SANTA CLARA -- For the first time since the 2019 NFC Championship Game, the Faithful returned to Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers held an open practice on the field for more than two hours, giving the 19,021 fans in attendance something to cheer. The flow of practice was very similar to what happens on the outside fields, but it was condensed into a smaller area.
Players appeared energized, enjoying the crowd noise and participation. Veteran left tackle Trent Williams, who was in front of fans for the first time since 2018, shared that at times it was difficult for the 49ers' offense to hear what the calls were. This was not only a great practice run for stadium ops, but for the team as well.
“For me, walking out of a home locker room having the fans, honestly it almost scared the s--t out of me,” Williams said with a laugh. “Excuse the language. I’m just walking out for normal practice and forgot that the fans were there. As soon as we walked out, there was a thunderous roar.
“Obviously, I was walking out behind [George] Kittle and [Nick] Bosa, so there were screams, but there definitely was a difference. I forgot what it feels like to be cheered on.”
The offense moved the ball the best with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. The veteran quarterback completed 15 of his 24 pass attempts, including going 5 of 8 during their move-the-ball team drill. The series ended with a touchdown pass to Kittle.
Trey Lance completed 11 of 18 pass attempts, with a little less yardage gained. He completed three of his six attempts in his final series, ending practice with a Marcell Harris interception on a pass intended for Elijah Mitchell.
Fan reaction was positive all the way around. Great plays by both the offense and defense were met with enthusiastic cheers. There were no chants for one quarterback or the other, as fans seemed happy simply to be back in the stands watching football after more than a year away.
Here are other notes and observations from the 49ers' ninth practice of training camp:
-- Defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw, Arik Armstead (groin) and Samson Ebukam (soreness) had maintenance days. Also absent were linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (knee sprain) and tight end MyCole Pruitt (calf). Defensive end Nick Bosa participated in individual drills but still hasn't done any 1-on-1 work or team drills.
-- Cornerback Ken Webster left practice early with a left arm/shoulder injury after a rep in which he was locked up with tight end Jordan Matthews in team drills.
-- In 1-on-1s, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had two stand-out reps beating rookies Deommodore Lenoir on one reception and Ambry Thomas on another.
-- Travis Benjamin showed he still has speed. The 31-year-old receiver burned Webster in a 1-on-1 rep before the defensive back left practice with an injury.
-- It was another strong practice from cornerback Jason Verrett, who continues to show why he was a first-round draft pick in 2014. He broke up a short Garoppolo pass intended for Deebo Samuel, and got his fingertips on another that would have been a catch and first down for Aiyuk.
-- If it isn’t Verrett getting a PBU, it's Jimmie Ward or K’Waun Williams. The chemistry between the three veteran defensive backs who began last season has been even more evident in camp.
-- Eddie Yarbrough was a defensive line standout with two sacks/pressures of Lance as well as getting his mitts on one of the rookie’s passes. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has been pleased with the 28-year-old defender.
“Yarbrough had a late start to training camp, but he’s stepped in and done really well,” Ryans said. “He never stops. That’s what I like about Yarbrough -- he never stops. Always going, great motor, great effort, and he’s always around the ball making plays.”
-- Issues with the quarterback-center exchange need to be cleaned up before Week 1. Alex Mack has started to wear a towel tucked into the back of his pants in an attempt to curb the sweat that has made the ball too slippery for Garoppolo to handle.
-- Outside of the occasional ball-handling issues, Williams reports that the offensive line chemistry has been excellent. Mack’s veteran presence at center has improved the group's play.
“Having Alex — in this offense, center is vital,” Williams said. “We have so many moving parts, so many motions, and with those movements come calls, and the center is charge of all of that. Having a guy who has literally seen every look there is, I think, it’s a huge, huge plus.”
-- Josh Rosen completed 4 of 4 pass attempts in team drills, and Nate Sudfeld completed one pass and had one incompletion as they vie for the No. 3 QB spot.