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49ers training camp 2018: What to watch for on day four

Jul 28, 2018 at 3:00 PM


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The San Francisco 49ers wrap up their fourth day of 2018 training camp practices Sunday. Here's what you'll want to watch for during the final session of Week 1.


The first week of San Francisco 49ers training camp is nearly in the books, and the Niners donned pads for the first time on Saturday in what head coach Kyle Shanahan called "our best day all around."

Running back Matt Breida continued to be a force on offense, while linebacker Reuben Foster was flying all over the field in a fashion fans got to know a season ago. On top of that, rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis shook off some early camp struggles and looked far more fluid and decisive than the previous two days of practice.

With an off day on Monday, Sunday's session will mark the close of the opening week.

Here's what fans should watch for when practice kicks off on day four.

Can Wide Receiver Richie James Keep It Up?


One of the bigger camp standouts, so far, has been rookie seventh-round draft pick Richie James.

James had a nice 30-yard grab from quarterback C.J. Beathard on the first day and backed it up with some additional nice plays on day two.

The 49ers' battle at wide receiver is going to be pretty heated between now and Week 1. Wideouts Trent Taylor, Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are all locks to make the roster. San Francisco also likely keeps depth receivers Kendrick Bourne and possibly Aaron Burbridge, primarily for his role on special teams.

But if James continues to flash his own playmaking ability, it will be impossible for Shanahan to keep him off the roster and stash him on the practice squad.

Reuben Foster's Tackling Technique


Foster is arguably the 49ers' best defender on the field right now. Yet he carries an injury history from his time in college at Alabama, namely a shoulder injury that influenced him falling deep in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Niners are working with Foster to ensure his at-times reckless tackling doesn't lead to unnecessary injury risks.

"He's working at [improving his technique]," Shanahan said on Saturday. "It's showing. I think that's the hardest thing for all athletes. You do things that make you successful your entire life; then you see there are different ways to do things."

NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco shared some of the work Foster is doing at camp:


"That's why you have to have a physical practice," Shanahan continued. "We're trying to get Reuben to use his hands a little bit more, not always hit with his shoulders and stuff."

Foster missed six games with injuries last season. And while he'll be suspended the first two games of 2018, the 49ers are hopeful those games will be the only times he'll be absent this upcoming year.

Jimmy Garoppolo's Deep Ball


After something of an off day to open up camp, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense surged back nicely on day two.

Day three of practice was a bit more hit and miss, though, as Garoppolo struggled with his deep passing and missed Goodwin on two down-the-field attempts.

"Yeah, just give him more opportunities at it and get more reps," Shanahan commented about the missed passes. "I'm not worried about making those, but they're not automatic. You need to practice them."

On the positive side, Garoppolo did complete a nice down-field pass to Pettis, although the quarterback wasn't having to deal with any pressure (h/t Fourth and Nine's Dylan DeSimone):


Deep-ball passing has been one of only a few concerns surrounding Garoppolo's game, so look to see if it's an area of improvement Sunday.

Who Wins Out at Running Back?


Day three of practice proved to be a good one for the 49ers' crop of tailbacks. Breida, Jerick McKinnon and Joe Williams all had good days, although the biggest camp battle is surely for the Nos. 2 and 3 spots on San Francisco's depth chart.

With McKinnon all but locked in as the starter, a key battle to watch will be between Breida and Williams. So far, Breida is doing everything possible to cement his role as McKinnon's complementary piece. But Williams, who missed all of 2017 with an ankle injury, has had himself some solid moments too.

Maiocco described two particular plays that should be vital in determining Williams' future:

Late in practice, Williams took a toss to the left side, cut up field and blasted through an opening for what would've been a long gain. It was that kind of decisiveness and urgency that seemed to be lacking from Williams a year ago. ...

While he has shown the good, there was also some of the bad early in practice when he was stripped of the football on his second carry of an 11-on-11 run drill.

Ball security was an issue Williams dealt with both in college and during training camp last year. Along with Breida, Williams is battling it out with special teams ace Raheem Mostert for what will likely be no more than two remaining spots on the 49ers depth chart at the position.

The fourth day of 49ers training camp kicks off on Sunday, July 28 at 1:15 p.m. ET.
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.
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.


1 Comment

  • John K.
    How did the guard battle go today? Who do you think the front runners are based on today's practice?
    Jul 28, 2018 at 3:55 PM
    0

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