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49ers Training Camp Day 8 Breakdown: Defense

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 5, 2023 at 11:09 AM--

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Day 8 of the San Francisco 49ers training camp is officially over, as it was the longest practice that the team ran, consisting of 13 periods, rather than the usual 12, with the final session lasting nearly 23 minutes in a heavy scrimmage day.

The offense and defense each had their moments, as the quarterbacks compiled a second consecutive day of good collective performances, while the defensive line rebounded with a number of pressures and at least five sacks.

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Defensive Line

The defensive line got the better of the offensive line in practice, as has been the case for the majority of training camp, getting to the quarterback on five different occasions, with a few more pressures sprinkled in.

Clear winners of the day were defensive end Taco Charlton, and defensive tackles Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave.

Charlton recorded two wins in 1-on-1s, beating Leroy Watson and Ilm Manning with a nice spin move, while getting a pressure and a run stop in team drills, displaying his two-dimensional play. Since his arrival, he's arguably been the best defensive end on the team.

Armstead was a consistent force in team drills, recording a near sack on a play, while appearing to finish the job on another, while Hargrave won both of his 1-on-1 reps, while getting a run stuff as well.

Elsewhere, the defensive tackles continue to eat. T.Y. McGill consistently wins 1-on-1 reps and is building off where he ended last season. He might be the best backup defensive tackle, although a few have impressed.

Javon Kinlaw continues to work well against the backups, showcasing promise as a pass-rusher, but does sometimes show inconsistencies with his pad level, leading to some struggles against the top linemen in 1-on-1s.

Alex Barrett continues to be a training camp killer, with the highlight of the day coming in a 1-on-1 rep against Trent Williams, where the defensive end used a long arm and impressively pushed the tackle all the way back into the pocket. Interestingly enough, Barrett talked some trash to Williams for a few seconds after before a coach moved him back to the defensive line group.

Drake Jackson has been up and down, shining in the beginning of training camp, but not flashing as much this week, with others looking better and better.

Jackson's main issues are the same: he struggles with strength and disengaging from blockers on some 1-on-1 reps. His speed and bend will ultimately win him a few reps, but he's not as refined yet with his pass-rushing moves.


The backup linebacker battle is heating up.

At this point, Marcelino McCrary-Ball is closer to earning a starting spot as the third linebacker than being on the roster bubble. He's the real deal and a developmental player to watch for the 49ers in the future.

The real battle is between the rookies Dee Winters and Jalen Graham, who both have presented a compelling argument to make the 53-man roster.

Graham stood out again, working well in 1-on-1s, both in coverage and as a pass-rusher, while making a big hit for a short gain in team drills, getting to the line of scrimmage quickly.

Now comes the question: do the 49ers value future development, or special-teams value in the present? That could ultimately determine who earns the final spot on the 53-man roster.

Defensive backs

Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir both faced their biggest challenge of training camp collectively on Friday, with both players giving up tough catches on great plays by the receivers.

Deebo Samuel got Ward in the endzone on a fade route, mossing him at the catch point for a touchdown on a good delivery from Brock Purdy.

Brandon Aiyuk got the better of Lenoir on a 25-yard catch downfield on a phenomenal catch from the receiver.

Ambry Thomas had his best day yet, breaking up a pass intended for George Kittle in coverage, while having two stops in the run game.

D'Shawn Jamison impressed again, and is receiving rave reviews from coaches. He had a near pick of Sam Darnold, breaking well on the ball, although it was after a sack.

Of the undrafted free agents, him and Khalan Laborn have the best shot to make the roster, it seems.

Of the safeties, Tashaun Gipson recorded his first splash play, intercepting Brock Purdy on a poor decision, which came after a sack.

On the other hand, Ji'Ayir Brown has been a quiet name to begin training camp. It's not a bad thing, as he hasn't been on the end of many poor plays, but he hasn't flashed either, although a preseason setting should be a better evaluator.
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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