Organized team activities are in full swing now, with mandatory minicamp in session for the San Francisco 49ers. Here are some takeaways from the first day.
These offseason engagements that lead up to training camp are the best glimpse into what to expect moving forward.
It’s only surface-level information, as we only know what we are see and told, but it’s still insight that can be used to make inferences.
With that being said, let’s look into day one of minicamp.
Offense beings to find its groove
Most notably all offseason so far, the San Francisco offense has struggled against the defense.
This was evident in wide receiver Pierre Garçon’s comments last week:
"Apparently we can’t run the ball or throw the ball against our defense so everything is standing out. They are doing a good job with that front seven.It’s very frustrating but it’s part of the offseason, things that you have to go through."
San Francisco 49ers
Well, it appears the learning is starting to turn into tangible results on the field as Hoyer and the offense reportedly got things running smoothly for a stretch of play. Some highlights from the Sacramento Bee‘s Matt Barrows:
- “The first truly deep completion witnessed by reporters, a 50-plus yarder from Brian Hoyer to speedy receiver Marquise Goodwin that came on a play-action fake.”
- “Hoyer also hit tight end George Kittle on a long catch-and-run play in which there seemed to be a busted coverage. Another deep ball from Hoyer, this one to Aldrick Robinson, came with Reaser in coverage.”
They are minimal gains, but gains nonetheless.
…but the defense is still winning
Yet, even with the offense playing better, it was the defense that ultimately stood out. The red-zone drill went to the defense, which featured an end-zone interception by linebacker NaVorro Bowman that highlighted five consecutive stops in the red zone.
EDGE Aaron Lynch also had a sack in the drill, and was a player Matt Maiocco reported to “have a very good pass rushing day.” This is important to watch, as he is a potential LEO candidate and is in a contract year.
The play of the secondary was mostly impressive throughout the day, with the Niner Wire’s Chris Biederman noting the interceptions made on day one. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon is attempting to cement his as the 49ers’ No. 2 cornerback, and the position battle is going to be one of the fiercest in camp.
Defensive line: LEO watch and Hawaii workouts
One of the most intriguing storylines to look for this summer is the LEO position for San Francisco. It’s where the team’s best pass rusher will be placed, and will be a key component to a hopefully 49ers’ dominant defensive line. With the arrival of free agent Elvis Dumervil, matters are more complicated now. Who gets the starting nod?
Right now, Arik Armstead is the guy for San Francisco. And he’s preparing to be that guy:
Armstead has been getting reps at the LEO position so far at camp, so the 49ers are genuinely serious about playing the 6-foot-7-inch defensive lineman on the edge. But with the newly-signed Dumervil —who sat on the sidelines Tuesday— in the mix now, it’s looking more and more like a consistent rotation at LEO rather than one dominating the reps.
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One last tidbit: it is being reported that a group of San Francisco defensive linemen—DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Eli Harold and Ronald Blair— will be heading to Hawaii to workout with defensive end Michael Bennett. Rookie Solomon Thomas might be attending as well.
Day by day, we are gaining more information about these 2017 San Francisco 49ers. Defense seems to be the modus operandi for this squad; just how long will that stay the case for? Only time will tell.