Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Training Camp Day 9 Breakdown: Offense

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 6, 2022 at 7:30 PM--


The San Francisco 49ers continued their padded practice sessions on Saturday, as they began involving more move-the-ball sessions and 2-minute drills during the 11-on-11 scrimmage periods.

RELATED: 49ers Training Camp Day 9 Breakdown: Defense
RELATED: 49ers Training Camp Day 9 Breakdown: 11-on-11s



Offense


Quarterbacks

Trey Lance completed 11/19 passes today, which included a drop by Jauan Jennings, finishing the day strong during the move-the-ball and 2-minute sessions after a slow start to practice.

In the regular 11-on-11 session, Lance completed 2/6 passes with a drop, while finishing 4/7 with an interception during the move-the-ball period, and 5/6 with a touchdown during the 2-minute session.

Lance continues to be inconsistent with accuracy downfield, as he missed an open George Kittle down the right sideline for a would-be touchdown, overthrowing the tight end on the play.

Lance also continues to work on his accuracy in the middle of the field, missing wide on a Deebo Samuel out-route, which has occurred on a couple of plays throughout training camp.

Additionally, Lance's interception came on a play during which he was pressured facing his left side, turned, and didn't see Jimmie Ward while throwing to Elijah Mitchell in the flat, who read the quarterback's eyes, sprinted in, and recorded a pick-six on the play.

However, following the interception, which came on Lance's final throw of the move-the-ball period, the quarterback delivered on an eight-play, 65-yard touchdown drive with 1:15 remaining in a 2-minute drill, completing an array of passes that included a 15-yard strike to Ray-Ray McCloud for a touchdown as time expired.

During the move-the-ball stretch, after starting with a 3-and-out, Lance and the 49ers' running backs kept the offense rolling and moved the ball successfully all the way down the field during their second drive, prior to the interception on the third drive.

Overall, Lance was inconsistent, but bounced back twice for two extended drives that showcased the potential of the 49ers' offensive attack with the 22-year-old quarterback at the helm.

Backup Nate Sudfeld had a second-straight solid performance leading the second-team offense, completing 13/18 passes, including 7/8 in the move-the-ball period, as well as 1/4 in the 2-minute drill.

Sudfeld was more conservative than during Wednesday's performance, when he completed a variety of deeper passes to receivers en route to a 14/16 day, but still had an efficient passing attack on Saturday, leading the 2nd-team offense down the field on a successful drive during the move-the-ball period.

Brock Purdy had only six attempts on Saturday, completing four passes, including a nice 35-yard completion to an open Ray-Ray McCloud crossing towards the right sideline.

Running Backs

Elijah Mitchell continued his strong training camp performance on Saturday, taking a majority of the 1st-team carries, while breaking away for a couple of good runs with improved quickness and explosiveness.

Tyrion Davis-Price had a second-straight strong performance, while Jeff Wilson Jr. got first-team carries, as well as Trey Sermon.

Davis-Price showcased the ability to get to the edge, while also exhibiting power and acceleration during his runs. When he's decisive, Davis-Price looks the mold of an NFL back, although; he can be inconsistent at times, hesitating to make reads on certain plays.

Sermon had another good day, reaching the edge on a rush as well, while having a number of good carries in the inside zone game. While he and Davis-Price have yet to gain significant first-team carries, the duo have been impressive backups to Elijah Mitchell overall during training camp at times.

Sermon, unfortunately, had a dropped pass during 1-on-1s, and hasn't really been seen much in a receiving role, raising questions as to whom could claim that spot on the roster.

It appears that the 49ers will ride with the hot hand during the season, similar to their 2019 rushing strategy, as when running backs were playing well, head coach Kyle Shanahan stuck with the player for a couple of reps, rather than rotating in, which has been on several occasions during training camp so far.

Jeff Wilson Jr. continued to get some first-team reps, showcasing his vision, although his explosiveness and pure speed appear to have taken a hit from his pre-injury form. Still, based on the rotation, Wilson Jr. looks like a contender for that fourth running back spot, and could even be seen as the favorite, despite his age.

JaMycal Hasty had a nice 10-yard carry to the outside on Saturday, showing off his explosiveness on the play. However, Hasty dropped another pass during 1-on-1s, with this one bouncing off his hands on a wheel route.

The battle for that fourth running back spot between Wilson Jr., Hasty, and Mason remains alive and well.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Aiyuk continued his strong training camp, winning against Samuel Womack during his 1-on-1 rep, while also catching three passes on four targets, with the only incompletion being on a triple-covered play where Lance tried fitting it in, to no avail.

Surprisingly, Aiyuk was targeted just once by Lance on his seven attempts in the move-the-ball stage, while not seeing a target during Lance's 2-minute drill touchdown drive. The 49ers' defense seems to be heavily guarding the receiver, leaving 1-on-1 opportunities elsewhere.

Overall, Aiyuk's biggest improvement has been with his release package, as he's consistently winning at the line of scrimmage, which, when packaged with his route-running ability, makes him an open target for quarterbacks.

Star receiver Deebo Samuel still looks to be working out of his rust, as he, once again, couldn't win on go-routes, getting clamped by cornerback Emmanuel Moseley on a deep incompletion.

However, head coach Kyle Shanahan schemed up a number of intermediate crossing routes for Samuel, which he excelled at, catching a 20-yard pass from Nate Sudfeld and running down the opposite side of the field, which could've potentially been a touchdown. Ambry Thomas was in soft coverage on the play, allowing Samuel to create space with a crosser, as he accelerated towards the middle of the field.

Then, Samuel caught a 25-30 yard crosser from Trey Lance for their first bigger connection, with the young quarterback making a nice throw while Tarvarius Moore was in coverage.

Samuel evidently is still working back into the football groove, but the explosion and acceleration were visible on the two crossing-routes, which may be more heavily featured rather than the go-routes early.

Jauan Jennings had yet another up-and-down day during training camp. Jennings's issue doesn't appear to be with talent, but instead his concentration during catches, as he dropped a wide-open pass over the middle from Trey Lance after running a good route.

Jennings had a good performance on Thursday with two deeper catches from Nate Sudfeld, and caught a 15-yard out-route from Sudfeld today as well, but has acclimated several drops during the second week of training camp, be it in 1-on-1s or during scrimmages.

Ray-Ray McCloud, San Francisco's other slot receiver, has been the second-most consistent receiver for the 49ers this offseason. McCloud has, time and time again, found ways to separate against the backups, getting a 35-yard catch on a crossing route today, easily beating rookie cornerback Qwuantrezz Knight on the play.

McCloud also had a 20-yard catch on Deommodore Lenoir during the move-the-ball period, which resulted in a first down as the last play of the drive for the second unit. It's important to note that, on the play, McCloud was met at the catch point by safety George Odum, who likely would've laid him out and broken up the pass had the intensity been higher.

However, it's noticeable that McCloud hasn't seen much action with the first-team offense, despite his overall success. While he's shifty, it could be due to the press-man abilities of San Francisco's top corners, which works against his slighter frame.

In the slot though, McCloud seems like an interesting candidate for some extended touches, especially given his ability to run various routes and be a swiss-army knife weapon for the 49ers.

In other receiver news, Danny Gray burned Tariq Castro-Fields and Tarvarius Moore on a 45-yard deep route, but was overthrown by Brock Purdy on a would-be touchdown. Gray also won his 1-on-1 rep against third-string cornerback Ka'Darr Hollman on the day.

Gray continues his inconsistent pattern, having a good day on Saturday after being quieter on Friday. However, his struggles to win against the top cornerbacks on the roster should be noted, tempering his expectations during his rookie season, at least for the early portion as he works through struggles he encountered during his college film as well.

In other receiver news, Malik Turner had another good day, beating Deommodore Lenoir with his 1-on-1 rep. Turner had another two catches on Saturday, getting a 25-yard catch on Deommodore Lenoir during the move-the-ball period on a pass from Nate Sudfeld for a first-down. He earned two other targets, but both plays were off-target throws down the field.

While Turner's time with the first-team offense on certain sets has definitely diminished with the re-emergence of Deebo Samuel with the unit, the veteran receiver has been a standout as a backup during training camp, showcasing his deep-threat abilities, but also his reliability as a receiver, apart from a drop on Friday.

Turner's deep-threat ability has been even more consistent than the faster Danny Gray, given that he's been the better route-runner, and if he makes the 53-man roster, don't be surprised if the former Seahawk receives more playing time than the rookie early. He appears to be the favorite to win that sixth receiver spot should the 49ers carry that many players at the position on their 53-man.

However, rookie Tay Martin continues to be a sleeper candidate, once again winning his 1-on-1 rep on Saturday, beating slot cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Martin has seen limited action during 11-on-11s, putting his chances of making the 53-man roster into some doubt, but has exhibited an NFL-esque release package during his 1-on-1 reps, as well as solid route-running and reliable hands.

Tight Ends

Tight end George Kittle continues to be one of the most-relied upon targets for Trey Lance, as the duo connected for three catches on five targets for the day. Kittle seems to be more adjusted with Lance, who utilizes the tight end as not only a security blanket, but a main target in the deep-intermediate range of the field.

The Iowa product's two misconnections came amongst two of Lance's four completions in the early period, with the quarterback looking for his tight end in double-coverage on a play, which was broken up, and the second being a missed would-be touchdown off an overthrow to a wide open Kittle, who had gotten behind Charvarius Ward and the defending safety on the play.

After not seeing any action during the move the ball period, Kittle was targeted three times during the 2-minute drill. First, Lance found him on a 17-yard completion, with Kittle getting out of bounds to preserve the clock. Then, Lance moved the chains to Kittle on a 5-yard catch for a first down, before hitting him yet again on a 3-yard out before the final touchdown to McCloud as time expired.

Kittle also got the better of Talanoa Hufanga during their 1-on-1 encounter, and has had a strong start to training camp while making the adjustment from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance.

The remainder of the tight ends continue to be afterthoughts in the offense, with only Ross Dwelley and Troy Fumagalli earning a target a piece on Saturday. It could be a concern for the 49ers, who have seen Kittle not play a full season since his 1,377-yard season in 2018.

Tanner Hudson has been seen in sets with Kittle with the first-team offense, having a pancake block on Friday, while seeing occasional targets on certain days in training camp.

It's interesting to see 49ers' backup quarterbacks constantly look elsewhere during offensive drives, despite their known conservativeness, so preseason will likely determine the battle of who sticks on the 49ers roster amongst the several tight ends seeing run.

Offensive Line

Jake Brendel took the first-team snaps at center on Saturday, continuing the 49ers' game of musical chairs after center Daniel Brunskill had taken the first-team snaps at the position on Friday. The two have been switching every two series with the first and second-team offense.

After their strongest performance of training camp on Friday, the offensive line initially looked good on Saturday, but their performance waned towards the second half of the day, especially alongside the interior.

The 49ers' offensive line held up for the first 25 snaps of scrimmage on Saturday, but began to falter afterwards, with guard Spencer Burford struggling to anchor, which in return resulted in two straight pressures allowed, including a sack to defensive lineman Charles Omenihu. For reference, the 49ers had 73 snaps overall on Saturday.

Aaron Banks, who has struggled with his own anchor during 1-on-1s this week, also was inconsistent in pass-protection on Saturday towards the second-half of the day.

However, the starting tackles looked good on Saturday in their limited reps, with Mike McGlinchey not appearing to allow many pressures on the right side, while also having several reps where he correctly blocked the edge rusher to the outside, giving his quarterback time to step up and operate in the pocket.

Overall, the run-blocking was at its strongest on Saturday though, as the running lanes opened during both inside and outside-zone rushes helped field good performances from Elijah Mitchell, Tyrion Davis-Price, and Trey Sermon on the day.

It's hard to exactly quantify the number of sacks that the offensive line is giving up on a daily basis, due to Lance's ability to escape the pocket not really being tested, making preseason a better indicator of the offensive line's performance due to the increase in intensity.

Another observation: rookie guard Nick Zakelj was a pleasant surprise during 1-on-1 drills on Saturday. After having a bit of a developmental period to begin training camp, Zakelj had a nice rep against Alex Barrett, while also beating defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche twice on different reps. He likely doesn't fit as an impact player on the 49ers offensive line, but it's good to see some strides from the Fordham product, who was relegated to the third-team offensive line earlier this week after mainly playing at right guard on the second-team offensive line during Week 1.

Stay tuned for Saturday's coverage!
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.



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