The 49ers just had their first day of rookie mini-camp. Here's who stood out.
Keep in mind, there were only 22 players at the practice, and zero defensive linemen. So the 49ers did one-on-one drills and seven-on-sevens, but not full-team drills.
1. Quarterback Trey Lance. Completed 20 of 24 passes during seven-on-seven drills, and looked sharp and prepared. You wouldn't have guessed he's a 21-year old who has played just one football game since 2019. He looked like a veteran, and he rarely forced a pass. He routinely reached the second and third receivers in his progression, and repeatedly checked the ball down. He plays like a game manager in pocket, in the sense that he takes what the defense gives him. His average depth of target today probably was 4 yards down the field. He attempted zero deep throws during seven-on-sevens. It's clear the 49ers wanted him to have a good first practice in front of the media, and he did.
Check out the video I shot of Lance at practice.
2. Running back Elijah Mitchell.
He was Lance's primary check down target during seven-on-sevens. But during one on ones, Mitchell caught a deep pass after beating rookie UDFA Justin Hilliard with a wheel route. Mitchell is as fast as advertised.
3. Running back Trey Sermon.
He ran an option route during one-on-ones that was so good, it made Hilliard fall down, then Sermon finished off the play with a diving catch (a trainer was the quarterback). Sermon is surprisingly quick, and has terrific hand-eye coordination.
4. Cornerback Deommodore Lenoir
Played right cornerback during seven-on-sevens, and intercepted a pass intended for UDFA Austin Watkins during one-on-ones.
5. Cornerback Ambry Thomas.
Played left cornerback during seven-on-sevens and locked down every receiver he faced. Lance looked Thomas' way a couple times, but always decided to throw elsewhere.
6. Safety Blake Countess.
The 27-year-old veteran safety attended today's practice as a tryout player, and intercepted a pass intended for UDFA tight end Josh Pederson during one-on-ones.
7. Wide receiver Marqise Lee.
The 29-year-old veteran wide receiver caught a pass from Lance over the middle during seven-on-sevens that almost was intercepted. Lance threw the ball into a crowd and Lee bailed him out with a beautiful contested catch.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. Head coach Kyle Shanahan.
It seemed like he Xeroxed his rookie mini-camp installation from the previous four years. Not once did he make Lance throw the ball while rolling out. Not during warmups. Not ever. Instead, Shanahan had Lance running the Jimmy Garoppolo offense, which features lots of short, quick passes and zero pocket movement. Every day Lance practices the Garoppolo offense is a wasted day. He needs to practice the unique things only he can do. Come on, Kyle. Show us you actually want to coach Lance and that you don't secretly wish you had Mac Jones.
2. Safety Talanoa Hufanga.
Got juked out of his jock strap (metaphorically speaking) by UDFA tight end Josh Pederson during one-on-ones. Hufanga might be a terrific hitter, a playmaker and a special teams ace, but he struggles changing directions in man-to-man coverage.
3. Wide receiver Austin Watkins.
Caught a pass during seven-on-sevens, but also fell down during a rep of one-on-ones. Falling down in practice is never good. A professional football player should be able to stay on his feet.