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49ers Minicamp Notebook: Deebo Samuel returns

© Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

(Most of) the boys are back. Tuesday marked the first day of mandatory minicamp for the 49ers. There was no substantial difference between minicamp and OTAs on the field, but that mandatory part meant that some key veterans returned, most notably, Deebo Samuel.

Deebo returns, won’t practice

There was some debate as to whether Samuel would show up, given the odd, tempestuous trade request that came in and was not fulfilled. The 49ers seem intent on keeping him around, but there remain questions as to how a contract extension will get done.

But Samuel did show up, with the consideration that if he had not, he could have been fined up to $95,877 for missing all three days. His NFC West counterpart, D.K. Metcalf, who shares the same agent, Tory Dandy, did not show up to the Seahawks’ first day of mandatory minicamp.

Trent Williams was also on hand, as was Nick Bosa. Both were involved for the first time this spring.

Williams, who is close with Samuel, said Tuesday that the two shared meaningful conversations over the offseason about Samuel’s situation. He said he doesn’t want to be overbearing, but it is available to talk when Samuel wants to.

The fact that Samuel showed up, Williams said, is commendable.

“I think that he’s grabbing the situation by the horns now and showing how mature he is by showing up and I think that goes a long way,” Williams said.

Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday he doesn’t expect Samuel to practice this week.

“I’ll talk to him about it,” Shanahan said. “Us not being around each other much, I don’t think that’s smart for the team or for him. So it’s not something that I’m really counting on him doing and I’ll see where he’s at, but I think he’ll be alright with that too.” 

Here’s some proof that Samuel was on hand.

Shanahan said he’s always felt like his relationship with Samuel has been “alright” despite the trade request and offseason drama because he views relationships as person to person.

“When I think of a relationship with someone, that has to do with him and me, not statements, not Instagram, not people repeating stuff,” Shanahan said. “It has to do with the words that come out of my mouth to a man and him back to me and nothing else. And that’s never been a problem with me and him.” 

He expressed a hope to sort out a new deal with him before the season, but reaffirmed that personal relationships won’t ever get in the way of prioritizing the team’s success.

Jimmy, Dee excused from class

While it appears the 49ers were not going to excuse Deebo Samuel from mandatory minicamp, they gave passes to both Jimmy Garoppolo and Dee Ford.

Both players have a foot out the door, to varying degrees.

Garoppolo is rehabbing in Los Angeles and the team doesn’t feel it made sense for him to interrupt that to join the team. He said he’ll be “throwing sooner than later,” with a general expectation of that coming in July.

Shanahan said that if the 49ers don’t trade him, he expects the will practice with the team in training camp.

“Jimmy is under contract with us and if he was healthy, right now I would see him coming to practice,” Shanahan said. “Unless we traded him.” 

Ford, meanwhile, is looking at an immediate departure from the 49ers.

Shanahan said he didn’t know what form it would take — whether that’s retirement, a release, or another designation — but was explicit in stating that Ford’s time is up with the team. He’ll take a physical this week.

“He’s not doing anything with us,” Shanahan said. “I know that we’ve gotten a good bill of health from his doctor saying how good he is in this spot. We’re going to check him out with our physical. I do not expect him to be on our team, but those are the three options that could happen.” 

Also excused from Tuesday’s practice was Arik Armstead. Armstead announced on Instagram that he welcomed his second child, Ayla Kamille Armstead.

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Trey Lance’s motion, and comfort in the QB1 role

There’s a whole lot of talk about Trey Lance’s throwing motion and how he’s evolved as a passer from last year.

The reality is, it’s June 7. There’s not a whole lot to go off of, and what Lance did change was not massive.

At least, Lance and Shanahan have indicated that talks of him changing his throwing motion are overblown. Shanahan said every quarterback evolves in the offseason, highlighting Tom Brady as an example.

“Those are things real detailed quarterbacks never stop doing,” Shanahan said. “You watch guys like [Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB] Tom Brady and I feel like he tweaks his throwing motion for the last 20 years every year. And that’s why he finds a way to get it stronger at 40 than he had at 30. The good ones are obsessed with that and that’s something that really never stops.” 

Lance laughed at some of the implications that his motion had fundamentally changed.

He suggested it was much more minor than suggestions of a total overhaul.

“I know everyone talks about the throwing motion and your slowmo videos and all that, but it wasn’t as much as you guys think,” Lance said. “There’s little things that you change when you get back here just from a timing standpoint, from an eye standpoint, little things like that, but no major changes for me.

Lance said he worked on his “lower half” and changing his grip a bit, in part due to the fact he couldn’t grip the ball properly for much of the season after fracturing his finger early on.

But he’s looked comfortable in his brief team as the team’s clear starting quarterback and acknowledged that he gained value in talking to former 49ers quarterback Steve Young. He said last year, as far as speaking to the media went, was a bit odd.

“I was in a little bit of a weird spot last year,” Lance said. “You guys wanted to talk to me and I didn’t really have anything to talk about. I wasn’t necessarily playing, so I was in a weird spot I felt like last year, but that’s how it goes. And that was the situation I was in. I tried to embrace my role and make the most out of it.”

As for his work on the field, it’s spoken for itself.

Practice notes: Jauan Jennings keeps showing up

Again, we are in June. There hasn’t been all that much 11-on-11, and there’s been none with either side running their full complement of starters.

That said, Lance has been solid. It’s tough to make much more of it than that, but there have been very few plays that leave you scratching your head or thinking, “this kid doesn’t have it.” That hasn’t been the case. He looks like the starting quarterback of the team.

He’s also been assisted, on multiple occasions, by Jauan Jennings, who caught three touchdowns in 7-on-7s from the red zone.

Jennings continued to show up all over the field, consistently separating from the defense. Charvarius Ward called him a “gamer” and Shanahan was effusive in his praise, saying this is the best he’s seen him and Brandon Aiyuk come into an offseason.

“I’m extremely confident in Jauan,” Shanahan said. “I think if anyone watched our games at the end of last year, not many people covered him. He got open, he had aggressive hands, he got up the field, he blocked well….

“He does have a bigger body, but he plays big. He’s fearless going over the middle, but that doesn’t matter if you can’t separate. And what’s cool about Jauan, he’s got some unique running styles, but just watch him, he separates more than probably all the other guys.” 

There’s not too much to glean from unpadded practices, but Samson Ebukam teed off on the second team and Kemoko Turay also appears like a solid pickup. To no one’s surprise, the defensive line looks deep.


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