Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo encouraged by play of 49ers WRs Dante Pettis, Brandon Aiyuk, and Jauan Jennings

Aug 18, 2020 at 2:37 PM--

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo spoke with reporters via a video conference call on Tuesday. He's had four practices now to get an early feel for his newest receiving targets, rookies Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings.

Aiyuk has looked good throughout San Francisco's four practices. He has certainly garnered the attention of onlooking local reporters, prompting a question for the 49ers quarterback about the rookie.

"He's been good," Garoppolo said of Aiyuk. "There's flashes that you can see, that he has a good feel for feeling the zones, and when it's man-to-man, he knows how to break off routes, just do what he has to do to get open. It's a real natural instinct, just running routes, for him.

"It's really cool to throw routes to a guy like that. He sees the field very similar to a quarterback, and it makes my job very easy."

While Aiyuk was a first-round selection, Jennings was a seventh-round pick. With a season-ending injury to Jalen Hurd, Travis Benjamin opting out, and both Deebo Samuel and Richie James Jr. being temporarily sidelined, the late-round pick's stock is rising. The rookie probably would have made a case for earning a roster spot even without those developments.

"Jauan, he's got a great mentality," Garoppolo said. "He's always ready to roll, locked in, confident, and you love to see that from the receivers, especially a young receiver. He brings it every day.

"You can see once he gets the ball in his hands, he's ready to roll, and he wants to get physical with people, but it is practice. There's that fine line, but it's been fun with him.

"He does some special things out there. One-on-ones, he's been tearing it up. On the field, too, just in team drills. Whenever you get a young guy like that, it's always encouraging."

Then you have Dante Pettis, who was underwhelming in his second NFL season last year after making an impression during his rookie campaign. Garoppolo last targeted Pettis in a game on November 11, 2019. The third-year receiver's last catch came on Halloween.

Garoppolo connected twice with Pettis during team drills on Tuesday, as did backup Nick Mullens. C.J. Beathard also connected once with the receiver.

"He's been coming along," Garoppolo shared. "It's very encouraging, just the physicality that he's playing with, the competitiveness that he's bringing. You love to see that, and it's just one of those things you've got to keep rolling.

"I think our whole group, though, as a receiving [corps], has done a really good job so far."

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