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49ers Notebook: Samuel Womack making his case; Ray-Ray discusses Levi’s debut; The preseason plan for Nick Bosa; Shanahan evaluates Lance, rookies vs. Packers

Aug 12, 2022 at 11:15 PM--

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Not everything was perfect for the San Francisco 49ers in their 28-21 win over the Green Bay Packers on Friday night, but there's no doubt the vibe coming out of the win was mostly positive.

Trey Lance and the other 49ers quarterbacks played well in the win, going a combined 15-of-22 for 212 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. A number of rookie players got extended reps, and several of them did a fine job with their opportunities.

Following the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan talked about those issues and more, while Lance, rookie cornerback Samuel Womack and wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud were among those to meet with reporters. Here's a rundown of some of the key issues discussed, including what Shanahan thinks of Womack's performance to this point, why McCloud was impressed with Levi's Stadium, and why Nick Bosa most likely won't play in the preseason.

Gaining on the nickel spot?

The buzz surrounding Womack has been growing recently, and after snagging two interceptions against the Packers, it will only continue to grow. Can he win the open spot at nickel corner as a rookie? There's a long way to go yet, but so far Womack has been doing the right things.

"He's doing a good job," Shanahan said of Womack. "He's definitely a candidate. He's got a chance to earn that spot. From what it looked like, out there live, it looked like he didn't hurt himself."

Holding down the nickel spot as a rookie won't be easy, but it's something Womack's predecessor, K'Waun Williams, was able to do while Shanahan was an assistant with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

"It's difficult for a rookie to step into any job," Shanahan said. "K'Waun, when I was in Cleveland, he was on the rookie tryout team and he ended up starting that whole year. 2016 when I was in Atlanta and we went to the Super Bowl, we had a rookie seventh-round pick start that whole year. So it's not abnormal but it's got to be the right guy. We'll see how that ends up."

There's no doubt Womack is confident that he can be that guy. He said Friday night he's ready to play wherever the 49ers want him to play.

"I'll play all around in the back end," Womack said. "If they can put me at corner or put me at nickel, I can play it. It's really on them and their decision on where they want to put me."

Womack certainly took a step forward Friday night. Shanahan wasn't ready to pile too much praise on the rookie and fifth-round draft pick before reviewing the game film, but he was impressed with the fact Womack came away with two interceptions.

"I'd like to watch the tape," Shanahan said. "I know when you get two picks, that's a big deal. So it was a good job covering the guy and making both of those plays... But you come up with those picks, that's a hell of a start, and we'll see what he did on the other 40 plays."

As for Womack, he couldn't have been happier with how his first preseason game turned out. He felt like he made he most of the chances he was given against the Packers.

"I feel like I had a great game tonight," Womack said. "I still have stuff that I have to learn from and get better at, but I feel like I was taking advantage of my opportunities."

Shanahan on Drake Jackson, Spencer Burford

Two other rookies who were under the spotlight against the Packers were defensive end Drake Jackson and guard Spencer Burford. Jackson was forced to leave the game early due to a shoulder injury, but in his time on the field he showed the high-end ability that makes him such a promising prospect.

"I think it's still early," Shanahan said. "I don't think he played a ton. I thought he went out pretty early. Looks like he got hurt on the scramble -- did a good job chasing the quarterback down, showing his athletic ability and speed. That's really all I saw of him though because he had to go out after that."

Burford played three quarters as a starter at right guard. He's been given every opportunity to win that spot by running with the first team throughout camp, and on Friday he was handed a high amount of reps in order to help prepare him for what's to come. Shanahan noticed a couple errors on Burford's part during the game but was pleased with how much playing time he was able to receive.

"I know when he makes a mistake. That's usually the case on the O-Line -- you only notice when someone messes up," Shanahan said. "If not, you're looking downfield. So I know he had a couple mistakes today like they all did, but it was good to have him out there, get that playing time for three quarters. You can't do that enough with rookies, especially rookie O-Linemen. I think (left guard) Banks got to play the whole first half too, which is good for him. I'm excited to see the film on both of them."

No Nick for you?

Anyone wanting to see Nick Bosa in game action will probably have to wait until the regular season, based on what Shanahan said Friday night.

Bosa in previous years has missed preseason games due to injury, but this year he's fully healthy and could certainly play if he wanted to. There doesn't seem to be any need to do that, however, so it sounds like Shanahan isn't in a rush to get Bosa on the field unless Bosa himself insisted on playing.

"He never has before and he's done alright, so I think that proves (he doesn't need preseason games)," Shanahan said. "Nick has prepared whether we're helping him prepare or he's prepared on his own. So if he came to me and that was something he really wanted to do and made sense of it, I'd have no problem. But that's not something that matters much to me."

Shanahan on Trey, and Trey on Trey

Lance played two possessions Friday night and led the 49ers to 10 points while finishing 4-of-5 for 92 yards and one long touchdown (a 76-yarder to Danny Gray) along with one seven-yard run. It wasn't a big sample size, but Shanahan liked what he saw.

"It seemed solid," Shanahan said of Lance. "The first play, he didn't have one, made a good scramble. It was nice to come down with that third down play to Danny. So he did some good things -- it was a good first game. Wish we would have kept him out there more but gotta get him out."

Lance seemed to view the game as an extension of practice, saying it was another opportunity to improve and get his teammates involved.

"Kind of the training camp mindset," Lance said. "Be efficient, move the ball, take care of the ball, give those guys a chance. The offensive line did a great job, young guys did a great job. It's a lot more fun to win."

Ray-Ray's debut

Other than losing a fumble late in the first half, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud had a solid debut for the 49ers after signing as a free agent with the team earlier in the offseason. McCloud finished with four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown, during which he shook a defender to get wide open for a 39-yard score.

For McCloud, Friday's game wasn't the ordinary preseason game because it was the first time he played at Levi's Stadium. He got to experience his new home crowd for the first time and liked what he experienced.

"For me it was a different feeling," McCloud said. "Just seeing the energy that it comes with here, and it's real. You've got to really be here to understand it. And that's just a preseason game. I can't imagine when there's playoffs on the line and the season and NFC Championships."

McCloud praised the fans, saying, "For a preseason game, there was a lot of people there. And actually they were there four quarters. Most people at halftime start leaving. They were there four quarters, celebrating, cheering. And when you're a player on the field, that's a big factor."

As for how he got so open on his play, McCloud first said "God" but then credited the work he's been putting in at practice on the route he ran.

"Opportunity and preparation," McCloud said. "At practice, staying after practicing that particular route and just where to hit it, timing, getting our depth and just being where we need to be at. In the game, it kind of was like, why is it so hard at practice and it was easier here? But I just caught his blind spot and took it back to the middle of the field."

Shanahan certainly gave the thumbs-up to the play, and to the quality of McCloud's route.

"It was good. It was nice," Shanahan said. "He had a good look based off the safety and it was his job to beat the corner, and I thought he did as good as you could."

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