Day nine of San Francisco 49ers training camp is in the books, and Niner Noise accumulates the latest news and reports from camp in this latest breakdown.
The San Francisco 49ers concluded their eighth day of training camp today after taking Sunday off.
It’s weird to think the Niners actually have a real football game this Friday, August 11, albeit of the preseason variety. That’s exciting, though, and it will be a nice change to see the players end up on the field for the first time under head coach Kyle Shanahan in a somewhat meaningful game.
Yet not all the news is good.
San Francisco lost linebacker Malcolm Smith to a season-ending pectoral injury during Saturday’s open practice at Levi’s Stadium. Smith ended up on injured reserve Monday, and the Niners signed free-agent rookie linebacker Austin Calitro to a two-year deal:
Smith’s injury, combined with offensive guard Joshua Garnett’s knee issues, have been the biggest problems San Francisco has had to overcome in camp.
Kittle and the rest of the tight end crop has yet to distinguish itself, and it’s worth pointing out the rookie needs all the reps he can get before the regular season commences.
Defensive end DeForest Buckner also returned to practice.
San Francisco 49ers
Reuben Foster a 49ers Starter?
Smith’s injury pushes rookie linebacker Reuben Foster into a likely starting position this season.
Foster worked entirely with the first-team unit on day nine, and it’s all but assured he’ll wind up with the starters when the season kicks off, barring setbacks, of course.
It’s not exactly the best-case scenario, although many fans would probably prefer to see Foster make an impact right away. Yet the Niners could easily rotate other linebackers in to spell Foster and give him a better chance to adjust gradually.
Defense Back Ahead of the Offense
It’s been a pretty consistent story, but the 49ers defense has generally made a bigger name of itself during training camp than the offense.
Early on, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense is simple and allows players to focus more on instincts than thought. Meanwhile, Shanahan’s offense is one of the most complex in the NFL.
But according to Rob Lowder of Niners Wire, the defense is still overtaking the offense:
Two things could be at work here — San Francisco’s front-seven defense is actually that much better and/or the Niners offensive line, sans Garnett, is struggling a bunch.
The truth is probably somewhere in between, but at least the 49ers can feel pretty good about one side of the ball.
San Francisco takes to the road to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday, August 11 at 9 p.m. ET.
Stay tuned to Niner Noise for more training camp and preseason coverage!