SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers returned to practice Thursday after taking Wednesday off. Here’s who stood out during the fifth practice of training camp.
DISCLAIMER: The 49ers practiced on a far field roughly three zip codes away from the media, but I brought my binoculars, so they felt only one zip code away.
1. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Practiced without a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee for the first time since he tore his ACL two years. Garoppolo seemed more confident in his leg and attempted more athletic throws -- rolling out, jumping and spinning and so on. And his passes seemed to have more zip than they did when he wore the brace -- an extremely good sign. Garoppolo wasn’t particularly efficient today -- he completed just five of 10 pass attempts -- but it’s just one practice and Garoppolo plays better in real games, anyway. The most important takeaways were his knee and his arm strength.
2. Left tackle Trent Williams.
Seemed somewhat rusty the first four days of training camp. No longer seems rusty whatsoever. Dominated Nick Bosa during one-on-one pass-rush drills. Stonewalled him the first three times they faced each other. The fourth time, Williams gave up a quarterback pressure, but not a sack. Williams made Bosa look like just another guy. I’ve never seen an offensive tackle move so well.
3. Left guard Laken Tomlinson.
Shut out rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw for the third-straight practice during one-on-one pass-rush drills. In their first matchup, Kinlaw used a club move for the first time in camp, but it was ineffective. During their second matchup, Kinlaw tried to bull rush right through Tomlinson and got nowhere. Tomlinson is one of the best guards in the league at blocking someone directly in front of him, because he’s strong and he plays with extremely low pad level. Kinlaw will need to make some serious improvements to beat Tomlinson.
4. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey.
Dominated Dee Ford during one on ones, as McGlinchey has done all offseason. McGlinchey has improved his pass protection so much since his rookie year, when he could hardly keep Cassius Marsh out of the backfield. Ford clearly is a much better player than Marsh. More on Ford below.
5. Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.
Got three targets in the red zone and caught two for touchdowns. Bourne remains head coach Kyle Shanahan’s favorite pass-catcher for which to call passes near the goal line -- Shanahan uses Bourne in the red zone like he’s Rob Gronkowski. More on Shanahan below.
6. Tight end Ross Dwelley.
Had his best day of camp so far. Caught three passes during team drills, including one from Garoppolo. Also caught a touchdown pass from Nick Mullens in the red zone. Dwelley is an effective red-zone weapon, just like Bourne. Good to see Shanahan get Dwelley more involved in the offense.
7. Defensive lineman Kentavius Street.
Bullied rookie guard Colton McKivitz both times they faced each other during one on ones, then tackled running back JaMycal Hasty for a four-yard loss during team drills. Street was strong and physically dominant -- none of the 49ers backup offensive linemen could block him. Looks like he will make the team.
8. Defensive lineman Darrion Daniels.
Pushed around former undrafted-free-agent guard Ross Reynolds. Daniels also is an undrafted free agent, but he’s a rookie. You wouldn’t notice watching him practice. He looks like a man.
9. Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt.
Knifed into the backfield during team drills to tackle Tevin Coleman for a four-yard loss on third and one. Tartt clearly was motivated by the 49ers signing strong safety Johnathan Cyprien on Wednesday. Just kidding. Sort of.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. Nose tackle D.J. Jones.
Left practice early with a shoulder injury and did not return. No word yet on how severe the injury is. Jones was having a phenomenal practice before he went down. He’s not in tip-top shape, but he still is nearly impossible to block one on one. He beat starting right guard Tom Compton twice, starting center Daniel Brunskill twice and knocked backup center Hroniss Grasu flat on his back. When healthy, Jones is a better pass rusher right now than Javon Kinlaw. The 49ers need Jones healthy for all 16 games this season.
2. Head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Allow me to quibble with his practice plan. He led red-zone drills, which is smart, but he called zero passes for All Pro tight end George Kittle during this portion of practice. Instead, Shanahan called three passes for Bourne, one for Dwelley, one for Trent Taylor, two for Brandon Aiyuk, one for Raheem Mostert, one for Jerick McKinnon and one for Jaron Freaking Brown, who’s been on the team for seven minutes, and dropped the pass.
The main reason Kittle has scored only 12 touchdowns in his entire career is because he doesn’t get the ball enough in the red zone. And he doesn’t get the ball enough in the red zone because Shanahan rarely calls plays for him down there, apparently even in practice.
3. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead.
Returned to practice, in the sense that he warmed up with the defensive linemen but did not participate in any of the competitive portions that contained collisions. Will he sit out all of training camp? Will he be ready Week 1? He’d better be. They’re paying him to play exactly how he played last year.
4. Defensive end Dee Ford.
Seems healthy, but can’t beat Mike McGlinchey during one on ones. The past four times they’ve faced each other (counting Tuesday’s practice), Ford has tried to beat McGlinchey around the edge with speed and failed and attempted zero counters. You’d expect to see more effort from the second-highest-paid player on the team.
5. Defensive end Dion Jordan.
Made zero plays -- his specialty -- but also started two fights with backup offensive tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith and didn’t win either one. Jordan seemed frustrated he couldn’t beat someone he probably had never heard of. So far, Jordan has done nothing on the football field to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, and he’s a bad fighter, too.
6. Offensive guard Colton McKivitz.
A good run blocker from what I saw in college, but an awful pass protector. He lacks strength and length, meaning he has short arms. So he can’t block anyone consistently during one on ones. Even Solomon Thomas can beat McKivitz, and Thomas doesn’t usually beat anyone. Maybe McKivitz eventually will improve the way McGlinchey did, or maybe he won’t. He has a ways to go.