On Day 6 of training camp, the San Francisco 49ers offense began to hit its stride early, but then the defense, sans Deforest Buckner and Dee Ford, finished strong.
If there could ever be a day in San Francisco 49ers training camp where neither side was outmatched, today would be that day.
Although the defense probably “won” the day for the Niners, the offense had a good flow and managed to do some unique things, like this:
That’s right, the Philly Special has joined the 49ers arsenal. Considering quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is recovering from that torn ACL last year, I wouldn’t count on seeing this play in-game.
Second strong day for Garoppolo
Gimmick plays aside, the 49ers offense got off to a great start in what was Jimmy G’s second strong showing early.
Garoppolo would finish 8-of-14, decent to be sure and even more so for a QB coming back from an ACL injury. But the biggest thing for Garoppolo is how he’s now stringing together good practices. In the beginning of camp, one good day followed a horrendous showing and so on. Last year, Garoppolo was inconsistent, so getting continued success is sure to help.
Another growing skill for Garoppolo is his deep ball. Deep accuracy had never been his strong suit, but as camp has rolled on, his deep ball has improved.
Wide receivers keep on playing well
Dante Pettis had been sleep-walking through training camp. He was there, and he would be average. But for a player whose talent convinced the front office to not trade for Odell Beckham Jr. (h/t Niners Nation), more was wanted.
Today, people got more.
Pettis made a string of tough catches and hauled a deep bomb over cornerback Richard Sherman (h/t Rob Lowder). Apart from Pettis, Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor, two receivers fighting for a spot on the roster, continue to have strong camps.
What looked like a weakness is growing into a strength, and the deficit of receivers has become a surplus.
Nick Mullens falters
Nick Mullens has commanded the backup battle since training camp began, outplaying even Garoppolo at times so far. Yet today was not a strong day for the former. He was indecisive and per Grant Cohn, had his worst day in camp.
Mullens still comfortably leads over fellow QB C.J. Beathard, but given the draft capital invested in Beathard relative to Mullens, one has to wonder if Mullens has far less room to mess up.
Defense finishes strong, without star defensive linemen
Even though Garoppolo started strong, the defense started to hold firm and shut down the 49ers attack. What makes that even more impressive is that Deforest Buckner and Dee Ford were both held out of practice, Buckner with a minor toe issue and Ford with knee tendinitis. Neither condition is serious, though.
Despite the talent missing, the 49ers defense continued to make waves.
The best D-lines in football are deep lines, because limited snaps leads to maximum explosiveness. Buckner played far too many snaps last year, and having a defense that can be competent without him will only help.
Verrett’s talent is obvious. If healthy, the man can lock down anyone in the league. If he can continue to heal and stay on the field, either he’ll push Witherspoon to greatness or lock down the spot himself.
Overall, a solid day for the 49ers. Some good signs all around, but plenty more to improve on. The 49ers will be practicing tomorrow, Aug. 3.
As always, stayed tuned to Niner Noise for training camp analysis and news.