15 Observations from 49ers Opening OTA Session

Chip Kelly's first OTA session on Tuesday was as advertised.

Fast.

Plays were being executed generally less than 15 seconds apart. Offensive and defensive players were flying around the field in a very upbeat, pad-less workout.

Take a look at our 15 observations from the day.

  1. Jimmie Ward lined up at right cornerback with the first-team defense. In San Francisco's nickel defense, Ward manned his usual slot position and Dontae Johnson joined Tramaine Brock as perimeter defenders. Ward recorded an interception on a tipped pass, too.
  1. Blaine Gabbert, Thad Lewis and rookie Jeff Driskel led the first, second and third-team offenses, respectively. All three made several quick-timing throws throughout the afternoon.
  1. Veteran offensive lineman Erik Pears lined up at right tackle. He was joined on the first-team line by right guard Brandon Thomas, center Daniel Kilgore, left guard Zane Beadles and left tackle Joe Staley. The second-team offensive line from right left featured Trent Brown, Andrew Tiller, Marcus Martin, Ian Silberman and Colin Kelly.
  1. Rookie guard Joshua Garnett is unable to participate in offseason practices until Stanford wraps up school. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and rookie cornerback Will Redmond rehabbed their respective injuries and did not participate in on-field drills. Safety LJ McCray saw action during individual drills.
  1. Wide receiver Eric Rogers made several eye-catching receptions. The 6-foot-3 wideout, who last played in the CFL, was able to out-leap cornerbacks to grab downfield throws. Rogers connected with Gabbert on a dig route across the middle and later snatched a jump ball from Driskel just short of the goal line.
  1. The opening group period of practice featured a drill where all three quarterbacks, plus Kelly and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day, fired passes at the same time to five different receivers. Every eligible receiver was able to catch a pass at the end of their intended route. Another example of Kelly's efficient practice methods saw the offense alternating the left and right sides of the field in a combination route-running drill against the defense. Quarterbacks quickly alternated making throws in the rapid-fire drill.
  1. Lewis' most memorable throw of the day was a deep sideline go route to Jerome Simpson in the opening 7-on-7 period. Simpson was able to secure the ball in front of Brock, who had tight coverage on the play.
  1. Second-team cornerbacks Johnson and Kenneth Acker recorded pass breakups in the 7-on-7 period.
  1. Arik Armstead lined up as the first-team left defensive tackle. He was joined on the line by nose tackle Mike Purcell and right defensive tackle Quinton Dial. Former defensive tackle Garrett Celek lined up mostly as a right outside linebacker. First-round draft pick DeForest Buckner saw action in the same position with the third-team defense. All rookies took third-team reps, which makes sense since they're playing catch up with the veterans at this stage of the offseason.
  1. Bruce Miller made several catches in his new H-back role, including a well-thrown deep crossing route from Gabbert in the first 11-on-11 period of the day.
  1. DuJuan Harris, Shaun Draughn, Mike Davis and rookie Kelvin Taylor took reps behind Pierre Garçon at running back. The runners were also very involved in the passing game.
  1. Harris was joined by wide receivers Bruce Ellington, DeAndrew White and undrafted rookie Bryce Treggs for kick return work.
  1. Marcus Cromartie lined up as a reserve safety during 11-on-11 drills.
  1. Gabbert's best throw of the day was a skinny post to Garrett Celek, who slipped past the coverage of safety Eric Reid. Gabbert beat the coverage with a throw that led his receiver up the field.
  1. Linebacker Gerald Hodges, who lined up next to NaVorro Bowman as first-team inside linebackers, broke up a pass at the line of scrimmage. Other defensive highlights included Tony Jerod-Eddie and Buckner recording sacks in a third-down team period.
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