The Niners held their first practice of the 2021 season on Wednesday.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said the team is not going to rush the guys coming back from injury by throwing them in team drills right away. So, on the first day of practice, Nick Bosa only did individual drills. Bosa was noticeably leaner:
— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) July 28, 2021
Shanahan said, “Nick takes care of himself better than anyone I’ve ever been around,” so we don’t have to worry about Bosa being rusty when he is inserted back into team drills.
Speaking of defensive linemen, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw did not take part in full-team drills as a precaution after having a procedure on his knee last month. Kinlaw had some swelling, and Shanahan said he’d have a lighter workload early on in camp.
It was the first day of practice, and the players were only in helmets and shorts, so the takeaways were brief. However, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle summed Wednesday’s practice up nicely:
Takeaway after #49ers first practice of training camp: Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance were both sharp; each had multiple whoa throws. Another takeaway: WR Brandon Aiyuk is skilled.
— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) July 28, 2021
Shanahan said he was impressed with Jimmy off schedule during practice. Kyle Juszczyk said Garoppolo had two bootleg plays where he found a receiver for a significant gain.
One of Jimmy’s most underrated aspects, especially during 2017, was his mobility. There aren’t a ton of plays that you have to make outside of structure in Shanahan’s offense, but when those opportunities present themselves, there’s a chance for a big play. So, it’s good to hear Jimmy be comfortable on the move.
Expect more out of the receivers this year
It helps to have receivers you can trust. Garoppolo praised Brandon Aiyuk for being on the same page and having the right body language. Unfortunately, those two didn’t get much of a chance to play together last year once the season started.
A few people who were at practice on Wednesday said Aiyuk was making highlight catch after highlight catch. Aiyuk was closer to being labeled as “raw” than “polished” last season. We saw how dangerous he was as a rookie. It’s tough not to be excited to see Aiyuk 2.0.
Deebo Samuel caught a pass beyond the line of scrimmage. In fact, he caught a deep pass (Samuel had a step on Dontae Johnson) which should be music to everyone’s ears. Samuel spoke to the media after practice and said he’s worked hard this offseason to develop a reputation beyond a catch-and-run guy.
Deebo said he focused on injury prevention this offseason, specifically his hamstrings, hips, feet, and ankles. Samuel said he did hot yoga twice a week with Kendrick Bourne.
Jalen Hurd is alive and well:
— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) July 28, 2021
As was the case with Bosa and Dee Ford, Hurd only participated in individual drills. Seeing him run and look spry is more than enough on Day 1, though.
The wide receiver who stole the show was Mohamed Sanu. Shanahan spent a couple of minutes praising Sanu:
“I think he’s in such a better spot.” He had such a bad high-ankle sprain that last year in New England. We didn’t get him until Week 1, but he wasn’t the same yet.”
Shanahan said Sanu told the team he was good to go this offseason, and they believed him. Shanahan said Sanu looks like the receiver he coached in Atlanta and not the one who had a brief stint with the Niners last year.
Jimmy G on Sanu: “He looks really f’n good, man”
Samuel said he and Aiyuk were upset when the team cut Sanu last year, but they’re happy to have him back: Kind of like what Emmanuel (Sanders) when he had Emmanuel. That’s what we have with Sanu.”
Shanahan said Sanu could be the veteran the young guys rely on or can go to for help when they’re tired of hearing his voice. He compared them to his kids getting tired of hearing their parents so the parents would have their neighbors teach the kids.
Other news & notes:
- The 49ers will put the pads on next Monday for the first time
- Jimmy G cursed twice, which is two more times than ever before. He’s loose, which is a good sign
- Kyle Juszczyk said, “we want to be able to support both of them” when talking about the QBs, which seems to be the theme. They’re teammates. That’s how this works.
- With Emmanuel Moseley on the Reserve/COVID list, Tim Harris took his place with the first-team defense. Shanahan praised Harris for having a good spring
- Daniel Brunskill took reps at right guard with the first team over Aaron Banks. Shanahan said Banks would start when he proves he’s better.
- Trey Sermon took the bulk of the first-team reps at running back. Shanahan said, “I know we wanted to be light on Raheem.” Everyone (running backs wise) on the roster has a chance to make this roster.”