SANTA CLARA – There was no easing into his first training camp for 49ers rookie defensive end Nick Bosa.
Bosa lined up at right defensive end for San Francisco's second-team defense, but he saw a lot of work in 1-on-1 and team drills against six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley.
The results were positive for Bosa, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft. In the non-padded practice on the first day of camp, Bosa bent around the edge on a third-and-8 play and got close enough to brush against quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
While 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was encouraged, he knows that how Bosa fares in the coming days and weeks against Staley will be a lot more telling than his first practice.
“I guess he got Joe a couple of times today, but Joe’s a seasoned vet and he’s going to find out very quickly how the linemen adjust in this league tomorrow when Joe stalemates him,” Saleh said.
When the pads go on during practice Monday, it will reveal a lot more about Bosa, too.
“I know it’s exciting for him, but he’s still just a bobblehead running around until we get pads on,” Saleh said of Bosa. “He’ll get a chance tomorrow to see his game, see where he falls when Joe makes his adjustments. But Bosa, he’s got a chance to be great, but he’s got to take every day and just understand he’s got to evolve his game or they’ll figure it out.”
Greenlaw lays down the law
Rookie Dre Greelaw, a fifth-round pick from Arkansas, was on the field with the 49ers’ first-team defense at the Sam linebacker position. He got off to a good start in his quest for a starting job Saturday, as he competes against Malcolm Smith and Mark Nzeocha.
Greenlaw broke into the backfield to stuff running back Tevin Coleman on the very first play of training camp. It was a familiar sight for fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who remembered Greenlaw did the same thing during organized team activities in the spring.
“He seems to have a nose for the ball,” Juszczyk said of Greenlaw. “I’m pretty sure it was the very first play of OTAs, he blew up the running back in the backfield. And I’m pretty sure the very first play today, he blew up the running back in the backfield.
"Right there, that tells you the guy has a nose for the ball and he’s not timid. A rookie that’s going to go in there and shoot his guns on the very first play of practice, I think that’s impressive and he can build from that.”
Garoppolo returns to 11-on-11
Garoppolo misfired badly on his first two pass attempts during team drills, but ended with six consecutive completions, including two apiece to Dante Pettis and Jordan Matthews. Garoppolo took only 7-on-7 snaps during the offseason program, as the 49ers took a cautious approach in his return from a torn left ACL. Garoppolo is outfitted with a brace on his left knee.
Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard, who are in competition for the backup job, will rotate practice snaps during camp. Mullens took the reps with the second team on Saturday and completed three of five attempts, while Beathard completed four of six passes.
Offensive Play of the Day
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who is in competition for a roster spot and a role, carried over a strong offseason program into the first day of camp.
Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was in man coverage against Matthews on a deep crossing route during the scrimmage portion. When Witherspoon tripped and fell, Matthews was all alone for a big gainer on a pass from Garoppolo.
Defensive Play of the Day
The 49ers were the worst team in the history of the NFL last season at generating takeaways, so it’s understandable generating turnovers will be the major point of emphasis. That point was made when safety Tyree Robinson stripped rookie tight end Tyree Mayfield of the ball after a pass completion from Beathard.
Robinson also recovered the loose ball, eliciting quite a response from his defensive teammaetes.
The cameras must be shut off when 11-on-11 drills begin. Here are the #49ers receivers working the cones today at practice, then some clips of Deebo Samuel running routes on air. pic.twitter.com/JChsiSVQAs— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) July 28, 2019
Comings and goings
The 49ers signed on Saturday signed rookie defensive lineman Jordan Thompson to a one-year contract. Thompson (6-foot-3, 292 pounds) originally signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted rookie from Northwestern on May 3. The Colts waived him on May 20.
On Friday, the 49ers released veteran defensive lineman Cedric Thornton, while also signing tight end Niles Paul and center Dillon Day.
This ‘n’ that
One different feature with the team’s new training staff is how the players stretch and warm up prior to practice. In the past, all the players would line up together and go through the same routine. Now, the offensive linemen and defensive linemen are on one side going through one set of stretches, while the team’s smaller players go through a different warmup regimen.
Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Richie James, D.J. Reed and Malik Henry worked on fielding punts.
Solomon Thomas had a good showing in practice while working at defensive tackle with the base unit. Saleh said the team still considers Thomas a defensive end on base downs and an inside pass-rusher in nickel situations, but all the defensive linemen will see action at different spots on the line during the practices.
The 49ers hope center Weston Richburg will be available for the start of the regular season. In the meantime, the 49ers rotated Ben Garland and Mike Person at center with the first unit, while Person and Joshua Garnett rotated at right guard.
Linebacker Kwon Alexander and cornerback Jason Verrett saw some practice time, as the 49ers are bringing them back slowly from injuries of last season. Alexander sustained a season-ending torn ACL in November, while Verrett did not play last season due to a torn Achilles he sustained on the first day of camp last year with the Los Angeles Chargers.
The 49ers return to practice Sunday at 10 a.m. in Santa Clara.