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Takeaways from Day 5 of 49ers training camp

The pads are finally on! Now things are getting serious at training camp for the 49ers. While it’s still worth scaling back sweeping declarations about the season based on practice, opinions can be educated better now that there’s more physicality and contact in these training camp sessions.

Here’s what went down on Day 5 and what we’re making of it:


(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Deebo Samuel made his 2022 debut and for the first time all offseason participated with his teammates in a practice. In mandatory minicamp he stayed off to the side doing conditioning. He followed that same path the first four days of camp. He agreed to a three-year extension on Sunday, then signed the deal Monday before practice. He’ll be eased into work so he didn’t go through a full session, but his No. 19 jersey was definitely on the field.

Javon Kinlaw remains

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Kinlaw sat out the first padded practice, but there’s no cause for concern. The 49ers are simply giving their defensive tackle a routine maintenance day following a day off. Keeping him healthy is key for San Francisco’s defense this year. It wouldn’t be surprising if maintenance days are a regular thing for Kinlaw throughout the year.

Going off script

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The 49ers’ pass rush is forcing the quarterback Trey Lance to do a lot of things off schedule in the offense. This has some pros and cons. The good news is San Francisco’s defense looks the part of a championship-caliber unit, and Lance was able to make some terrific plays by getting outside the pocket. The bad news is that the offensive line is struggling early and the 49ers would probably like to see Lance get into more of a rhythm with plays running on time. Being able to escape a good pass rush and still make a play is one of the benefits of the team’s change to Lance at QB though, and his penchant for making plays when things break down will come in handy for him and San Francisco in 2022. Now the club just needs to ensure its offensive line gives him time to make plays within the structure of the offense as well.

Contested catch Kittle

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One of the few knocks on George Kittle through the early part of his career was that he was not a super effective pass catcher in traffic. That changed some last year, and it appears to be carrying over into training camp this year with the tight end tearing multiple receptions away from defenders. Lance and Kittle need to be on the same page, but it’ll be a lot easier on the first-time starting QB if his TE is going to make those receptions in tight coverage. That should also be helpful in keeping Kittle’s touchdown numbers up after he posted a career-high six TDs last season.

Brandon Aiyuk keeps shining

With Samuel out of the first four practices, Aiyuk shone as the team’s No. 1 receiver. That didn’t change with Samuel back in action. He was the recipient of a couple big plays from Lance, and made this catch over Jimmie Ward in one-on-one drills:

Pads don’t change the Olympics

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Pads coming on didn’t change the 49ers’ training camp plan on the offensive line. They rotated tackles Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey out. Rookie fourth-round pick Spencer Burford remained at right guard while Jake Brendel worked as the first-team center. Burford’s emergence continues to be the surprise of training camp, and he appears to be the unlikely frontrunner for the starting RG spot with Aaron Banks likely to hold down the left guard job.

Elijah Mitchell’s role

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A crowded running back room doesn’t seem to be cutting into Mitchell’s role as the team’s No. 1 running back. ESPN’s Nick Wagoner observed Mitchell is earning a lion’s share of the first-team run early in camp. He was the 49ers’ best running back last year and the team treated him as such. This season the club would probably like to see another back emerge who could effectively split time with Mitchell. For now it appears the plan is to roll with Mitchell as the workhorse back, although that could change quickly with Tyrion Davis-Price, Trey Sermon and others vying for carries.



Story originally appeared on Niners Wire