49ers training camp: 5 early takeaways from 2020 practices

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers during training camp (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

With the 49ers kicking off their 2020 training camp sessions, Niner Noise looks at some of the key takeaways early on for Kyle Shanahan and Co.

It’s been a weird offseason for the San Francisco 49ers. And for the rest of the league, all things considered.

Usually, analysts and pundits would have minicamps and organized team activites to help preview the final tune-up practices ahead of the preseason. But the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated everything but camp and the regular season, and even those crucial practice sessions have been altered to allow head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad to ramp up for Week 1 as best as they can.

Team walk-throughs have already begun, and the next phase of a “ramp-up” period began on Aug. 12. Padded practices can begin on Aug. 17, so there’s a little leeway between those padless workouts and what could ultimately transpire into the better camp battles to watch later during the month.

For now, however, there are some key takeaways to monitor for San Francisco as the team gears up for more intense camp practices.

Here are five worth breaking down.

No. 5: 49ers defense should start hotter than the offense

It’s common for offenses to struggle early in training camp, particularly with the backdrop of Shanahan’s complex system.

The lack of minicamps and OTAs hindered offensive players’ abilities to jell with one another, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could have some difficulties early on connecting with some of his receiving targets.

Speaking of such, the Niners will be shorthanded at wide receiver after losing Deebo Samuel (foot) and Richie James (wrist) to injuries earlier this offseason. Veteran wideout Travis Benjamin also elected to opt out, meaning more pressure will be placed on the two rookies, Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings, to acclimate much quicker.

San Francisco’s offensive line is also revamped, too, with left tackle Trent Williams taking over for the now-retired Joe Staley and the right guard spot up for grabs. O-lines take time to mesh, too, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see some offensive issues over the first few days.