Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

What we learned from 49ers minicamp

Marc Adams
Jun 9, 2022 at 5:12 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers have concluded mandatory minicamp, after practicing two days this week. News will likely be a little slow until late July. But for now, here are some things we learned during the 49ers minicamp on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jauan Jennings has impressed

Reports out of minicamp sounded very positive regarding Jennings. Coach Kyle Shanahan spoke about Jennings on Tuesday, saying, "I'm extremely confident in Jauan. 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. Jauan was a guy we had a lot of hope for coming into stuff.

"He had some setbacks with injuries, but once he got healthy and he got his opportunity when Mo [Mohamed Sanu] went down last year he took off. And this offseason, him and B.A., the first day they got here they've had as good of an offseason as they've had since they got in the league. And they're as good as they've been right now, both of them."

Asked if his body type benefits him, Shanahan answered, "It's all how you use it. 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."

Did you catch the last part? Shanahan said Jennings separates more than the other receivers. Pretty impressive for a bigger guy. And if Jennings plays in 2022 like he did the last half of 2021, the 49ers will have a dangerous passing game.

Of course, there was also this videos:

Trey Lance worries may have been overblown

It's doubtful that you need a rundown of all the negative things that have been reported about Trey Lance since the end of the 2021 season. The 49ers' young signal-caller has been criticized for "arm fitness" to his ability to learn the playbook. He's been called inaccurate and that he throws a wobbly, non-spiral ball.

As it turns out, people freaked out over nothing. Sure the jury is still out on Lance, but he received rave reviews from those watching the minicamp, especially coaches and teammates.

One coach, Defensive Coordinator, DeMeco Ryans, spoke about Lance on Wednesday.

"Defending him has been tough," Ryans said. "He's putting the ball on the money every time he throws it. The accuracy is there. The deep ball is there. To show whatever he wants, he can zip it in there and make a lot of plays. So I'm excited for Trey and what he can do. He's setting himself up to have a really good season for us.

"Trey has gotten better and better and better each day," Ryans said. "Again, another guy who's benefited from having these OTA practices. Trey has done an exceptional job and I know we're proud of where he is right now."

Peter Schrager, of NFL Network, said Wednesday on Good Morning Football, "And from everything we've been hearing from these players, he's been awesome this offseason. He's been leading sessions, and he's been the guy."

Left Tackle Trent Williams also spoke about Lance. "I do see the growth," Williams told reporters on Tuesday. "... I think he carries himself extremely well, which is why he's here, why everybody's so high on him. We all know his attributes as a quarterback, but I think his mental, the way he carries himself, the way he holds his head, the way nothing ever rattles him, I think that's his key feature and I think that will take him a long way.

"He's taking huge steps in the offseason," Williams added. "I can't wait to see how he looks when the live bullets get flying."

Lance's fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, also chimed in. "I can only say positive things," said Juszczyk. "I feel like Trey has done a really good job in really taking on the different parts of being QB1.

"I feel like I've seen improvement on the field, as far as his performance," Juszczyk said. "We've seen a lot of big plays out there. And as a leader, I just feel like he's stepped up. He's just a very natural leader, a guy that people gravitate towards. It's all been good so far."

Of course, you'd expect glowing reports from teammates and coaches. But reporters have had very positive things to say about Lance, too.

Nick Bosa isn't worried about a new contract

Asked about a possible new contract, Nick Bosa answered in his usual, laid-back way, "I'm sure I'll be notified."

Bosa was then asked if it's something he would like to get done this offseason. Bosa responded, "I don't know. I've just been focusing on getting better. I'll let my agent worry about that."

Great answer!

Nick Bosa likes what he sees in Drake Jackson (and so does DeMeco Ryans)

Bosa may not have been interested in talking about contracts, but he was willing to talk about rookie defender Drake Jackson.

"Really nice kid, super talented," said Bosa. "He does things out there I definitely couldn't do as a rookie. Just the way he moves. He's definitely got some impressive stuff about him, but it's only been two days that I've seen him. Just a great dude though. Just wants to learn and really appreciative to be here. I'm glad we got him.

"Just his bend and his mobility, that young, I think his gymnastics background or whatever — he just can bend really well. And that's something I had to improve on as my career has gone on as I've trained with my brother and our trainer. But he's just got it naturally. So if he can keep building and keep getting better, that'd be pretty scary."

It sounds like Jackson had a good minicamp. According to reports, he beat right tackle Justin Skule around the edge and created the pressure that led Lance to throw an interception on one play.

Asked about Jackson, Ryans said, "With Drake, first off, just getting Drake, just happy to have him because we didn't think he would be there at that spot. So, getting Drake, that was an awesome, awesome pick for us there, and I think he has really great ability. He just has to keep working. He has the ability to get to the quarterback.

"If he keeps working, keeps getting in there with [defensive line coach Kris] Kocurek, and learning from Bosa, learning from Arik [Armstead], learning from Samson [Ebukam], just diving in and really detailing out his job, Drake has a chance to be a really good player for us. The sky's the limit for him. He just has to keep working, keep improving daily."

Samson Ebukam had a good minicamp

Ebukam doesn't seem ready to let Jackson take his spot at the edge, opposite Bosa, though he did give his thoughts on the rookie: "Damn, he's good. He's gonna be a key factor in this defense."

Apparently, Ebukam had a strong minicamp himself. Not only were there positive reports from the media, but Ryans spoke well of Ebukam's offseason.

"I think with Samson, towards the end of last year, he definitely started to ascend as far as when it comes to pressuring the quarterback. He started to gain a lot more pressure. I think the more comfortable he got, just playing the position, he's picked up exactly where he has left off. Here in camp, he's been doing a really good job of continuing that, getting pressure, doing those things, all the things that we ask him to do. So Samson is definitely a guy who's getting better up front."

If Ebukam can add to what he was doing late last season, the 49ers' pass rush has a chance to be more dynamic than it's been since 2019.

Offensive line coach, Chris Forester, likes Jake Brendel (and Shanahan does, too)

The team seems to be high on Brendel. Shanahan spoke about him on Tuesday.

"Jake made our team last year as our backup center and if you do that, you better believe that all backup guys have the ability to start," Shanahan said. "And then when they get that opportunity, how long can they do it for? But we had a lot of confidence in Jake last year to make the team. And if [Alex] Mack would have ever missed a game or something, we wouldn't have hesitated and we would have gone into that game very confident with him."

Shanahan was asked if it was offensive line coach, Chris Forester, who pushed to get Brendel to San Francisco.

"Chris is the one that brought [Brendel] to our attention," Shanahan said. "Just him having him in Miami. He was a big fan of his there. We got him in, I believe during the COVID year, he had some things that he opted out, went right down to that last minute. We were able to get him back and last year was our first year with him and yeah, Chris talked highly of him and he's been better than advertised."

Forester is a talented offensive line coach. So the fact that he likes Brendel so much should be encouraging to 49ers fans. And if the 49ers do indeed pass on adding a veteran like J.C. Tretter, you can be sure they are confident in what Brendel can do.

Lance also spoke on Brendel's ability to handle the center position, saying, "Yeah, Jake handles it honestly for the most part. That's kind of how our offense works. There's things that we can do from a quarterback standpoint, but for the most part, the center is making the calls every play. Past that, I got to spend a lot of time with Jake. Obviously, I took all my reps pretty much with Jake and Jimmy [Garoppolo] was with Alex last year. Obviously sad, I wanted to play with Alex for sure, but I'm super excited for Jake. Jake's three lockers down from me. We're together, one of the first two guys in every morning, Jake is and I know he's one of the last guys to leave, so he works super hard and his athletic ability is one thing I think that stands out about him."

Though it doesn't mean he will succeed, by all accounts, Brendel is a smart player with some experience and is a very good athlete. Williams said of Brendel, "Almost like talking to a coach."

Deebo Samuel might not be mad anymore

Deebo Samuel made an appearance at minicamp, and while that doesn't necessarily mean he's dropped his trade request, it is a positive sign that he arrived. It's also a positive sign that he seemed to be having a good time with his teammates, and that he was wearing 49ers gear.

There was also a video of Samuel playing catch with Carter Shanahan, Kyle's son. That doesn't look like someone who is still mad.

Very few injuries

Rookie wide receiver Danny Gray tweaked a hamstring that kept him out of minicamp. But other than that, not much was reported in the way of injuries. This, of course, is excellent news and is a welcome change from previous seasons, especially last year when a couple of players were lost for the season during OTAs. It's why Shanahan canceled minicamp last year, and probably why he cut the offseason workouts short this year.

There are plenty of other news pieces and editorials to read at 49ers Webzone. Hop on over and check it out.

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