And you read the story about him, it’s gut wrenching, you realize what he was going through…To me, now in 2019, when it’s 2nd and 8, he can go on the field and bump inside.”
The 49ers drafted Thomas with the 3rd pick in the 2017 draft. Thomas has yet to live up those expectations. He has said the loss of his sister greatly impacted his ability to perform last year, but has since talked about how he is the most confident he has been in his career, as he heads into his third NFL season.
Thomas wasn’t the only player that physically stood out to Middlekauff.
“I think one guy that stands out just physically is Jalen Hurd. Obviously the stories of him fighting; I love that, I absolutely love that. I don’t know if he’s in the right or the wrong, but blocking down field, they need a little edge. And that’s what the D-line coach [Kris Kocurek] brings, that’s what a guy like Deebo [Samuel] brings, and that’s what a guy like Jalen Hurd brings.”
The 49ers drafted Hurd out of Baylor in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft. Hurd, who originally was a running back at Tennessee, transferred to Baylor in 2017 because of his desire to play wide receiver rather than running back. It is unclear how the 49ers will use Hurd, but it is evident Shanahan likes his versatility.
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Middlekauff on the 49ers, start from the beginning.