Jimmy G and Kyle get all the attention but it’s time to talk about the defense, too

Niners defense lit up the practice fields on Day 2 in Santa Clara

Tommy Call
July 27, 2018 - 3:45 pm

Since the arrivals of Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan in Santa Clara, all we’ve heard about is how electric this will offense will be.

On Friday, that was not the case.

The defense lit up the Santa Clara practice field for the second day in a row. Shanahan admitted as much.

“I thought the defense had two real good days, did a little better than the offense yesterday and I thought today was a big difference,” Shanahan said, “I was a little disappointed today... I don’t think the offense had a very good feel for the day,”

The defense just seemed to have a bounce — whether they were flying around the field, dancing or celebrating on the sideline. They played with a sense of swagger and confidence we haven’t seen from a 49ers defense since the Harbaugh days.

One play stuck out during 7-on-7 drills. The 49ers defense was locked in deep coverage denying any big play, but a miscommunication left a wide open receiver in the flat. A simple play that gained about seven yards.

Richard Sherman didn’t see it that way. He seemed angry on the sideline with the DBs immediately coaching them up on on how to take away the flat.

Whether it’s Adrian Colbert, K’Waun Williams or DJ Reed Jr, the defensive backs gravitate towards Sherman, and I didn’t even bring up Ahkello Witherspoon who is literally glued next to Sherman every second. He has complete command and attention from the defensive back unit. Every play mattered for Sherman and the defensive backs. An easy footwork drill that opened camp had Sherman diving for the football.

Witherspoon summed it up perfectly after practice when he spoke about learning from guys like Sherman. Jaquiski Tartt and former 49er Eric Reid.

“Every rep is life or death,” Witherspoon said. Something that has clearly resonated with this defense through two days.

You would think without pads, and limited contact this offense would look smooth and crisp, but Friday was just dominated by the defense in every way, even the offensive line.

DeForest Buckner caused problems up the interior consistently. Buckner disrupted plays at several different occasions through today’s practice. Another player who popped on defensive line was Jeremiah Attaochu. Attaochu seemed lightning fast off the ball and got into the backfield with ease several times.

There’s not much doubt the offense will catch up to the defenses current pace, but if they continue to have this type of speed and confidence who knows what could happen in Santa Clara.


Other notes from Day 2:

Rookie Hype Machine

Rookie tackle Mike McGlinchey rushed into the crowd before walk throughs began to hype the crowd. He went up and down the bleachers cheering along with other fans. Their was clearly a buzz in the air after that. The crowd seemed to rock just as the team was stretching. Shanahan called it “the rookie hype machine” he said the team might be planning to have a rookie hype the crowd daily, but “McGlinchey might have to calm down.”

No wide receiver one

After practice Shanahan spoke about Pierre Garcon and the rest of the receiving corps. He spoke about how versatile this group was and how happy he was with the guys they have the WR room. He said there “Isn’t one guy we’re feeding,” indicating something many speculated that there is no true wide-receiver one, like DeAndre Hopkins or Antonio Brown on this team.

Play of the day

During 7-on-7, a great effort by DJ Reed Jr. diving over the deep middle to deflect a CJ Beathard pass into the air resulting in an interception. Sherman and fellow DB’s burst off the sideline with cheers.

Defensive Player of the day

The entire secondary. There was no big plays on offense through the air. There were also a few sacks that could be considered coverage sacks.

Offensive Player of the day

Matt Brieda. Brieda accountated for a few long runs bursting through the middle of the defense. You could feel how hard he was running on the offense. Something Shanahan spoke about after practice, “Brieda is just consistent, he runs hard no matter what, pads or not,” Brieda is battling with Joe Williams for reps and through two days Brieda seems to be running away with things, literally.

Best thing you’ll watch today

The 49ers return to practice tomorrow with pads. Things are getting serious

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