It was a packed house for Day 2 of the San Francisco 49ers' 2018 training camp. Rookie offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey got everyone’s juices flowing as he ran through the crowd hyping up everyone in attendance. The excitement didn’t stop there as there were big plays on both sides of the ball on Friday. Here were my observations from camp.
-- His play on the field has been solid, but what Sherman does on the sideline is most impressive. Every couple plays he rotates with Jimmie Ward at left CB, and when Sherman isn’t in, he’s closely observing fellow starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Anytime Witherspoon comes to the sideline, Sherman is the first person to greet him. He can be seen demonstrating technique and coaching up Witherspoon on what he’s seeing.
-- Sherman gave up his first catch of training camp when the receivers lined up in a stack to the right. Both receivers took an outside release, the slot receiver took the first out, which went vertical, and Sherman took the second receiver who happened to be second-year player Victor Bolden. Bolden then came back inside and Jimmy Garoppolo squeezed in a pass just out of reach of Sherman’s grasp.
-- Opposite Sherman, budding star corner Ahkello Witherspoon once again had tight coverage throughout the day. On one of the first plays of 7v7, Witherspoon was in off coverage lined up against Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin ran a quick five-yard stop and the ball was out and on him in a hurry. Witherspoon, who's turned his aggression up a notch in his second year, met Goodwin as the ball arrived knocking it loose.
-- Kyle Shanahan motioned down the outside receiver, forcing Witherspoon to once again play off coverage. K’Waun Williams took the point man, who ran a crossing route, and Goodwin ran a deep out that Witherspoon drove on quickly. Fortunately for the offense it was a bad throw by Garoppolo or that pass would have been going the other way for six.
-- So far in two practices the strides Witherspoon has made from year one to year two have been positive. When the pads are on for practice No. 3, will he continue this aggressive play?
Other notable defensive players:
-- DeForest Buckner was disruptive most of the day.
-- Arik Armstead sniffed out a play action pass forcing Garoppolo to get the ball out of his hands quicker than he wanted to before Armstead could get his hands on him.
-- Antone Exum Jr. intercepted a pass intended for Pettis across the middle. Exum tipped the pass to himself before corralling it in and taking it the other way.
-- Beathard for the second day in a row threw an interception. But on a positive note, he had the play of the day for the second practice in a row as well. This time in the 11v11 team period, Beathard found Max McCaffrey streaking down the right sideline for a big gain. If Beathard had a stronger arm he would’ve hit McCaffrey in stride for a big catch and run. But at this point we will settle for 40 yards.
-- Later that drive, Beathard delivered a beautiful back-shoulder throw to Kendrick Bourne for around 20 yards. Ward was there on the coverage but a nice throw combined with a toe-tapping catch made it impossible for Ward to make a play.
-- Garoppolo was much more efficient today. He still hasn’t attempted the long ball but eats up the 12-20 yard throws. At the start of team, the quarterback found Goodwin and Aaron Burbridge on consecutive plays. Both completions were in the 15-20 yard range and were very precise passes.
-- On one specific play I felt Garoppolo had a chance to throw the ball downfield when somehow Chancellor James matched up on Marquise Goodwin, who was streaking down the left side of the field. The ultra-speedy Goodwin had a step on James. That was the perfect time for Jimmy G to let it rip and allow Goodwin to run underneath a deep throw. Instead, Garoppolo checked it down for a short gain.
Other notable offensive players:
-- If I were going to a 49ers practice for the first time today and didn’t know who anyone was, I'd think Joe Williams and Matt Breida were the two best running backs backs, in that order. Williams, the 2017 fourth-round draft pick out of Utah, displayed great vision, decisiveness and explosiveness on a couple plays, ripping off what looked like would be big runs. But there were no pads, so I won’t put too much stock into that.
-- Victor Bolden Jr. had a big day catching several passes. There was one where he lined up on the right side and ran a slant; the QB hit him in stride and Bolden went untouched for what would’ve been a full-length field touchdown. Defensive back Chancellor James had no chance at catching him.
-- Steven Dunbar, who is listed at 6-foot-3 but is no taller than 6-foot-1, had his coming out party. He proved to be very reliable throughout the day, catching four passes and looking swift after the catch.
-- Richie James picked up where he left off yesterday, catching a few passes when thrown his way. As of now the seventh-rounder has been more productive with his opportunities than fellow draft pick Dante Pettis.
-- Pettis has looked like the smooth route runner draft experts said he is, but failed to come up with a catch Friday, including one pass that went through his hands and another that was intended for him but intercepted. Pettis has also been hit-and-miss when it comes to getting off of press; but did have a physical play blocking Tarvarius Moore in the run/play action period.
-- Pierre Garçon has been completely non-existent with zero catches over the first two days of camp.
Media courtesy AP Images, USA Today Sports Images, San Francisco 49ers