SANTA CLARA -- Here’s who stood out during the fourth practice of 49ers training camp. Today, the 49ers practiced 20 yards away from the media, as opposed to Monday when they practiced a mile and a half away from us. So these players really stood out, in the sense that I could see them.
1. Wide receiver Dante Pettis.
The best wide receiver on the field. Yes, I really wrote that. Pettis has never played this well in a practice in his professional career. He caught a team-high five passes during team drills, including two from Jimmy Garoppolo, who seems to have developed trust in Pettis. Good sign. Pettis also caught three passes over the middle. I thought I was hallucinating. I’ve never seen him attack the ball while running over the middle. Seems like he’s competing to start this season. Good for him.
2. Wide receiver Trent Taylor.
The second-best wide receiver on the field on Tuesday, and has been the most consistent receiver on the offense regardless of position through the first-four days of training camp. Taylor has picked up right where he left off last training camp before he broke his foot when he was Garoppolo’s favorite target. Taylor’s foot seems fine now. Let’s see if he can make it through training camp without getting injured.
3. Wide receiver Jauan Jennings.
Made a difficult, leaping catch between Jamar Taylor and Jimmie Ward for a 15-yard catch on third and 10. Nick Mullens threw the pass even though Jennings essentially was double covered. Mullens clearly trusts Jennings, and for good reason.
4. Tight end Ross Dwelley.
Beat backup strong safety Marcell Harris during one-on-one drills. Dwelley ran an in route, slipped to the grass, but popped back up and made the catch before Harris could recover. Dwelley is slick. And during team drills, he caught a 25-yard pass from Mullens while running a post route. The 49ers secret weapon had a good day.
5. Tight end Chase Harrell.
An extremely good athlete. Yesterday I wrote that he’s uncoordinated and can’t catch, but today he hung onto the ball. And during one on ones, he beat starting weakside linebacker Kwon Alexander with an out route. Just smoked one of the highest-paid defensive players on the 49ers. Good sign for the undrafted rookie.
6. Running back Raheem Mostert.
Clearly has improved his route running since last season. He’s shiftier and can run a greater variety of routes, such as choice routes and option routes over the middle. In the past, he mostly ran swing routes in the flat and wheel routes up the sideline. Good to see a veteran running back add to his game late in his career.
7. Running back Tevin Coleman.
Ran 50 yards untouched for a touchdown against the second-team defense. Coleman loves cutting back behind the center, and the 49ers interior run defense has been shaky through four days of training camp. So Coleman has played well.
8. Running back Jeff Wilson Jr.
Made a one-handed catch during one on ones. Wilson is an excellent receiver for a running back, which is why he almost certainly will make some team’s 53-man roster this season if the 49ers waive him after training camp. I doubt they’ll waive him.
9. Running back Salvon Ahmed.
Extremely fast. Burned rookie linebacker Jonas Griffitth with a wheel route up the sideline during one on ones. Ahmed was so fast, the quarterback underthrew the deep ball. Ahmed had to stop, adjust and leap for the pass. He caught it, landed flat on his back and held on. Hell of a catch.
10. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
Beat Pro Bowl middle linebacker Fred Warner with a wheel route during one on ones. Juszczyk is an underrated receiver who deserves more targets. He almost always makes big plays.
11. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey.
Beat defensive end Dee Ford during one-on-one pass-rush drills. Ford tried to rush around the edge with speed, and McGlinchey pushed him out of the pocket. McGlinchey seems more fluid in pass protection than the past couple years when he was choppy and robotic.
12. Defensive end Nick Bosa.
Didn’t beat left tackle Trent Williams the one time they faced each other during one on ones, but Bosa beat him a half hour later for a sack during team drills. Then for good measure, Bosa recorded a second sack on the final play of practice when he looped to the inside and knifed past Juszczyk. Bosa is in better shape than last season, if that’s even possible.
13. Nosa tackle D.J. Jones.
Still slightly overweight and out of shape, but he’s improving. And he’s still extremely difficult to block. Right guard Daniel Brunskill could not block Jones during one on ones. Good sign for the 49ers defense. Jones is one of the most underrated players on the team when healthy.
14. Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt.
Broke up a pass intended for rookie tight end Chase Harrell during one on ones. Harrell is good, but not good enough to beat Tartt just yet. The only backup tight end on the 49ers who has beaten Tartt is Dwelley.
15. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.
Struggled against Pettis during one-on-ones, but got to play with the first-string defense in team drills for the first time in training camp and played well. Gave up no catches during that portion of practice. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh says there’s an open competition for the No. 2 cornerback job between Witherspoon, Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett. Seems obvious the coaches want Witherspoon to win the job. Today was a step in the right direction for him.
16. Nickelback Jamar Taylor.
Broke up a Jimmy-Garoppolo pass intended for George Kittle during team drills. Kittle ran a slant route, Taylor read it all the way, jumped in front of Kittle and easily swatted the ball to the ground. Great play, especially for a backup nickelback against an All Pro tight end.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. Center Ben Garland.
Left practice with an injured ankle. Watched the final 45 minutes from the sideline. The 49ers now have lost three centers -- Garland, Weston Richburg who could start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List, and Spencer Long who retired. Daniel Brunskill had to move to center for the final 45 minutes of practice. Look for the 49ers to sign a center soon.
2. Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.
Overwhelmed rookie guard Colton McKivitz with power during one on ones, but couldn’t move Laken Tomlinson with the same bull rush. Kinlaw is unpolished and he has one move -- a bullrush. It’s clear he never has encountered an offensive lineman he couldn’t overpower. Now, Kinlaw knows he can’t simply push around NFL offensive linemen. He’s a project with lots of potential, but it might take him a while to become a productive pass rusher, just as it took Arik Armstead time to blossom. They’re similar players.
3. Free safety Jimmie Ward.
During one on ones, he gave up a deep catch to Trent Taylor -- not a speed receiver. Ward is getting reps at nickelback because the starter, K’Waun Williams, is out with a sore calf. So Ward is now the backup nickel after Jamar Taylor. And Ward has struggled at nickel. He covers well, but he doesn’t turn his head to find the ball, so he gives up big plays to receivers who don’t normally make big plays. The Niners might need to find another backup nickel.
4. Tight end Charlie Woerner.
Struggles to beat man to man coverage. Could not beat backup free safety Tarvarius Moore during one on ones. Woerner’s routes have no finesse or deception -- he telegraphs where he’s going. He’s clearly strong and an excellent blocker, but he’s not an offensive lineman. He’s a tight end. So he has to get open, too. We’ll see if he improves this part of his game.
5. Tight end Jordan Reed.
Did not warm up with the 49ers or workout on a side field or even watch practice from the sideline. He was just M.I.A. I assume the 49ers want him to rehab away from the media, considering Jalen Hurd tore his ACL right in front of us this weekend while rehabbing. So I assume Reed will join practice at some point this week, but the clock is ticking.