SANTA CLARA -- Here’s who stood out at the ninth practice of 49ers training camp. And I had to use my binoculars to see the action, so keep that in mind.
1. Tight End Jordan Reed.
Practiced for the first time since he signed with the 49ers. Caught a 15-yard pass from C.J. Beathard while playing with the second-stringers in team drills. And beat Jaquiski Tartt both times they faced each other during one-on-one drills. First, Reed beat Tartt with a quick out route. Next, Tartt tried to jam Reed at the line, but whiffed and gave up a long catch. I can see why Kyle Shanahan likes Reed -- he’s a phenomenal route runner, dare I say an even better route runner than George Kittle. Seems the 49ers are preparing Reed for a big role in the offense.
2. Strong Safety Jaquiski Tartt.
Struggled against Reed during one on ones, but broke up a pass intended for Kittle during the same drill. And during full-team scrimmages, Tartt broke up two passes from Jimmy Garoppolo in the red zone. The second pass looked like Garoppolo was trying to throw to Tartt -- he was the only person in the area. But he dropped the ball. So he did 10 push ups to punish himself. He has dropped three interceptions in camp, but he leads all 49ers with five pass breakups during team drills. He’s in a contract year and having an excellent camp.
3. Free Safety Tarvarius Moore.
Broke up a Garoppolo pass intended for Jordan Reed in the end zone, then had terrific coverage on an incomplete Garoppolo pass intended for Charlie Woerner in the end zone. Moore and Tartt have both played extremely well in man-to-man coverage in camp. Moore seems like he could be a quality nickelback.
4. Wide Receiver J.J. Nelson.
Caught four passes during team drills, including two from Garoppolo while playing with the starters. First, Nelson beat Richard Sherman for 10 yards with an out route. Then Nelson beat Ahkello Witherspoon for 10 yards with a slant. The 49ers need someone to fill in for Brandon Aiyuk while he’s out with a pulled hamstring, and it seems they trust Nelson more than Dante Pettis at this point. Smart choice.
5. Wide Receiver Jauan Jennings.
Caught a touchdown pass from Garoppolo during a red-zone drill. It was the first pass Jennings caught from Garoppolo in camp. Jennings might become a red-zone weapon as a rookie -- he was a red-zone weapon today. And opponents won’t expect him to get the ball. He’s like a young Kendrick Bourne, not that Bourne is old.
8. Defensive Tackle D.J. Jones.
Returned from a concussion, bullied right guard Tom Compton during one on ones and and intercepted a tipped pass from Nick Mullens during team drills. Doesn’t seem like Jones missed a beat. Still a terrific player.
9. Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley.
Tipped an underthrown deep pass from C.J. Beathard to safety Johnathan Cyprien, who picked it off. Moseley was covering Pettis, who was running a go route and was open initially. But Moseley recovered and broke up the pass. He almost never gives up big plays.
10. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.
Played with the starters and broke up his first pass thrown by Garoppolo in camp. The pass was intended for Bourne, who was running a dig route over the middle. Witherspoon slowly seems to be regaining the confidence he had in camp last year. Which is good news for the 49ers, because Jason Verrrett doesn’t seem to be improving. More in him later.
11. Middle Linebacker Fred Warner.
The 49ers tried to get George Kittle the ball in the end zone for a change, and Warner broke up the pass. He has now broken up four of Garoppolo’s passes in camp -- second most on the defense. He looks as good as Kittle. Better in the red zone.
12. Running Back Raheem Mostert.
Received a courtesy veteran’s day off from the coaching staff. Meaning they recognize he’s integral to the success of the team and most likely has earned a starting spot with a strong training camp following a phenomenal 2019 season. With all the injuries the 49ers have suffered recently, they can’t afford to lose their starting running back, too. Smart to be cautious with him.
13. Running Back Jeff Wilson Jr.
Caught a touchdown pass from Garoppolo in the red zone. Still a fantastic receiver for a running back -- as good as McKinnon, just not as fast.
14. Running Back JaMycal Hasty
Beat starting strong-side linebacker Dre Greenlaw deep during one on ones with a wheel route. Hasty is fast, but also quick and strong. I would have loved to watch him play in preseason this year if it still existed. I’m guessing Hasty will start the season on the practice squad, but make the 53-man roster eventually.
15. Fullback Josh Hokit
Caught a touchdown pass from Garoppolo in the red zone. Seems like the 49ers are grooming him to be a potential replacement for Kyle Juszczcyk if they need one down the line.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Completed 13 of 21 pass attempts, threw one ball directly to Jaquiski Tartt which Tartt dropped, and struggled in the red zone. The coaching staff actually gave Garoppolo extra reps with backups in this drill so he would improve. He clearly misses Aiyuk. Those two had chemistry all over the field.
2. Quarterback Nick Mullens.
Completed 8 of 9 pass attempts, but threw an interception. He threw the ball to Dante Pettis in traffic -- never a good idea -- and Pettis tipped the ball to defensive tackle D.J. Jones. Mullens has completed 74.3 percent of his passes in camp, but he has thrown five picks in nine practices. Something to keep an eye on.
3. Quarterback C.J. Beathard.
Threw a beautiful deep pass to Kittle, but completed just 3 of 6 passes and threw an interception because he underthrew a deep pass to Pettis, who was open initially. Despite the pick, Beathard mostly has played well in camp. All three quarterbacks have, today notwithstanding.
4. Cornerback Jason Verrett.
Gave up a touchdown catch to Jauan Jennings in the red zone. Still has not broken up one of Garoppolo’s passes in team drills. Verrett plays off and seems content to make the tackle after giving up the catch. I still don’t see what the coaching staff wants to see in him.
5. Guard Tom Compton.
Shouldn’t make the team, but probably will because he used to play for Washington and Shanahan loves his former players. Compton makes Mike Person look like Larry Allen. Compton better not start Week 1 or ever for the 49ers. Rookie Colton McKivitz is better than him right now.
6. Defensive End Solomon Thomas.
Yes, defensive end. The 49ers have moved him outside once again because they have so many injuries to their edge rushers. Just when Thomas was improving as a defensive tackle, they move him outside again. Sorry, Solly.
7. Defensive End Nick Bosa.
Out for the rest of training camp with a muscle strain in his leg. The 49ers said he’s week to week. Bosa missed the past three-and-a-half practices with this injury. The 49ers initially said he wasn’t injured and simply was taking a “maintenance” day, whatever that means. But when Bosa’s leg soreness got worse, he had an M.R.I., and the 49ers learned he indeed is injured. Sounds like he should play Week 1 against the Cardinals, but we’ll see.
8. Defensive End Dee Ford.
Missed practice with calf tightness. Shanahan said Ford is day to day, meaning the injury isn’t serious. But calf injuries can become serious quickly. The 49ers are smart to be careful with Ford. But even when they’re careful, he still gets hurt. Go figure.
9. Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
Has a mild hamstring strain and is done for training camp. The 49ers seem confident he’ll be healthy and ready to play for the season opener. Would be foolish to rush him back before the hamstring is completely healed, but I trust Shanahan knows what he’s doing. Mostly.