Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Training Camp Day 8 Breakdown: Defense

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 5, 2022 at 6:30 PM--



The San Francisco 49ers had a padded practice on Friday, following a non-padded, softer practice on Wednesday and a rest day on Thursday.

RELATED: 49ers Training Camp Day 8 Breakdown: Offense
RELATED: 49ers Training Camp Day 8 Breakdown: 11-on-11s
RELATED 49ers Training Camp Day 8 Breakdown: 1-on-1s



Defense


Defensive Line

Several players on the defensive line were either limited or had rest days on Friday, as defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw didn't suit up, while defensive end Nick Bosa played in just one defensive series, while Arik Armstead continues to recover from his MCL sprain.

Being the focal point of the defense on Friday, defensive lineman Kevin Givens, who started at defensive tackle opposite Kerry Hyder Jr., didn't disrupt the offensive flow as much with his pass-rushing, but had a nice tackle for loss on Elijah Mitchell with a swift move, breaking up the play before it even started.

Charles Omenihu and Jordan Willis were the next men up at the defensive edge position following starters Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam in drills, while Omenihu started opposite Bosa during 11-on-11s.

Additionally, rookie edge rusher Drake Jackson took some first-team snaps for the second straight practice, potentially paving the way for the USC product to have an amplified role in 2022 as a situational pass-rusher.

Surprisingly, 245-pound defensive lineman Alex Barrett got the start on the inside during 11-on-11s with Kevin Givens today. Despite his meager frame for the position, Barrett has seen a number of snaps on the interior in different sets for the 49ers. He currently projects on the outside looking in for the 53-man roster.

Linebackers

The linebackers continue to play well, as the starting trio all made plays against the pass and run on Friday.

Linebacker Fred Warner was there on the first play of scrimmage, filling the gap and putting a stop to an Elijah Mitchell rush after three yards. Dre Greenlaw had a nice play at the line of scrimmage as well on a short pass, getting to the skill player immediately. Azeez Al-Shaair, who has been taken off the field in nickel situations, had a nice coverage play on JaMycal Hasty, locking him down on a wheel route and forcing quarterback Trey Lance to overthrow the running back.

Oren Burks, who took first-team snaps with Greenlaw's absence on a vet day earlier in the week, continues to be the first linebacker to fill-in rather than second-year linebacker Curtis Robinson or veteran Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles.

Additionally, with Burks's elevation, Segun Olubi has seen some time with the second-team defense and even recorded an interception on Friday, picking off a Brock Purdy pass by ripping it away from tight end Tanner Hudson, who had originally caught the pass behind him.

Cornerbacks

While the offense moved the ball well on Friday, the coverage on the back-end was still excellent, especially down the field, as there weren't many splash plays converted on the day.

Emmanuel Moseley continued to lock up star receiver Deebo Samuel, while Charvarius Ward didn't allow a catch to Brandon Aiyuk on the day because he was never targeted by Trey Lance.

Of the backups, Deommodore Lenoir and Tariq Castro-Fields continue to shine, with the former beating Danny Gray in a 1-on-1 rep for the second-straight practice, while the latter beat Deebo Samuel in a 1-on-1 rep, although he was beaten for the remainder of his opportunities.

Ambry Thomas remained a member of the third-string defense with cornerback Ka'Darr Hollman and allowed a pair of catches on Friday while displaying soft coverage, playing 5-7 yards off the line of scrimmage with the defensive set.

Unfortunately, it appears that the 49ers don't trust Thomas to win consistently at the catch-point, so they aren't letting him play press-man coverage, his strong suit, and receivers are constantly able to win in soft coverage against the second-year cornerback, whose feel for zone coverage isn't nearly as strong as his man-coverage abilities.

After seeing first-team reps at slot cornerback on Wednesday, rookie Samuel Womack split time with veteran Darqueze Dennard on the first-team defense, with the latter earning the start.

Safeties


There weren't 1-on-1 drills between the safeties and tight ends as there had been on previous days, meaning the position group didn't see much action, despite pads being on.

The 49ers debuted several interesting defensive looks on Friday, with some of them involving safety Talanoa Hufanga, a player not known for his deep speed, in single-high looks, while allowing Jimmie Ward to remain closer to the line of scrimmage.

Safety Tarvarius Moore has seen time with the first-team defense, and could be a member of three-safety sets with the 49ers, especially if Ward continues to play more near the line of scrimmage, be it in the box or the slot.

Remember, over the last two years, Ward has averaged nearly 400 snaps over the top, 200 snaps in the box, and 200 snaps in the slot. That final number could go up if the slot cornerback play turns out to be weaker than expected.

Stay tuned for Wednesday's coverage!
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