The San Francisco 49ers were back in front of their fans for the first time since January last year, with 600 persons allowed to watch the team’s first practice in Wednesday’s training camp. The players weren’t allowed to interact with fans due to COVID-19 protocols but tight end George Kittle went over to applaud the onlooking crowd at the end of the 80-minute practice.
“It was awesome, even driving in and dabbing familiar guys out there. They were nervous but I wasn’t, I’m vaccinated,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said.
“We hadn’t seen fans in a while so it was great to see,” wide receiver Deebo Samuel added.
“We’ll just crown everybody today before I’ve watched the tape and after five reps,” Shanahan said of the general performance.
The team announced signing Lance to his rookie deal, having tied the third overall pick down to a four-year deal worth $34.1 million a few hours prior to training camp.
“The San Francisco 49ers announced on Wednesday they have signed QB Trey Lance to a four-year deal. With the signing, the 49ers now have all eight of the team’s 2021 draft picks under contract,” the announcement reads.
The head coach has made it clear that there’s no competition between his QBs, with Garoppolo the No.1 option and Lance playing understudy. “There’s no open competition right now,” he said. “Jimmy is coming in as the one and Trey is coming in as the two.”
The 49ers traded up to get Lance at No.3 in April’s NFL Draft and he is expected to be the one who takes over the reins in the next few seasons. Lance played just one game for North Dakota State in his final year due to COVID-19. He attended the team’s minicamp unsigned and bypassed a holdout in order to get on the pitch with his teammates.
“We’ve never had a holdout but it always seems to go down to the wire,” general manager John Lynch told reporters on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, defensive ends Nick Bosa and Dee Ford did not participate in the team’s drills, though they appeared to be healthy. Bosa picked up a knee injury while Ford struggled with a back issue and the pair missed almost all of last season.
That they did not start camp on the injury list is a very good sign and there’s hope that they could make another run at the Super Bowl, sportsbooks like Twinspires will have great odds on offer to that end.
As for Garoppolo, the QB was just what fans expected. Entering his fourth training camp, he was well aware the attention would be on Lance, who was keen on making a good first impression.
The youngster did not disappoint firing a neat 40-yard pass Samuel’s way about an hour into practice.
“It was just a go route, the corner(back) sat, I looked up and the ball was placed perfectly,” Samuel offered. A 30-yard toss found George Kittle on the sideline as he outjumped Kai Nacua.
Lance took warmup snaps alongside Garoppolo, throwing to a number of receivers intent on making the roster. His first pass in 11-on-11 drills went off starter Brandon Aiyuk’s hands. The rookie put his mobility on display on rollouts as he shot passes to tight end MyCole Pruitt’s way.
According to Mercurynews.com, he completed seven of his 10 passes while Garopollo went 6-for-8.
The older quarterback’s confidence did not wane after he left the field and it was very much a part of the presser that followed, one during which he swore twice, albeit not derogatorily. One of them was in reference to the ankle injury he suffered last year as he explained while the other was in an effort to describe just how good wide receiver Mohamed Sanu looked when compared to last year.
Garoppolo has indicated an intent to mentor Lance.
“It’s not like I would ever hold something away from him, ‘I don’t want to tell him this,’ type of thing,” he said. “When you let it happen organically, and that’s what we’ve done, it’s most natural and you can build a normal relationship between two people. I don’t want to draw a line or anything like that. But anything he needs, I’m willing to help him.”
Aiyuk got some nice catches in from Garoppolo’s throws too, one of them on the boundary off of a 10-yard throw and an impressive grab over the middle in contention with left cornerback Tim Harris Jr.
“The trust factor between me and B, it’s been awesome, it really has,” the QB explained. “His body language, it allows me to anticipate throws. On the breakdown of the play, usually as a quarterback, you have to point them, but he broke literally when I broke. We escaped the pocket together. It was kind of weird.”