With the countdown to the NFL regular season slowly winding down, Niners Live now gives you a breakdown of the Training Camp Battles; what we know so far. In this episode, we will be featuring the wide receivers and tight ends.
With the first day of padded practices kicking off this past Sunday, the 49ers turned up the heat during the dawg days of summer as the competition to solidify a spot on the 53-man roster got underway. Let’s look at some of the standouts and highlights so far through day four.
Standouts and Highlights
To no surprise, it has been a Slot machine by committee approach by Kyle Shanahan. As a two-time NCAA champion in the long jump and four-time NCAA All-American, Marquise Goodwin has been a highlight reel waiting to happen as he showcases his speed, elusiveness and big play ability. Goodwin has not only proven himself worthy as a deep threat, he also flashes in the short game to be a potential chain mover.
Pierre Garcon has been his usual self, proving that he still has a lot left in the tank as well as being a leader by example channeling his inner Anquan Boldin, “big brother role” as Niners Live forecasted prior to the start of camp.
DeAndre Smelter was one of the MVPs in day four of camp. Smelter reeled in a contested 25-yard reception down the right sideline displaying his strength, size and big hands as he muscled his way through contact and made an adjustment on the ball before going up and snagging the ball out mid-air. And on day five he scored a touchdown on a corner fade route. These are just some of the attributes highlighted when Niners Live posed the question, Could Deandre Smelter be the Heir-apparent to Pierre Garcon?
Aldrick Robinson showed why he will be an explosive piece in the 49ers’ offense attack this year with a big second day of padded practices, displaying his ability to get behind coverages and be a nightmare for opposing defensive backs and safeties on game-day.
Rookie Trent Taylor continues to perform well and is so far living up to the hype. Day four of training camp was no different, capping it off with the catch of the day during red zone 7 on 7’s drills. Day five he followed up with another acrobatic toe tapping catch.
Bruce Ellington made his presence felt with a nifty one-handed grab a la Odell Beckham Jr. during the team’s third camp practice, while also showing well in one-on-one drills along with UDFA Victor Bolden Jr., and Kendrick Bourne who put his afterburners on full display on day five. Ellington has also stepped in on special teams, a role that could make or break his chances to secure a roster spot and press his way out of jeopardy and into a roster spot if he continues to impress. However, it was all for not because Ellington was later released by the team.
As expected, Rookie TE George Kittle continues to make his mark, using his stellar pass-catching ability to haul in a throw. Veteran Vance McDonald as of late has tried to assert himself as the lead dawg to battle Kittle in the competition for the starting TE spot as McDonald recently discussed on the team’s website after Thursday’s practice.
Who’s Been Missing in Action?
We have still yet to see or hear much from last season’s most valuable player, the open man Jeremy Kerley. It seems early on Aldrick Robinson and Trent Taylor have been favored to receive opportunities at the slot position. However, expect Kerley to make a strong push and start to assert himself as training camp and preseason develop and we draw closer to the regular season. Aaron Burbridge has yet to make much of a statement on the field and will more than likely end up as an odd-man out this season. However, if he can make a late push with touchdown catches like this one from Thursday’s practice he’ll be a tough out.
Tight End Logan Paulsen hasn’t seen much action in the early going, it looks as though his role is to be more of a mentor to the younger players and quite possibly, he may end up being left out of the final 53 altogether as Niners Live pointed out in our Right 53 part two featuring the offense.
What to Look for Going Forward
Through the first five days of camp we’ve seen some big plays from these position groups and a preview of what the 2017 season could bring. With less than 10 days to the first preseason match-up, a lot will be riding on this next week of practices as the competition rises to the next level and the true ballers start to separate themselves from the pack.
Who will step up to the challenge and who will fall off the radar? Only time will tell, stay tuned!
Recapping some of the latest transactions by the 49ers: The 49ers claimed the 6’5” and 210-pound Tim Patrick off waivers while waiving wide receiver B.J Johnson III who later cleared waivers and was placed on injured reserve. The 49ers have also signed veteran WR Louis Murphy to a one-year deal.
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) August 4, 2017
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As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author, Content Creator, Editor Sequoia Sims.