By C.J. Peterson
Special to S.F. Examiner
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Running up bleacher steps and waving his arms in the air, San Francisco 49ers rookie tackle Mike McGlinchey fired up eager fans who sat in attendance during the team’s second open training camp practice Friday morning.
The mood did not translate to the field. The San Francisco offense fell flat for the second straight day, consistently shooting themselves in the foot with unforced mistakes and mental errors.
“I was more disappointed today,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said after practice. “The whole [offense] came out today with a little too many [mental errors]. Too many offsides and things like that. I don’t think the offense had very good rhythm today.”
While it’s still only the second day of on-field practice for San Francisco, the sluggish start to camp for this offense does warrant some concern. For the second time in as many days, the offense was outworked and outperformed by a defense that many expected to be working out kinks of their own.
During the first session of 11-on-11 drills, offensive flow was nearly non-existent due to several offsides penalties. Along with that, there were multiple occasions when the offense was forced to re-huddle due to confusion on individual assignments.
Perhaps the most concerning factor was that nearly all of the offensive plays run were scripted, as opposed to strategically called in real time. In other words, personnel groupings and formations were pre-determined.
“We’re not calling plays right now. Everything is scripted so you should know what’s being expected,” Shanahan said. “I want us to come out a little more focused early on. If you get beat, you get beat. But I don’t want us to beat ourselves.”
Similar struggles appeared in 7-on-7 drills as well, as day-one-stud Marquise Goodwin experienced instances of mental lapses.
In an attempt to secure a pass on a shallow crossing route, Goodwin fumbled the ball. For the next two plays or so Goodwin appeared openly frustrated with what had just transpired.
Kicking the ground and clapping his hands at himself on the sideline, the six-year NFL veteran was self-critical after the misstep.
“When I have a drop or a missed assignment, which very rarely happens but when it does, of course I’m frustrated because I not only wanted to make the play but do it for the team,” Goodwin said when asked to reflect on the incident.
For as badly as Shanahan thought practice went offensively, however, there was a player that drew reasonable optimism for the second-year head coach.
Second-year running back Matt Breida made a strong impression on the coaching staff Friday by showing his ability to find creases in the defense and break runs up the middle of the field.
“It seemed like he ran pretty good today,” Shanahan said. “Matt [Breida] hits it hard. He goes full speed every whether its with pads on or not. He’s going to find that hole and when we give him some space, he’s going to hit it hard.”
The 49ers will look to put Friday behind them with their first padded practice, which is scheduled for Saturday morning.
According to multiple sources on the team, they will continue to send rookies, including McGlinchey, out into the groups of spectating fans to “hype up” the mood of camp. Shanahan hopes that next time it’ll have a better effect on his team.
“His effort was good. Maybe tomorrow he can hype up the offense a little more.”
– Pierre Garçon has yet to catch even a single pass in full-team drills so far in camp. Garçon missed the last eight games of the season due to a neck injury. In the eight games, he did appear in, however, Garçon hauled in 40 receptions for 500 yards. Garçon joined the 49ers last season as one of the only players on the roster to have played for Shanahan in the past, and was instrumental in teaching the coach’s offensive scheme to teammates. With Goodwin emerging as a legitimate weapon, Garçon’s usage may wind up being limited this season.
– Antone Exum Jr. made the defensive play of the day by picking off C.J. Beathard. Tipping an ill advised pass from Beathard into the air, Exum was able to relocate the ball and come down with the only interception of the day. He just missed a pick after being slow to roll coverage over the top on the first day of workouts.
– The defensive line for San Francisco looked to be up to speed on their pass rushes. It’s tough to really take anything away from this since no one had pads on, but the 49es backfield saw the likes of Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner more than a few occasions. Armstead even sent a few offensive linemen to their backsides when rushing as well.
– Kyle Juszczyk looks to be an early security blanket for Jimmy Garoppolo in camp. The fullback, nicknamed “Juice,” was the consistent check-down option for Garoppolo and made some things happen with the ball in his hands. Juszczyk will likely be a Swiss Army Knife-type of a player for Shanahan and company, similar to last season. With the ability to block, catch and run with the ball, look out for Juice to be a factor come Week 1.
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