SANTA CLARA — Here’s who stood out on Day 4 of 49ers training camp. Keep in mind, the 49ers will have a day off tomorrow and then their first padded practice on Monday, and that’s when the competition will be the best. When players don’t wear pads, the defense always has the advantage, because the offense can’t maintain its blocks or be physical in pass protection.
1. Quarterback Trey Lance.
Completed 8 of 15 pass attempts with two drops and one interception that went right to Fred Warner — you would have thought Jimmy Garoppolo was playing quarterback on that play. Lance now has thrown an interception in three consecutive practices, which is not good. Today, he had Ray-Ray McCloud wide open running an in route 15 yards downfield and simply needed to loft the pass over Warner’s head. Instead, Lance threw the ball on a low line directly to the linebacker. That was Lance’s worst throw by far. The rest of his practice was excellent. He completed three perfect long passes to Brandon Aiyuk and one to George Kittle (more on them below). Lance also made good decisions, particularly when he pulled the ball down and scrambled instead of forcing a deep pass to a double-covered Aiyuk. So despite the interception, this was Lance’s best practice of camp so far, and he still hasn’t gotten to play with Deebo Samuel. That should change when the 49ers return to camp on Monday, assuming the 49ers extend Samuel’s contract by then.
2. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
The Aiyuk-Lance connection finally came together today. It was broken the first three days of camp, when Lance targeted Aiyuk 10 times but completed only 3 passes. Today, Aiyuk caught three consecutive passes from Lance — a 30-yarder over Charvarius Ward near the sideline, a 20-yarder over the middle after Lance ran out of the pocket and a 20-yarder over the middle after running a post route. Aiyuk was the best offensive skill player on the field today.
3. Tight end George Kittle.
Dropped his first target from Lance, but redeemed himself by outrunning safety Tarvarius Moore up the left sideline and making a jumping, spinning 30-yard catch and landing on his back.
4. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey.
Practiced for the first time since his quad surgery and played extensively with the first team offense. During Kittle’s 30-yard catch, McGlinchey made a key block on Nick Bosa which gave Lance just enough time to throw the ball.
5. The offensive line.
McGlinchey and Trent Williams both practiced for the first time this offseason and they made a huge difference. Also Daniel Brunskill took most of the reps at center and seemed much better than Jake Brendel. Even Aaron Banks is holding his own at left guard. The weakest link currently is rookie right guard Spencer Burford. We’ll see if he holds onto the job.
6. Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.
Practiced for the first time this offseason and looked healthy and explosive. Started at defensive tackle in place of Arik Armstead, who has a sprained MCL.
7. Cornerback Charvarius Ward.
Intercepted a deep pass up the left sideline intended for McCloud that was thrown by Nate Sudfeld (more on him below). A few plays later, Ward tipped a pass from Sudfeld that got intercepted by Tarvarius Moore. Throwing at Ward is a bad idea.
8. Free safety Tarvarius Moore.
Intercepted two passes — the one tipped by Ward, and another while playing in the deep middle of the field. Sudfeld threw deep to Danny Gray (more on him below), but he couldn’t outrun Deommodore Lenoir. Moore swooped in and made the interception. He looks healthy after missing last season with a torn Achilles.
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9. Defensive tackle Kevin Givens.
Beat starting right guard Spencer Burford with an inside pass-rush move to sack Lance. Givens is one of the 49ers’ better interior pass rushers.
10. Tight end Jordan Matthews.
Beat rookie safety Leon O’Neal Jr. with a deep crossing route to make a 20-yard catch. Every day it seems Matthews makes a long catch. He and Kittle have been the 49ers’ most productive tight ends in camp.
11. Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche.
Repeatedly beat rookie left guard Jason Poe (more on him below). Nkemdiche often beat him instantly. Don’t be surprised if Nkemdiche makes this team even though he signed just last week.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. Wide receiver Danny Gray.
Hasn’t been able to get open deep in camp with the exception of one play on Day 2 against Ka’Dar Hollman who won’t make the team. Today, Gray caught one pass — it hit him in the chest and bounced into his hands, meaning he double caught it. He also ran an end around and gained no yards.
2. Guard Jason Poe.
Can’t block, which is a problem for an offensive lineman. Also can’t seem to time the snap count as he committed a false start today. You can tell he’s a defensive lineman who’s transitioning to a new position.
3. Cornerback Ambry Thomas.
Spun the wrong way when covering a corner route by Brandon Aiyuk and gave up a 20-yard catch. Thomas seems to give up at least one 20-yard catch per day.
4. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld.
Threw three interceptions in one practice, which is the most a 49ers quarterback has thrown in one day since Jimmy Garoppolo threw five consecutive picks in 2019. Sorry, I just wanted to mention that.
5. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst.
Tore his bicep yesterday in practice and will miss the entire season.
6. Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway.
Day to day with a quad injury. The 49ers currently are extremely thin at defensive tackle.