Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


49ers 2018 training camp: 4 things to watch for on day nine

Aug 5, 2018 at 8:43 AM


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After taking a players' day off on Aug. 4, the San Francisco 49ers resume 2018 training camp on Sunday looking both to get healthy and find some focus after two relatively lackluster practices. 49ers Webzone breaks down what you should be looking for from this practice.


The San Francisco 49ers had two of the tougher days of practice last Thursday and Friday. Niners Wire's Chris Biderman referred to day seven of practice as "sloppy," and that appeared to carry over into day eight, even prompting head coach Kyle Shanahan to interrupt the practice and initiate a not-so-friendly pep talk, according to Niners Nation's Jennifer Lee Chan.

"I just told them early on I wasn't going to do that today," Shanahan said, via NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. "We had to lock in. We had to tough through this. I didn't want to waste a day. I think guys were working, but I want people mindful in everything they do and not going through the motions so we're getting better out there, not just getting tired."

Saturday's day off couldn't come soon enough, and not just mentally. A number of Niners have been banged up too, and the day off should do some good here.

With day nine of practice kicking off at 1:15 p.m. Sunday, however, there should be a renewed focus for the players and coaches involved. After all, San Francisco kicks off the preseason this upcoming Thursday with a home bout against the Dallas Cowboys. Sure, it's meaningless football (kind of) but still carries a lot of weight for players on the fringes of the roster looking to get every opportunity they can.

Rediscovering that focus is one thing fans will want to pay attention to out of this bunch during Sunday's session. But there's more, and here are four additional notes to watch on day nine of camp.

Getting Healthy


One of the bigger injuries of note was to cornerback Richard Sherman, who started nursing his right hamstring after covering wide receiver Pierre Garçon on one particular drill. The Niners took him out of practice, although Sherman didn't seem to indicate it was anything serious, according to the San Jose Mercury News' Cam Inman.

It seems to be a precautionary matter, especially with Sherman still being eased back into reps after tearing his Achilles with the Seattle Seahawks last season. Still, hamstring injuries can be tricky things, so it wouldn't be a shock of Sherman misses another day of practice.

Another player missing practices of late has been third-year offensive guard Joshua Garnett, who banged his surgically repaired knee with a teammate on day three of camp. Garnett has yet to return to the field, which prompted Shanahan to note he was "surprised" the Stanford product wasn't on the field. On a good note, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Garnett's knee wouldn't require surgery, just more rehabilitation:


Still, Garnett is locked in a competition for the starting right guard spot with fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper, who has been easing his way back into practice after offseason MCL surgery, as well as linemen Mike Person and Erik Magnuson. Garnett needs all the reps he can get between now and Week 1.

Rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis experienced some groin tightness. Defensive tackle Arik Armstead (hamstring) remains week-to-week, while linebacker Brock Coyle (hip), O-lineman J.P. Flynn (knee), tight end Cole Wick (knee) and rookie linebacker Fred Warner (chest) didn't practice, per Maiocco.

Rediscovering the Running Game


For most of training camp, the 49ers ground attack has been pretty explosive. Running backs Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida and Joe Williams have been pretty dominant, however that changed during Friday's session.

Niners Wire's Rob Lowder explained:

The 49ers' running game struggled in Friday's practice. The defense was routinely sniffing out the play at or near the line of scrimmage with plenty of tackles for loss. It was a rare misstep for what is usually the most productive part of the 49ers' offense.

In the very first play of team drills, [Jimmy] Garoppolo handed the ball to running back Matt Breida, who bounced the ball left attempting to find a lane. He was met immediately by linebacker Reuben Foster, who launched Breida to ground for what would have been a five-yard loss.

An off practice doesn't mean much for McKinnon, who is cemented in as the team's No. 1 runner. But it does carry weight for backup tailbacks Breida and Williams, who are battling it out for the No. 2 spot behind McKinnon. And with the Niners' plethora of moves this offseason to upgrade the ground game, getting this unit performing at a high level once again will be a priority.

Can Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis Continue to Flash?


Throughout training camp, wide receivers Pettis and Marquise Goodwin have arguably been the team's top performers. Goodwin has been almost impossible to cover, using the combination of his Olympic-level speed and vastly improved route-running abilities to easily burn past Niners defensive backs in both one-on-one and 11-on-11 drills.

That's been impressive, but so has Pettis. While he's dealing with a groin issue now, his own route-running technique has been on full display.

Plays like this illustrate why:


Pro Football Focus ranked the 49ers wide receiver corps No. 24 in the league heading into 2018. It's not a surprise, really. Outside of Garçon, the Niners don't exactly have that big-name receiver who'd classify as a household name. And it's not too uncommon to see more of the national media focusing on such big-name players in advance of the regular season.

But Shanahan's offense doesn't exactly need a true No. 1 wideout, especially considering how much his system is predicated on spreading the ball around and getting receivers open.

As long as both Goodwin and Pettis continue to showcase their talents, there shouldn't be any concern what PFF had to say about this unit.

Jimmy Garoppolo's Deep Passing


Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's deep ball was one of the few concerns pundits and analysts had about the signal-caller's skill set entering 2018. And early in camp, it seemed as if that was going to be the case, as Garoppolo missed Goodwin on a couple of deep routes.

Garoppolo held Goodwin back after practice and worked on the deep-passing connection. It paid off the next day, as Garoppolo was able to find Goodwin on some deep throws in full 11-on-11 sessions. Following last Thursday's practice, Garoppolo held back additional receivers too, per 49ers.com's Joe Fann:


The extra work seems to have been paying off. Garoppolo hit Goodwin on a 75-yard touchdown pass earlier that day.

Yet perhaps the biggest benefactor of Garoppolo's arm has been second-year tight end George Kittle, who was a regular red-zone weapon on Friday. Kittle has surpassed veteran tight end Garrett Celek on the team's depth chart, and there's no doubt Kittle's role this season will be an increased one.

Still, even just flashing the ability to pass deep should open up things for Garoppolo, Kittle and the remainder of the 49ers offense when the regular season commences.

San Francisco will engage in three practices from Sunday through Tuesday before a walk-through on Wednesday and its preseason kickoff Thursday night against the Cowboys at Levi's Stadium.
  • 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.


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