The San Francisco 49ers held their first joint practice today with the Denver Broncos and all-in-all it was a successful time. Both teams came out being able to evaluate players against the other team, gave themselves things to work on while preparing for their first home preseason game on Saturday and there were no major injuries. GM John Lynch did say after practice that LB Donavin Newsom would be placed on IR after his concussion last week.
A few thoughts on what I saw at the practice:
1. The Offensive Line is a Major Work In Progress
During one-on-one drills with Denver's defensive line, it was very apparent that it will be a long year for this group. OG Zane Beadles and OT Garry Gilliam both got put on their backs a few times during these drills and really made me question whether either should be competing for starting spots.
OT Darrell. Williams Jr -- a rookie -- fared much better, getting beat only a couple times by LB Von Miller.RT Trent Brown did very well. He is slowly getting more consistent with keeping his body low and using his momentum, footwork and hands to have his way with whoever tries to challenge across from him. I can’t wait to see how Brown does on Saturday.
The offensive line as a whole did much better during team drills. They are not great by any means right now, but they were able to move the ball. They were able to set up some lanes that allowed RBs Carlos Hyde, Joe Williams, and Matt Breida to all have some nice runs. Pass protection wasn’t bad as well, but a lot of that had to do with play action plays that the defense didn’t diagnose correctly. That is going to be a key part of how they will move the ball this year.
2. The Skill Position Players are a Biog Upgrade
The free-agent acquisitions of receivers Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin are already paying dividends. Goodwin left starting CB Aqib Talib spun around on at least one play and while he may have been brought in as just a speed guy, he really seems to be much more than that and may have been a free-agent steal.
Garcon had a few great catches as well and while he may not be a WR1, he works well enough to be WR1 this year. Offensive Weapon (OW) Kyle Juszczyk is shaping up to be a secret weapon rather than a traditional matchup nightmare for linebackers and safeties. He may not rack up a lot of yards after catch but he will likely be a favorite of QB Brian Hoyer in the red zone and short-yardage situations.
WR Trent Taylor is also making a great case for himself, having a couple more great catches as well as some nice kick returns. The offense is shaping up very nicely right now.
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