It was the final(ish) practice of training camp on Tuesday, as the 49ers head towards the conclusion of their preseason program.
Final practice report
The 49ers’ preseason schedule has given them a bit of an odd ramp up to the season. Three games in 12 days means there’s a 17-day wait until the start of of the season on the other side and training camp technically ends with the team’s Thursday night game against the Houston Texans.
Tuesday was the final practice of camp, and the last one open to reporters. The team is likely to practice a few times after the Houston matchup, before 53-man roster cuts are due August 31.
After a lackluster showing all around on Monday, the pads were put back on and the tenor improved. Jimmy Garoppolo was present before and during practice, going through his throwing routine on a side field and doing some cardio work.
His replacement, Trey Lance, had a better day than Monday, though he had a few misfires, too.
He was roughly 7-for-16, which doesn’t include a short completion to Brandon Aiyuk on a clear sack from Charles Omenihu.
Lance had a touchdown to George Kittle, but also threw an interception to Dre Greenlaw while trying to target Kittle in a double-covered window in the end zone.
There was a fair bit of pressure coming Lance’s way, with Arik Armstead, finally back from injury, wreaking havoc for the second-straight day.
At one point, he hounded Lance out of the pocket, forcing him to escape and throw an incompletion heading towards the sideline. He also executed an aesthetically pleasing swim move over Jake Brendel on a play Lance got rid of the ball quickly to JaMycal Hasty.
Armstead looks fantastic at this point, and his interior counterpart, Javon Kinlaw, beat Aaron Banks badly on one rep for what would’ve been an impressive backfield run stop.
Lance had three poor passes, including the interception. One should’ve been another touchdown in the back of the end zone to Kittle, but was overthrown, sending Kittle into a post-jump somersault after the incompletion. The other was a ball behind Deebo Samuel on a short route, with pressure coming.
But the 7-of-16 mark isn’t all that reflective, given he was let down by three bad drops. One was from Hasty, another came from Brandon Aiyuk, who had the ball poked free immediately by Greenlaw, and the other was a dime, splitting coverage down the middle to George Kittle. Kittle should’ve come down with it, but it appeared he contacted it with that tough, lower palm area by the wrist and missed the chance.
All in all, it was a decent day from Lance, with the usual ups and downs, but a fair number of impressive plays. He continues to use his legs well and finally connected with Deebo Samuel on a deep, back-shoulder throw. Those two haven’t had too much success on those deep balls thus far, so that could be considered a positive sign.
Also impressive was Ty Davis-Price, who pulled off a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it backfield spin move that gave him the space for what would’ve been a 10-plus-yard run. He continues to impress over the likes of Trey Sermon.
Nate Sudfeld also had a deep dime down the right sideline to Ray-Ray McCloud.
On a related note, this writer will not be entertaining QB2 debates at this time. Sudfeld was brought in as the backup. Nothing has dissuaded anyone who consistently watches this team from that notion. But hey, Brock Purdy’s fun!
The Jason Poe show
The undrafted rookie out of Mercer has impressed everyone in this camp and has gotten more and more opportunities after starting with the third time.
Kyle Shanahan didn’t comment when asked about Poe “getting reps with the ones,” for the past two days, pointing to offensive line coach Chris Foerster having say over the position, indicating he rotates the groups around, though not usually the first team.
But Trent Williams was happy to talk up the rookie. Poe told KNBR after the preseason opener that he considers himself a “baby, baby, Trent Williams,” in terms of his athleticism in a much shorter frame.
Williams even joked about that, asking a reporter who mentioned Poe being 6-foot-1:
“Is he 6-foot-1?”
“6-foot-1, or whatever. Could be 6-foot-3, who knows, could be 5-foot-11, we don’t know,” Williams said. “But that naturally gives him leverage. And he’s explosive. He’s a very quick guy, even if you get him, he always has a chance to recover, which is not common coming from an offensive guard position. Usually those guys don’t have a lot of room to recover when they do have a chance to recover. But you just never really see that type of athleticism coming from the guard position.”
Williams said that leverage comes naturally from his short stature and may have been misinterpreted as a weakness because most guards don’t possess the athleticism he does. Here’s a good example of his ability to recover:
Poe, along with Spencer Burford, worked out with Williams in the offseason down in Texas, and Williams said he’s made some clear strides since OTAs.
“His attributes [are his] low center of gravity and natural leverage,” Williams said. “And he’s strong as an ox and he’s quick as a cat.”
While he acknowledged that he has to learn heaps about the position, he’s been impressed with what he’s seen.
That’s not exactly a surprise. Poe told KNBR that he wasn’t coached, per se, on technique in college.
“I never had to worry about technique,” Poe said. “They just told me, ‘Be an athlete,’ in college… So, like, when we played Alabama, they just said, ‘Go out there and just use athletics and no technique, just go after them.’ They never said anything about [technique], really.”
Williams said Poe just has attributes that can’t be taught, and believes in his potential if he continues his trajectory.
“He has what they call that dog in him, stuff you can’t teach,” Williams said. “And I think if he continues to stay on the track that he’s on, I think he’s gonna be a good player in this league for a long time and a good player for this franchise.”
Other notes: Plans for Trey Lance and other starters
Plans for starters
Shanahan said that Lance and some starters will play on Thursday, with a hard cap being the first half:
“I haven’t decided exactly. I want them to get out there, definitely the ones, but we’re going to talk about it as a staff more tonight after we watch this practice, I plan on playing those guys. But I haven’t exactly decided how much I know they won’t go past the first half. It’d be the first half at the most.”
Shanahan said Sunday that McGlinchey was “not healthy” and wouldn’t practice this week. He said the team’s medical staff still believes he’ll be ready for Week 1, but that’s not a certainty. Asked if he could miss regular season games, he said the following:
“I think there’s a chance because they haven’t told me 100% for sure, but they’re pretty optimistic about it. We took it real slow with him and then he had that setback in the game. It wasn’t the exact same injury, but it was still on the same leg, so we wanted to take it slow with him and we rested him last week. We’re going to rest him this week and we’ll ramp him up next week and see how the pain tolerance is.”
Trent Williams’s aspirations and interest in accolades
Williams is going to be a member of the NFL’s Top 100 players, as voted on by players after being named an All-Pro, Pro Bowler, ranked 99 overall in Madden, and given the highest grade ever to an offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus last season. As a future Hall of Famer, he’s aware of and interested in those achievements, especially because offensive linemen don’t have any other real stats to show their body of work.
“Getting those accolades are important, because it kind of gives you an idea of where you’re at and what your peers think about you, not just in this building, but outside of the building, and the people you compete against. So it is extremely important to me. Every year it’s on my list of goals, especially Pro Bowl. I’ve only made one All-Pro, so I’m kind of lacking in that department, but it’s always gas in the tank.”