The 49ers worked out four veteran safeties as Tony Jefferson will miss some time and Jaquiski Tartt isn’t anywhere close to returning from a toe injury, per Kyle Shanahan. More on those safeties next.
Jordan Elliott was on hand during Tuesday’s practice and felt that, for the first time, both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance played at a high level in the same practice. That’s the best-case scenario for both QBs: for both players to ball out.
Emmanuel Moseley had an interception and a key pass breakup on third and goal against Deebo Samuel during Tuesday’s practice.
Kyle Shanahan gave him a good one toward the end of Tuesday’s practice. The scenario: Eight seconds left before the end of the half, ball on the opponent’s 8-yard line and no timeouts.
The conclusion: The rookie needs work.
On his first attempt, Lance was flushed from the pocket, double-clutched and eventually threw the ball through the back of the end zone. Usually, eight seconds is enough to run two plays, but Shanahan thought Lance had waited too long on the throw and that time had expired. So he took Lance and the second-team offense off the field and called in Nate Sudfeld and the No. 3s to give them their shot.
“He works hard out there and has a little bit of a sweating issue,” Shanahan said Sunday. “And we need like a beach towel. The quarterbacks are working through that. And honestly, it happens with almost all centers.
“Maybe Mack is a little worse than others. [Atlanta Falcons QB] Matt Ryan used to make him change his pants like every period. It doesn’t stay dry too long. It’s part of football.”
On Tuesday, Garoppolo and Mack didn’t have any exchange issues. The center was seen with a towel tucked in his backside, as usual. The two players seem to be growing accustomed to each others habits.
I’m a little concerned about the 49ers relying on players with significant injury histories to play essential roles on their roster, but I do think they’ll improve in 2021. The only reason they’re not No. 1 for me is the quality of their division. The Seahawks and Rams were both playoff teams in 2020, and even the Cardinals finished 8-8 in third place. Each of San Francisco’s divisional rivals finished in the top 13 in DVOA.
Then again, the same could be said about the 49ers, who were 11th in DVOA even amid all their injuries. FPI believes in the Niners’ level of play and is extremely optimistic about their schedule clearing up. Last season, FPI estimated that they played the league’s second-toughest slate. This time around, though, they are expected to face the fourth-easiest run of opponents in football. If they get healthy and the schedule gets much easier, the Niners should be right in the mix atop the NFC West. I wouldn’t fault anyone for making them their top pick to go worst to first.
1. Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley.
Broke up a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo intended for Deebo Samuel that saved a touchdown on third and goal from the 1-yard line, then intercepted a pass from Garoppolo intended for Brandon Aiyuk in the end zone a few minutes later. Moseley missed the first eight days of camp because he was on the COVID-19 list, but has been outstanding since he returned.
2. Defensive tackles Kevin Givens and Javon Kinlaw.
From my perspective, they punished Laken Tomlinson for poking Kentavius Street in the eye a couple days ago during 1 on 1s. Throughout camp, Street, a backup, has dominated Tomlinson, a starter. And on Saturday, they faced each other in Levi’s Stadium in front of more than 20,000 fans, and Street beat him again. When they faced each other a second time, Tomlinson poked Street in the eye — a major no-no, even though it was an accident. Tomlinson could have blinded Street and ended his career.
“I just see a hungry player, motivated,” Verrett shared. “Definitely, he didn’t have the year that he wanted last year, and you could kind of tell this offseason, his mentality shifted to wanting to be the guy. Each and every day, he’s been going out there in practice, just running and looking like a whole different person.”
“I think it just comes from just the comradely that they’ve got in that receiving room with Brandon Aiyuk and Mohamed Sanu,” Verrett said. “I just think it’s a lot of motivation that Deebo has, and he’s been looking good.”
How Garoppolo, Lance and the 49ers handle it will go a long way in determining how the 2021 season plays out. As the veteran in the situation, Garoppolo’s role is especially important. If he can hit all the right notes (combined with much-improved injury luck), San Francisco has a chance to leap back into playoff and possibly Super Bowl contention.
Garoppolo appears to be doing that so far, something that has not surprised Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
“That’s part of the problem is how well he’s handling it,” Young said. “That makes it even more complex. Management has spoken. The locker room has its own opinions. Jimmy is going to create this to be a more complex situation.”