On Tuesday, the San Francisco 49ers reported to the SAP Performance Facility for the start of their five-week training camp. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch addressed the media ahead of the 49ers series of sessions to provide several updates on players and the state of the team heading into camp.
Player Safety and Protocols
The league has made significant efforts in urging players, coaches and staff to be fully vaccinated by the start of the season. Last year, the NFL saw matchups postponed, games played without a quarterback, facilities shut down and, even for the 49ers, contests where a handful of starters were placed on the COVID-19 list just days ahead of a primetime matchup.
The NFL has set stiff penalties for those who are unvaccinated or teams who become infected by unvaccinated players this season. Per NFL.com, the restrictions for non-vaccinated players are significant, including daily testing (even during byes), masks, limits on in-person meetings, being barred from eating in the cafeteria, etc. Additionally, if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and be credited with a loss, per sources informed of the situation.
Teams that reach at least an 85 percent vaccination rate, however, will be granted looser restrictions. According to Lynch, the 49ers are among a number of teams who have surpassed the vaccination threshold. Over 90 percent of the 49ers locker room is fully vaccinated at the start of training camp.
"It really speaks to our players," Lynch said. "We didn't enforce anything. What we tried to do is just communicate with our guys and rely on the professionals to educate them as much as possible. So, our guys really arrived at this individually and as a team, and we're proud of them for that."
Returns Off the Edge (and at WR)
The 49ers received good news this week as the team is anticipating the return of both of their Pro Bowl edge rushers. Shanahan revealed that both Nick Bosa and Dee Ford have passed their physicals and are clear to return to return to the field. Bosa has spent the last 10 months working his way back from a season-ending ACL tear. Meanwhile, Ford appeared in one game last season after dealing with a neck and back injury he suffered in the season opener. He spent the majority of the offseason rehabbing at the 49ers team facility in Santa Clara before continuing his rehab offsite under the guidance of a specialist.
The same goes for wide receiver Jalen Hurd. Hurd has yet to take the field after being sidelined in consecutive seasons due to injury. Last season, Hurd tore his ACL on the second day of padded training camp practices while rehabbing on the sidelines.
The plan is to ease the trio back onto the field through individual drills before joining their teammates for full-team work.
"They're all starting out, I believe, with individual (work) tomorrow," Shanahan said. "We're not going to put any of them in team situations for a little bit - I'd say at least this first block of days. I think we've got four practices, a day off, and then I believe we've got three more again and then a day off. I think we'll look into it in about a week. It's the first time they'll be out there with the D-Line and stuff and doing things like that. Jalen with the receivers. I'd be surprised if they got into team drills within a week. But as soon as they're ready, they'll be out there."
Check out some of the best images as 49ers players arrived at the SAP Performance Facility for training camp.
PUP List and Potential Returns
Following offseason injuries to Jeff Wilson Jr. and Tarvarius Moore, both players have been placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list. Wilson Jr. is likely to miss the first few weeks of the season after tearing his meniscus at the team facility back in May. Moore suffered an Achilles tear during a non-contact drill during the final week of organized team activities.
Wilson Jr. is expected to miss four to six months, which brings him to an October timeline to return at the earliest. As for Moore, Lynch did not rule out a late season return for the fourth-year safety. He noted the recovery of Olympic gymnast Artur Dalaloyan, who won a metal just three months removed from an Achilles injury and believes Moore could have a similar path.
"We're hopeful there's a chance at the end of the year Tarvarius can come back and help our team," Lynch said. "We've talked a lot about it, but those are special kinds of athletes and Tarvarius fits in that mold. They tend to heal. And he's on a good course right now. So we're hopeful that maybe there's a chance that by the end of the season, he'd help our team. He was really having a great offseason."
Jaquiski Tartt may be another member of the 49ers to be added to the PUP list. The safety was placed on Injured Reserve in Week 9 of last year with a season-ending turf-toe injury and has spent the offseason rehabbing.
Faith in Garoppolo
The most intriguing and publicized topic surrounding San Francisco's training camp is the battle, or lack thereof, between Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie quarterback, Trey Lance. The 49ers brass reiterated their stance on Garoppolo being the team's starter going forward and don't foresee a battle at this current juncture in the year.
"Jimmy, going through OTAs, what he's done, he's our best quarterback in the building right now," Shanahan said. "So, he'll start out training camp that way. And we've got three other guys behind him. Now we're going to give Trey the first chance, obviously, as the backup. And anytime a guy is playing a lot better than the guy in front of them is when you start to split reps up with that team and start to talk about it. Trey has had seven practices with us. And I haven't seen him for 40 days, so I'm not thinking about that right now. Just having Jimmy going, he's our starter. And we're going to give all those guys every opportunity to improve. And if someone ever looks like they give us a better chance to win, we'll make that decision."
Shanahan shared that Garoppolo is coming off of his "best" offseason in San Francisco since joining the team in 2017. He noted Garoppolo's sharpness, rhythm, aggressiveness and body language, which he anticipates carrying over through the next several weeks.
"If Jimmy's at the top of his game, I told him this back whenever we made the trade, there's no rookie who is going to just come in here right away and be able to take your job if you're at the top of your game," the head coach continued. "And what I've seen so far is him getting there. And that's very exciting for me. It's very exciting for the Niners. And it's early those were OTAs, we'll see how training camp goes and we'll deal with it accordingly."