The first week of Training Camp is in the books and there was a lot of action. Here is what we’ve seen and learned so far:
1 – Marquise Goodwin could be a legitimate deep threat if he stays healthy
Marquise Goodwin has been the biggest standout, at least offensively, during camp so far. He has caught deep balls for touchdowns each day and is showing up off his blazing speed.
The other part that has helped is playing against Rashard Robinson, the team’s best corner. It doesn’t seem to matter who covers Goodwin, as he is dominating camp.
2 – The Defensive Line should be greatly improved over last year
Solomon Thomas signed his contract last Friday and has been working with the second-team defense. Thomas should be a nice addition to an already talented defensive line and is getting a lot of tips from Elvis Dumervil.
Arik Armstead is down about 20 pounds and has been the star of the defensive line thus far. He notched three ‘sacks’ on Day 2 and is the favorite to play the all-important “Leo” position in Robert Saleh’s scheme. (Right defensive end)
DeForest Buckner has looked good as well, but tweaked his ankle on August 2nd. The injury is not serious as of August 3rd.
Earl Mitchell has impressed this week, especially against the run. He’s getting penetration and winning battles up front. He should be a force on base downs this year.
3 – Reuben Foster is going to be the steal of this draft
Reuben Foster is proving all the doubters wrong so far. He said his shoulder was fine. It is. He has three pick-six’s so far. He has been getting reps with the second and third teams mostly, but played in place of NaVorro Bowman, who got a veteran’s day off, on the first team.
He looks special. He flies to the ball and has good instincts.
Foster has room for improvement as he got beat Sunday a few times in pass coverage and he missed his assignment on an interception, but he learned something on Monday.
The coaches have worked with Foster to stay home in pass coverage and on Monday he did that and made a play on the ball for another pick six.
“The one he got today I was probably the most excited about because it was the same one he had yesterday where it was a play action and he killed the fullback and went to tackle the back and the wide receiver was wide open behind him and he was still looking for run,” coach Kyle Shanahan said.
While he may not immediately start, he will see the field a lot and make plays.
4 – Trent Taylor will bring impact in his first year at receiver and returner
The 49ers need sure-handed receivers and someone on punt returns. Trent Taylor looks like he can do both.
Taylor has been catching everything his way and isn’t just limited to the slot. He lined up outside for several plays on Saturday and is also back on punts.
Taylor could pass up Jeremy Kerley as the team’s starting slot receiver, but either way, the 49ers look like they have depth at receiver.
5 – Aaron Lynch is lighter and looks to be ready to rebound during his contract year
Lynch has lost over 25 pounds and no longer looks like an eminent cut. He is impressing as he’s getting to the quarterback and even had an interception on Monday.
The thought of Lynch and Dumervil on the edge is interesting and seeing that this is a contract year, Lynch should rebound from his sub-par 2016 season.
6 – Undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome could be a big find
The injuries at safety piled up but all that did was give the 49ers a chance to see what they have in Lorenzo Jerome.
He’s intercepted a number of passes and looks good in coverage. While Eric Reid is fine and Jimmie Ward should return in preseason, no one is entirely certain when Jaquiski Tartt will be back. Jerome will have a large role in preseason and has a fantastic chance to make the team.
7 – Brian Hoyer and Pierre Garcon are on the same page.
Brian Hoyer isn’t an All-Pro quarterback, but he very well could be the right guy to lead the 49ers in at least year one of Lynch/Shanahan.
Hoyer is accurate, understands the system and throws a surprisingly good deep ball.
Pierre Garcon said of Hoyer, “Before he got here, I didn’t know he could throw the ball that far.”
Hoyer is getting the ball to all of his receivers and has been good in all of the days thus far.
Garcon is lining up all over and is catching everything. Expect good things from this duo in 2017.
8 – The Offensive line is different than projected….for now.
Joe Staley and Trent Brown will be the tackles. It looks like Joshua Garnett will be the left guard, but after that, it’s uncertain how the depth chart will shake out.
Jeremy Zuttah had been expected to take over at center, but it hasn’t happened yet. Daniel Kilgore has been solid thus far, but at this point, there’s a lot of battling left.
Zane Beadles and Brandon Fusco are competing for the right guard position and for now, Fusco has outplayed Beadles and is lining up with the first team.
Tim Hightower (Thur) – Left practice yesterday with a left leg injury that is not believed to be serious.
DeForest Buckner (Wed) – As of August 3rd, the injury is not serious, but he is day to day.
Jaquiski Tartt (Mon) – Tartt sustained a rib injury and is listed as day to day.
George Kittle (Mon) – Kittle has a hamstring issue, but it is not serious.
Eric Reid (Sun) – Reid left with an ankle injury but had a full practice on August 2nd.
Jimmie Gilbert (Sun) – tore his ACL and is on injured reserve.
Jimmie Ward (Thurs) – Ward tweaked his hamstring. It is believed he will be back against Denver on August 19th.
What to watch for:
1) Slot Receiver – Both Jeremy Kerley and Trent Taylor will make the team and see a lot of action, but only one can start.
2) Free Safety – Lorenzo Jerome has a great chance to make the team and rack up a lot playing time with Tartt and Ward out.
3) DeAndre Smelter – The wide receiver who was a part of the Trent Baalke “All-ACL” team has looked good thus far. He has a chance to make the team and could be an X-Factor in the offense.
4) Matt Breida – Undrafted running back who is making noise and outperforming rookie running back Joe Williams so far. He has a great chance to make the roster.
5) Cornerback battle – Will Redmond, K’Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson and Keith Reaser are battling for two corner spots.
Johnson and Williams are the leaders so far.
There’s still a lot of camp left and Preseason is nearly here…stay tuned.