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Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Training Camp Day 4 Breakdown: Offense

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jul 30, 2023 at 5:40 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.

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I broke down every throw that Trey Lance, Sam Darnold, and Brandon Allen threw, both in 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, grading each of their performances on Day 4 of training camp Thursday.

Running Backs

Through the first three practices, each of the 49ers' running backs has had their moments, including undrafted free agent Khalan Laborn, who has been the riser of the unexpected group this offseason.

Christian McCaffrey did not practice on Sunday while Brock Purdy had his rest day, meaning Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, and Tyrion Davis-Price took the majority of the reps at running back.

McCaffrey appears to be on a load management plan, as he's barely played in team drills, which has meant that Lance or Darnold haven't gotten any reps with the star running back during training camp thus far, and that trend continued on Sunday.

For the first time that I've seen, Davis-Price was featured in the back rotation with the first-team offense, signaling his improvement and the coaching staff's belief in him after a disappointing rookie year. Following practice, head coach Kyle Shanahan raved about the second-year back, sharing that he's "taken a huge jump" forward this offseason.

Mason continues to showcase his talents as a runner with his physical approach, but a new issue has propped up: fumbles.

The second-year undrafted free agent coughed up two fumbles on good runs, as defenders punched the ball out both times, making it three total fumbles for Mason thus far in training camp.

Mason's talent as a runner is undeniable, but it'll be tougher to warrant an extended role if he can't control his fumble issues, which have plagued 49ers running backs in the past.

Laborn is the true wildcard for the 49ers, and it seems he's got an outside shot to make the 53-man roster, due to Davis-Price's emergence in Year 2. Still, continued flashes in camp could keep Laborn in the cards and potentially force the team to carry five backs on the roster in 2023.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Aiyuk was easily the best player on the field, once again, on Sunday, making five catches, of which two were redzone touchdowns, and one was a 50-yard score with 35 yards coming after the catch.

Aiyuk has continued to excel, displaying his sticky hands and elite route-running capabilities, and is on pace to potentially top his strong 2022 campaign, even with the amount of top-tier skill position players that San Francisco has.

His availability in practice has been a huge plus for the quarterbacks, and he could be the 49ers' best wideout for a second consecutive year if he maintains his trajectory, regardless of who plays quarterback.

Chris Conley was sprinkled in with the first-team offense during some of the rotations and was the beneficiary of one of Trey Lance's touchdowns, easily beating Ambry Thomas on a route in the redzone for the wide-open score. He and Lance connected for two catches on the day.

Deebo Samuel had three targets on the day, beating backup cornerback Tre Swilling on a slant for a 15-yard pass from Sam Darnold, catching a screen, and missing out on a touchdown opportunity in the redzone due to an errant throw from Trey Lance.

While it was a shorter practice, the wideouts were heavily featured on Sunday, with the top players serving as the main beneficiaries of the targets.

Tight Ends

George Kittle had one of the highlights of the day, connecting with Trey Lance on a 25-yard pass off a play-action leak where he beat Marcelino McCrary-Ball on the route and made the nice catch with George Odum contesting the play.

It wasn't a big day for the tight ends, as Charlie Woerner, Ross Dwelley, and Cameron Latu all didn't see a target, while Brayden Willis's lone target came on a low throw from Brandon Allen that costed the team a touchdown opportunity.

Offensive Line

Trent Williams had a scheduled veteran rest day on Sunday, meaning backup tackle Jaylon Moore earned all the first-team left tackle snaps, working alongside Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, and Colton McKivitz.

Overall, I felt the offensive line had a good day in pass protection, as the quarterbacks had extended time on some of their dropbacks, and were comfortable in the pocket for a majority of the day, which differed from previous practices.

However, the offensive line needs to improve on the little things: false starts, fumbled snaps, etc. There were too many issues pre-snap at the line of scrimmage killing a few plays, while Jake Brendel and Trey Lance had a miscommunication on a snap one practice after the same happened with the second-team offense. Additionally, Nick Zakelj had a botched snap to Sam Darnold on one play.

It was an improvement from the offensive line pass-protection-wise, which was somewhat surprising, given the rest of Trent Williams, but the unit now needs to focus on other aspects of their game.

With padded practices beginning Monday, we'll get a better sense of how the offensive line is functioning, both in team drills and 1-on-1 reps.
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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