Summer is in full swing in the city of Santa Clara as the California heat exceeded 90 degrees and the 49ers took the field at the SAP Performance Facility for training camp. In addition to Saturday being the team's first training camp practice open to the media, it was also the 49ers first full-speed practice of the year. Here are several takeaways from the field, as well as from Kyle Shanahan, as the head coach addressed the media following the start of open practices.
- Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman appeared to split the bulk of the first-team reps at running back. However, Jerick McKinnon may have been the highlight of the day. After missing the last two seasons while dealing with an ACL injury, McKinnon appeared healthy during Saturday's session that included a few carries and a reception over the middle on a pass from Nick Mullens.
"Still (the) first day, the first step, but you can tell that he healed right, and you can tell Jet's put that work in and you feel all this that he's gone through in the last two years. I feel he's finally in a position where he has a chance to have this comeback now," Shanahan said. "He had a real good first day of practice."
"He looks like the same guy," Shanahan said. "I know how hard he's worked and I know how excited he is. He isn't a guy you want to go up to and baby right now or ask him how his foot is doing. He'll be very irritated with that question. He's ready to move on. He's ready to play some football."
"I've been really impressed with him, just being around him," Shanahan said. "He was very impressive on the Zoom meetings, just his attention to detail. Since we've gotten here, just going into these walkthroughs and stuff, you can tell he knows how to practice like a pro. You can tell he comes prepared every day. He's not a guy you have to teach how to act or teach how important it is to learn this stuff. You can tell he understood that before he got here. Since we've been around him, you can tell he's been working and that's why he's further ahead, I think, than a lot of rookies would be at this time."
Odds and Ends
- Arik Armstead did not practice on Saturday. The sixth-year defensive lineman is dealing with back stiffness, which is likely to keep him out of the weekend's sessions. According to Shanahan, the 49ers aren't "too worried" about the injury and the team aims to get him back in the mix during their next block of practices.
"He could be out there if we really needed him to right now, but we're trying to be smart," Shanahan said.
- Second-year receiver Jalen Hurd was on hand during practice, however, worked out on the side during full team drills. Hurd is making a return from a stress fracture in his back suffered during last year's preseason. The team plans to ease him back into full participation.
"He's put in a lot of work to get to where he is right now to come back from that back injury," Shanahan said. "I thought he had a great first 10 days. We are trying to be smart with him and ease him in. (He) just did individual today but hopefully that will pick up as we go."
- Tight end Jordan Reed, who joined the team last week, was also a participant in individual drills, but worked off to the side along with Hurd during full team work. According to the head coach, the team's goal is to gradually introduce him into the offense, given his injury history and the timing of his signing.
"We're being smart with Jordan, very similar to Hurd," Shanahan said. "We do know his history, and he just hasn't been here as long as other guys. We eased him in today – routes on air, did all of the individual work. We didn't want him going against anyone yet. We'll reassess that each day and we'll get him in there when we're comfortable with it."
- Shanahan shared some optimism on Deebo Samuel's return. The second-year wideout suffered a stress fracture in his foot over the offseason that is set to keep him sidelined throughout the entirety of training camp. While eyeing a Week 1 return, the head coach isn't "counting on it" just yet.
"A lot has to do with 'are you ready to play? Are you fully healed by that time? Are you in football shape,'" Shanahan said. "Deebo's going to do everything he can to be in shape, but it's hard to be in football shape until you can play football. So, how many practices do we get him in here before Arizona? That's going to all go into play. I'm hoping for Week 1, but not sure yet. It's still too early."
- The 49ers added depth along the receiving corps on Saturday with the signings of veteran wideouts, J.J. Nelson and Tavon Austin. The 49ers are without Richie James (wrist) and Samuel (foot) through camp, limiting the team to just nine receivers. Given the risk of any additional injuries, it was necessary for the team to seek additional options. According to the head coach, both veterans are more than capable of earning a spot on the roster.
"We needed to get some more guys in just for legs, but the fact that we got two guys in who have the ability to make our roster, who could have roles on this team with both of their skillsets made me very excited to get them," he said. "We didn't know if we were going to get one or two but the way they looked in workouts yesterday, they were both in shape. (They) looked like they had in previous places they've been in their career. And that's what excites me the most. We needed the numbers to help guys, but we also added two guys who are capable of beating people out on this roster and capable of earning a spot."
In order to make room on the roster for Nelson and Austin, the team waived tight end Daniel Helm and waived/injured wide receiver Chris Thompson.
- Shanahan confirmed there is no competition at WILL linebacker. Last season, Dre Greenlaw beat out several veterans in training camp for the starting SAM linebacker job before stepping in for Kwon Alexander at WILL after a Week 9 pectoral injury kept him out for the remainder of the regular season. Despite Greenlaw's impressive play, the head coach emphasized Alexander's job is his to lose.
"No one just has a job set in stone, but I don't see that as open competition right now," Shanahan said. "We brought Kwon here for a reason (and he) did exactly what we wanted when he was out there and did even more than we anticipated from a leadership standpoint. Kwon's been great here. That's not taking anything away from Dre, he had a helluva rookie year – the more he got his opportunities, the better he got. We had a few good guys there (but) we see that as Kwon's job right now."
The 49ers have one more full-team practice before their first padded practice scheduled for Monday, Aug. 17. That practice will be streamed live during the 49ers Live Look In, airing on 49ers.com and the 49ers app at 10:35 am PT. For more on how to follow along, visit here.