SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The big news from the first day of 49ers’ minicamp was the attendance.
Deebo Samuel arrived on Monday for his physical and two minutes after Tuesday’s practice began he emerged from the weight room and sprinted a few times on a side field. Then he retreated back into the weight room for the remainder of the hour-long session. Samuel has not spoken publicly about his April trade request and it is still not clear whether that request has been withdrawn and that contract negotiations are progressing.
But teammates noted the important thing was that Samuel was back in the building.
“He’s grabbing the situation by the horns now and showing how mature he is by showing up,” said tackle Trent Williams. “And I think that’s going a long way.”
This is the extent of Deebo Samuel’s on-field action today. He spent most of the practice in the weight room. pic.twitter.com/PgR9flM3G7
– Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) June 7, 2022
Williams and defensive end Nick Bosa were also on hand after skipping the voluntary portions of the 49ers ’offseason program. Both were in uniform and took part in individual drills. Bosa looked quick. He arrived for training camp in 2021 faster and slimmer than he’d been before and he might have trimmed slightly more off his frame this season as well. Bosa spent most of his offseason training in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., With his brother, Joey.
“Nick always takes care of himself as good as any athlete I’ve ever been around,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He had a good Florida tan seeing him yesterday. His quads are still huge and he’s ready to play football whenever it’s time to go. “
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and defensive end Dee Ford (back) were the only absentees and both were excused from the camp. Shanahan reiterated that Ford is no longer in the team’s plans and said that the veteran pass rusher would arrive shortly for a physical that presumably will be followed by his release or retirement. Rookie Drake Jackson is expected to fill Ford’s role this season. Jackson was not on hand for last week’s open OTA practice, but he took part in Tuesday’s session.
The others who did not practice are dealing with injuries or were excused due to family matters. Injuries to three of the players – Azeez Al-Shaair, Mike McGlinchey and Jason Verrett – stem from the 2021 season and the rest are considered minor.
Not practicing: Al-Shaair, DL Arik Armstead, OL Daniel Brunskill, RB Tyrion Davis-Price, LB Jeremiah Gemmel, WR Danny Gray, LB Dre Greenlaw, TE George Kittle, McGlinchey, RB Elijah Mitchell, Verrett, CB Charvarius Ward, LB Fred Warner , TE Charlie Woerner
Lance looks sharp
Quarterback Trey Lance had the sharpest practice of the three sessions that have been open to reporters. His highlights included a seven-on-seven sequence in the red zone in which he connected on three of four attempts, each of the completions resulting in touchdowns.
The exception came when he hit Brandon Aiyuk in the chest in the right side of the end zone. The receiver couldn’t control the ball and cornerback Ka’dar Hollman ended up wrestling it away for an interception. No matter. Lance returned to Aiyuk on his next pass, a short touchdown in front of rookie nickel cornerback Samuel Womack.
Aiyuk was also on the receiving end of the longest throw of the day – from backup Nate Sudfeld, who also had a strong outing. During an 11-on-11 situation, Sudfeld saw Aiyuk streaking down the right side of the field against the cornerback Deommodore Lenoir, then lofted a perfectly thrown, 35-yard pass outside the numbers where only Aiyuk could grab it. Sudfeld also looked good in the seven-on-seven session and threw short touchdowns to Ray-Ray McCloud, Troy Fumagalli, Jauan Jennings and Trey Sermon.
Lance’s best – and certainly most aggressive – throw was down the center of the field in 11-on-11 drills. Tight end Tanner Hudson was covered by inside linebacker Curtis Robinson and Lance fired his pass before the linebacker could turn his head. Hudson made a terrific, one-handed snag on the play just as safety Jimmie Ward was arriving in support.
“I think it’s just knowing the offense and knowing where guys are going to be and having spent all of last year with Tanner, for example,” Lance said when asked about the throw. “Last year on scout team, I got to throw to Tanner a ton, so you kind of get used to throwing to guys, get used to throwing to spots, how guys run routes against different coverages, different looks.”
It should be noted that Bosa didn’t take part in any of the 11-on-11 scenarios and that the first-team defense was also missing its three top linebackers – Warner, Greenlaw and Al-Shaair – as well as top cornerback Charvarius Ward, who had a day off.
Said Shanahan of Ward, the team’s top free-agent acquisition: “He’s done some real good work. He’s been awesome. We’re just taking it easy with him right now. “
Odds & ends
• Shanahan said he never thought that Samuel’s issues with the team ever became irreparable. He said he’s spoken to the receiver in recent months and that their relationship has always been solid.
“When I think of a relationship with someone, that has to do with him and me, not statements, not Instagram, not people repeating stuff,” he said. “It has to do with the words that come out of my mouth to a man and him back to me and nothing else. And that’s never been a problem with me and him. “
• When Samuel requested his trade, it triggered speculation for why he didn’t want to be with the 49ers, including that he didn’t like living in California and that he didn’t have a good relationship with Lance, the team’s new quarterback .
Since then he’s spent a lot of time in the state – either Los Angeles or the Bay Area – and he’s been in regular communication with the Lance as well.
“I talk to Deebo a tone, even when he’s not here,” Lance said. “So it’s obviously good to have him back – just his vibe on the field, his energy. … Him, Trent and Bosa, when they’re in the building, it’s a little bit different. ”
• Shanahan said negotiations have not fled with Bosa’s agents on a new contract but that a long-term deal for the defensive end remains the goal. Bosa’s rookie deal runs through the 2023 season.
“We haven’t been doing that yet with Nick,” he said. “(It’s) just that’s how both sides are going at it now, and I’m not too concerned with it. I fully expect Nick Bosa to be here for a very long time. ”
Nick Bosa arrives, jumps right into practice. (Rookie Drake Jackson also featured in this clip) pic.twitter.com/9OKS8jIknr
– Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) June 7, 2022
• Bosa, of course, is the headliner at defensive end, but the 49ers are far deeper at that spot than they’ve been in years. For example, Samson Ebukam beat left tackle Justin Skule at least twice during the 11-on-11 drills Tuesday and newcomer Kemoko Turay also has looked good. Jackson, Kerry Hyder Jr., Jordan Willis, Charles Omenihu and Alex Barrett round out the group.
• Aiyuk and Hudson may have had the two longest catches of the practice, but the most prolific receiver was Jennings, especially during the red-zone drill when he caught three touchdowns. Jennings came on strong in the second half of 2021, especially in San Francisco’s must-win game in Week 18 against the Rams when he finished with 94 yards and two touchdowns.
Said Shanahan of Jennings and Aiyuk: “They’ve had as good an offseason as they’ve had since they’ve been in the league. And they’re as good as they’ve been right now. Both of them. ”
• The 49ers will have a new starting center this season after veteran Alex Mack announced his retirement last week. His replacement so far has been someone very familiar to Lance. Jake Brendel’s locker is three down from the quarterback’s and Brendel served as Lance’s center on the practice squad last season. Which means he’s taken significantly more snaps from Brendel than he did Mack.
“We’re together – one of the first two guys every morning,” Lance said. “And I know he’s one of the last guys to leave. So he works super hard and his athletic ability is one thing I think that stands out about him. ”
• Speaking of tandems, Williams will have a new offensive linemate this season after a long-time 49ers left guard Laken Tomlinson signed with the Jets in March. The frontrunner for the position is second-year player Aaron Banks, who said he’s revamped his physique after he was seldom used as a rookie last season.
“He transformed himself in a few months,” Williams said. “And to me that’s indicative of a lot – not just a good workout regimen but mental toughness for a guy to go in and change his whole body composition in 90 days.”
“Banks’ athleticism has always jumped off the board being the size of the man he is,” he continued. “But now shedding 20 pounds, he definitely looks light on his feet. His footwork looks 10 times better. … Everything is in place now. And I think he’s ready to take that big jump from Year 1 to Year 2. “
• Williams, who dealt with elbow and ankle injuries at the end of the 2021 season, said he didn’t fully recover until late April. He played in the NFC Championship Game with a high ankle sprain and on Tuesday said he shouldn’t have.
“I really had no business (being) out there,” he said. “I probably shouldn’t have pushed it that far. I think Colton (McKivitz) would’ve done a better job on two healthy ankles than I would have on one. Hindsight is 20/20, of course. It was hard for me to tell my teammates (I couldn’t play) at the time. “
(Photo of Deebo Samuel: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)