SANTA CLARA – Here’s who stood out during the San Francisco 49ers’ rookie minicamp. Keep in mind, they didn’t have enough linemen to do 11-on-11 scrimmages, so they did 7-on-7 scrimmages. Which means I didn’t get to see Drake Jackson, Spencer Burford or Nick Zakelj compete. So I didn’t focus on them.
1. Wide receiver Danny Gray.
He was the best player on the field, the star of the practice. He got five targets and caught four of them, plus one catch was a 50-yard touchdown. On that play, he ran a deep post route and beat rookie sixth-round pick Tariq Castro-Fields (more on him below). Gray also made an acrobatic 20-yard catch along the left sideline. He even made a catch over the middle, although he caught the ball with his chest. He also dropped a short pass after running a quick slant. So he wasn’t perfect. But he is clearly explosive, much more so than Dante Pettis, my original comparison for Gray when the 49ers drafted him. A better comparison for Gray is former 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who also was extremely fast.
2. Running back Jordan Mason.
He’s a natural receiver, unlike Ty Davis Price (more on him below). Mason caught two passes in the flat. On one of the catches, he juked a defender as the ball hit his hands.
3. Linebacker Marcelino McCrary-Ball.
The only player on the 49ers defense who did anything in coverage. McCray-Ball broke up two passes, and one of the breakups might have been a forced fumble – that play would have been reviewed during an actual game.
4. Wide receiver Keke Chism.
He made the best catch of the day – a leaping, twisting 20-yard back-shoulder fade. Made it look easy. Chism also caught two passes running full speed over the middle and gained YAC He’s a 6’5 “tryout guy who isn’t even an undrafted free agent. The 49ers should give him a contract pronto.
THE NOT SO GOOD
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1. Running back Ty Davis-Price.
I don’t know if he has bad hand-eye coordination, but that’s the book on him, and he certainly dropped a pass today. He was wide open in the flat, and he just butchered it. Later, he caught a pass and ran upfield with it. When the play was over, he casually tossed the ball to himself and dropped it.
2. Cornerback Sam Womack.
Started at left cornerback and took zero snaps in the slot, which was surprising. Mostly played off coverage and didn’t get tested much. The one time he got tested, he gave up a 10-yard catch to Gray.
3. Cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields.
Played lots of aggressive bump-and-run coverage and got burned multiple times. Probably isn’t good enough to play aggressive bump-and-run coverage in the NFL.
4. Quarterback Brock Purdy.
Completed a ton of 5-yard passes to running backs out of the flat and didn’t get intercepted – eat your heart out, Jimmy Garoppolo. But any time Purdy threw the ball to the sideline or down the field, the ball fluttered and died. He has one of the weakest arms I’ve ever seen on the 49ers practice field – it’s Scott-Tolzien-esque. It’s remarkable how much Kyle Shanahan and his father love good-not-great college quarterbacks who have zero impressive physical attributes.
1. Former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
He watched the entire practice from the sideline. Clearly, he was a guest of honor. Perhaps he thinks he could become the defensive coordinator here next year if DeMeco Ryans becomes a head coach somewhere else. What an addition Fangio would be. He’s one of the greatest defensive coordinators in franchise history.