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Standout players on Day 4 of 49ers Training Camp

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jul 30, 2023 at 5:15 PM--

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Day 4 of the San Francisco 49ers training camp is officially over, as head coach Kyle Shanahan conducted a shorter practice during the last session before pads come on Monday.

After a few practices where the defense held the upper hand, the offense shined on Day 4, with quarterbacks Trey Lance and Sam Darnold splitting first-team reps as Brock Purdy had a scheduled rest day.

Here were the standout players from Day 4, which I talked about in-depth when recapping the day of practice in our podcast down below.

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WR Brandon Aiyuk

Brandon Aiyuk continues to prove how vital he is to the 49ers offense. Perhaps they should lock in a contract extension sooner than later, because his stock is only going to continue trending upwards.

Aiyuk was unstoppable on Sunday, catching a team-high five passes, with some coming in tight windows, while hauling in three redzone touchdowns, as well as a 15-yarder from Sam Darnold that he ran in for a touchdown.

When Aiyuk is placed against backup defensive backs, he easily beats them with his route-running capabilities, allowing for open throws from quarterbacks, which was the case between him and Sam Darnold on several occasions Sunday.

Additionally, his sticky hands have been on display, as Aiyuk has caught nearly everything thrown his way, regardless of who's around him. He's been the star of 49ers training camp for the second-straight year. Will he be the team's best wideout for a second consecutive year as well? We'll see come Week 1.

DE Drake Jackson

For the second open practice in a row, Drake Jackson makes the "standouts" list in what has been a strong start to training camp for one of the 49ers' most unknown players heading into 2023.

On Sunday, Jackson had the most impressive play of practice, running stride for stride with Elijah Mitchell, who runs a 4.38 40-yard dash, on a running back wheel route, breaking up a pass from Trey Lance that was well-thrown 20 yards down the field with his shoulder.

In addition, Jackson appeared to break up a pass from Lance in the redzone at the line of scrimmage, resulting in another strong day for the defensive end.

Prior to training camp, I listed Jackson as a player to watch, understanding that his responsibility would increase without the presence of star defensive end Nick Bosa. Thus far, he's accepted that challenge and risen to the task.

QB Sam Darnold

Darnold had his best practice yet, completing 7/9 passes, including three touchdowns, with two coming in the redzone, and has strengthened his stance as the most consistent, and arguably best quarterback in the room this camp.

While the other quarterbacks have seen ups and downs, Darnold has been relatively consistent with his play, and his decision-making has been what's stood out, amongst other features of his game, as he's yet to put the ball in harm's way early in camp.

Some of Darnold's longer passes may have been wide open, which is a benefit of playing with Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel while operating as the second-team quarterback, but he's been confident and delivered on-target strikes throughout Sunday's practice, throwing just two inaccurate incompletions.

While Trey Lance has gotten the initial reps without Brock Purdy, Darnold's consistency could be a vital factor in the team's quarterback competition, and he'll look to build on Sunday's performance when pads come on Monday.

DT Kevin Givens

Kevin Givens and Javon Kinlaw saw a major opportunity on Day 1 of training camp when Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead sat out team drills, as the duo became the top defensive tackles during 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s.

Armstead and Hargrave returned to the fold over the past two practices, but sat out of team drills after one set of plays Sunday, meaning that Givens and Kinlaw returned to the first-team defense for the majority of practice.

Givens capitalized on the opportunity, sacking Sam Darnold on his first dropback while with the second-team defense, effectively killing the play.

Givens is in competition with a multitude of defensive linemen to earn one of the 53-man roster spots, and put himself in good shape Sunday with a highlight play.

The OL

I haven't given the offensive line much praise thus far in camp, as the non-padded days generally highlight the defensive line in the battle more, while 1-on-1s haven't begun yet.

However, the offensive line held up well in pass protection on Sunday, as the quarterbacks sometimes got extended time to complete passes in the redzone, which was an added benefit.

We hadn't seen this from the offensive line yet, and while Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave were limited, it's a good sign for the team to be jelling in pass protection early.

Now, they need to begin working on their penalties, because there have been a few snafus over the last two practices where false starts and offsides flags have come into play.
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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