49ers fans in attendance for Back Together Saturday got to sit back and watch Trey Lance hit some tight-window throws and San Francisco's defense come up with four more takeaways. After four practices logged, the players will have a much-needed day of rest before the team's first padded practice on Monday.
"I've been real happy with it (first week of camp)," head coach Kyle Shanahan said prior to taking the field Saturday morning. "Three practices in, the first day was not as much as I wanted, we started off just a little slower…The second day was my favorite day because we got a ton of reps. We got a real football practice in. Yesterday (Friday), we backed it off a little, just the way we do reps, and today (Saturday) will be much harder. I'm really excited to get these four days out of the way because we're past due putting pads on. We need to get that going."
Shanahan has been able to make early assessments of his position groups, but there are certain aspects of the game that are best observed with pads.
"It says who's a natural runner," Shanahan said when asked about the evaluation of the running backs. "It's very easy to do that because our practices aren't that much different when we have helmets on...You use your helmets, you use your face, use your hands and you can see when backs are going to go full speed, not get stuck and hit the right hole. No matter how good they look, you don't know for sure until they know they're going to get hit. That's when you find out in the preseason, you can know who's a talented guy and who hits the right holes, but you want to see their mindset when the running back knows people are coming for them and you want to see if he's going for them."
While putting on pads allows for more contact play, a couple of the veteran defensive players explained the approach to training camp practices largely stays the same.
"We're hitting out there whether we have pads on our not," defensive end Nick Bosa said. "It's pretty much the same thing. More power rushes will be used once the pads do come on. I kind of like the days without pads because it forces me to use finesse moves which sometimes I get away from throughout the season because my power works a lot. These two days that I've practiced, I've been able to use a lot of edge rushes, and that's something I'd like to improve on this year."
"We're all ready," linebacker Fred Warner said. "Kyle's mentioned it a couple times, wanted to get the pads on. That's really what football is about. It's the physicality part of it. I don't know if a ton changes. We were already competing at a pretty high level, especially on our side of the ball…so when the pads come on nothing really changes, just really able to thud guys up. It's great for linebackers to be able to compete against the running backs, thud them up, tight ends, receivers and work our technique. This is where you kind of build that callus where you get those hits and once you get into the season, it's just second nature and you go."