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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Training Camp Day 7 Breakdown: Offense

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 3, 2023 at 6:21 PM--

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Day 7 of the San Francisco 49ers training camp is officially over, as it was a lighter practice following an off day Wednesday, as the team implemented a ton of play-action work, while several key players on either side of the ball rested.

The offense had a good day, as each of the quarterbacks played solid collectively, despite the absence of left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Aaron Banks, and running back Christian McCaffrey, amongst others.

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

Running Backs

The running backs just continue to impress, no matter who's on the field, speaking volumes about both the talent and depth at the position for the 49ers.

With Christian McCaffrey resting and Elijah Mitchell sidelined due to an adductor strain, Jordan Mason and Tyrion Davis-Price split first-team reps, and both players continue to look the part, which creates a completely different question: do the 49ers feel comfortable moving Elijah Mitchell now, understanding the depth at the position?

Davis-Price has been the most consistent running back of training camp, as Mason dealt with some early fumble issues, while McCaffrey has been in and out with load management and Mitchell has been injured. But, that's not to take away from the others, as Mason has picked up right where he left off last season, apart from the fumbles, and McCaffrey looks as good as ever.

Even Elijah Mitchell has looked really solid when on the field, however; the injury bug in the lower body has caught up with him again, as he'll be sidelined a week with the adductor strain.

Behind the top four, undrafted free agents Khalan Laborn and Ronald Awatt continue to look the part of NFL running backs, with the former having a nice run weaving through the second level of the defense from left to right for a big gain on Thursday, while the latter was my biggest "standout" of the group on the day.

Overall, the running backs are looking real good, and that was reiterated through Thursday's performances.

Wide Receivers

The wide receiver talent is really starting to stand out as well in what could be an intriguing roster decision come August 30th, as the 49ers have several contenders at the back end of the position group that have a real argument to make the 53-man roster.

Brandon Aiyuk stacked up another solid day, working mainly in the short and intermediate portions of the field, developing a rapport with all three quarterbacks, and most importantly, catching literally every single ball thrown his way.

Aiyuk has 23 catches in seven training camp practices, according to Sports Illustrated's Grant Cohn, and I've charted just one drop throughout the period, with a number of tough catches sprinkled in between.

The true talking point with this group, however, is the competition on the backend.

Danny Gray caught another impressive pass, leaping to get a well-placed ball from Sam Darnold 20 yards downfield in what has been a good start to training camp for the second-year wideout, who needed a strong offseason after an underwhelming Year 1.

Gray was featured on several occasions and has benefitted from consistently rotating between the different offensive groups, gaining as many reps as possible, with cornerback Charvarius Ward noting that the wideout has gotten better as a route-runner and blocked with more emphasis this offseason.

Tay Martin continues to stand out, connecting with Trey Lance again, this time on a deep 15-yard out route that was well-placed and well-ran for a nice completion in team drills. Martin is one of a few names that are firmly in the competition to make the 53-man roster, especially if the 49ers look to carry six wideouts on the team.

Tight Ends

It's safe to say that the tight end competition has been a bit underwhelming after the 49ers drafted two rookies to compete with the veterans at the position behind George Kittle. But, over the last two practices, there may be a backup that is slowly starting to emerge from the pack: seventh-rounder Brayden Willis.

After a solid practice Tuesday, Willis stacked up another strong day of work, seeing several targets Thursday, and making a nice catch near the sidelines from Trey Lance on a play-action rollout to the left side.

Willis earned a place on my "standouts" list for his performance Thursday, and has become a reliable checkdown option for quarterbacks, as he has yet to drop a pass during team drills in training camp thus far.

Cameron Latu saw some action today as well on a 10-yard pass from Sam Darnold off play-action during the move-the-ball period, while Charlie Woerner caught a screen pass as well, although the latter did commit a false start penalty as well.

It seems the 49ers will carry four tight ends on the team, and with Willis playing well, the battle may very well be between Woerner and Dwelley for the final spot, while there's also a potential chance they carry three, cutting down numbers even more.

Offensive Line

With left tackle Trent Williams taking a scheduled veteran rest day and Aaron Banks, Jaylon Moore, and Jon Feliciano all out due to injury, it would be safe to assume that the 49ers' offensive line would struggle again, given they allowed six and eight sacks over the past two practices, respectively.

Nope. It was the exact opposite as Leroy Watson resumed LT1 duties and Nick Zakelj rotated with Jason Poe as the top left guard. The 49ers' offensive line didn't allow a single sack on 25 dropbacks in team drills, holding up well in pass protection against the full first-team defense line.

While there were a few pressures, the 49ers' offensive line managed to hang in there, while the quarterbacks did a good job of getting the ball out quick enough to avoid those negative plays, something that hadn't consistently been the case during camp thus far.

The lone negative for the offensive line came with false start penalties, as the offense had four on the day, although at least one was against the skill position players, which was somewhat expected on a sloppy day due to the constant rotation and new groupings at the position with the front five.

Still, it was certainly an impressive day from a pass protection standpoint, and the 49ers need to build off their current momentum, as they'll continue to face a tough challenge from the defense ahead of joint practices with the Las Vegas Raiders next week.
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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