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49ers Practice Report: After ‘rough’ day, Lance responds to Shanahan’s challenge

© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Two days after a 4-of-12 practice which Kyle Shanahan termed “rough,” Trey Lance responded.

Shanahan said Tuesday morning that he was excited to see how Lance would come back after what was his ugliest training camp performance thus far.

He took specific issue with a brutal interception to Fred Warner thrown into triple coverage, as well as an interception from Nate Sudfeld the same day.

“He just threw it right to him trying to force the ball and he’s got to obviously check it down,” Shanahan said. “It was extremely covered. If you throw a pick and can understand why someone’s doing it, then it’s kind of neat to happen in practice because you can talk about and be like I saw what you saw, great job ripping it, the throw was off, or, ‘Hey, I see what you saw, but this is what deceived you.’

But when you can’t see what they saw then you’re gonna lose the game. You got to check that down. There’s no discussion on that.”

Lance, though, had the “exact right answer” for Shanahan, acknowledging that it was “just a dumb play.”

Lance’s response

And his response on Tuesday was superb. It was perhaps his best practice of the camp.

The demerits are a near interception to Fred Warner trying to throw a ball to the sideline while under pressure from Kerry Hyder Jr. He also would have taken a shot from Warner or an opposing linebacker on one attempt when he escaped pressure.

Lance won’t practice sliding in camp, but he showed a propensity to take unnecessary knocks last year. He’ll have to make a concerted effort to get down or get out of bounds.

You may recall last year that Nick Bosa said of Lance:

“He definitely runs the ball hard. He might need to learn how to slide… He might need to work on his juke move, too.”

While he also had a throw slightly behind Brandon Aiyuk on a slant, and may have missed a touchdown due to a Samuel Womack breakup that might have been avoided with a higher pass to Jauan Jennings, those are the few negatives from Tuesday.

What was positive from Lance was just about everything else.

He had far more rushing opportunities — and designed runs, or options — than in days prior. Aside from what would have been one crunching backfield stop, most were succesful.

The highlight of the day was his 65-yard touchdown run down the left sideline. With Deebo Samuel blocking Deommodore Lenoir for the better part of 30 yards, Lance trailed in that quasi slipstream until he strode past Lenoir and into the end zone.

It was an offense seemed a bit closer to what the 49ers might actually run, or at least provided experimentation with some of the running ability and threat of running that Lance presents.

As a passer, he was pretty decisive, aside from a coverage sack, the near INT, and an unavoidable sack where Nick Bosa beat the breaks off Tyler Kroft. He got the better of Mike McGlinchey twice, too: once in 1-on-1s and once in 11-on-11s.

Lance finished 13-of-18 with a pair of passing touchdowns, in addition to the one on the ground. One was on that patented choice route George Kittle loves, beating Talanoa Hufanga to the pylon with ease. The other touchdown as a dart, a quick throw to Deebo Samuel that looked like it just got in.

He appeared quicker in hitting his checkdowns, or when nothing opened up, he took off and run, buying time effectively.

That ability to half sprint down the line of scrimmage and buy time towards the sideline continues to show up. He had a couple impressive throws in the pocket, under pressure, too.

Perhaps the most impressive display of his time-buying ability was when he rolled out right, saw Ty Davis-Price in an unusable spot, directed him elsewhere, stepped up and away from an oncoming defender, then hit a wide open Brandon Aiyuk after the coverage had broken down.

Everyone else

Let’s start this section with the two late training camp veterans who suddenly appear to have viable shots to make the roster: Willie Snead and Jordan Mills.

Snead had the block of the day, absolutely pancaking Drake Jackson, which sprung Trey Sermon open for a sizable gain. He also caught a back right pylon touchdown from Nate Sudfeld in the red zone portion of 11-on-11s.

It’s hard to see the 49ers keeping a sixth receiver on the roster, at least at the start of the season, but Snead might be making a case.

Mills, meanwhile, has just looked solid. He gave Jackson a stiff arm in 1-on-1s that took him by surprise and looks very comfortable in pass protection. He looks every bit like a man who’s started 87 games.

Depending on Jaylon Moore’s injury situation, and whether he can be a viable run blocker, Mills might have a chance to make this team. He has looked unbothered in pass protection, and is probably the third-most reliable tackle, behind Trent Williams and McGlinchey, in that regard.

As for those two, Williams stonewalled Nick Bosa in their first rep of 1-on-1s. Bosa beat him late on the second rep, which is basically an even performance for both. In Bosa’s one rep against Mike McGlinchey, he beat him pretty good, for a probable sack, or potential strip sack. McGlinchey had to hold him, and got beat by Bosa later in 11-on-11s. There’s not much shame in that.

Jason Poe remains an awesome watch, and Colton McKivitz continues to look like he’s going to be this team’s swing tackle, or at least Trent Williams’ backup on the left.

Thats said, Drake Jackson — who continues to learn, and figure out a plan as a rusher — pulled out an ankle breaker on McKivitz. He gave him a shimmy, then a jump cut to his left and sent McKivitz to the ground like an AND1-style crossover, prompting an “OHHHH” roar from the defensive line group on the would-be sack.

It sounded kinda like this:

Jackson continues to impress, even as an unrefined prospect, and while he got stonewalled a couple times, he also beat Sam Schlueter badly.

There were mixed results for a lot of folks, but the ones to stand out in the wrong way have been Nick Zakelj and Justin Skule. Both are losing consistently in pass protection drills, and badly.

There are obviously players like Schlueter, Alfredo Gutierrez and Keaton Sutherland (both had better days than Zakelj and Skule) who are not expected to make the roster, and lose 1-on-1. But that’s not a major surprise. Zakelj looks like he might have been a mistake to use a draft pick on.

One under-the-radar guy who continues to stand out is Alex Barrett. It’s a situation where, in part due to him wearing the number 58 and being unlikely to make the roster, you could write him off. But the 49ers have been sliding the former edge inside most of the time to impressive results.

He beat Daniel Brunskill badly in 1-on-1s, had a nice rep against Jason Poe and beat McKivitz, too. The interior defensive line situation is muddy, and he’s still unlikely to make the team, but if he remains on the practice squad, don’t be surprised if he gets a chance at some point this season.

As for everyone else, both Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford had bad moments in 1-on-1s, as well as good. Banks struggles to anchor against Javon Kinlaw, and Burford got beat badly by Kevin Givens.

They’re both still learning, and if either one starts struggling more often than not, Brunskill will probably take their guard spot once the season begins.

That’s to say, it’s really hard to imagine Brunskill winning the starting center job. He continually gets bullied in 1-on-1s and Jake Brendel is making far more plays in team drills. Brunskill looks like the sixth man, which is not so much a criticism as a point about his utility. He may be more valuable as your first lineman off the bench than as a starter.


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