49ers training camp day 7 recap: Brandon Aiyuk continues to climb as Trey Lance and Deebo Samuel work on their timing

The first week of training camp is on the 49ers’ books. After a couple of fights during Tuesday’s practice, the players didn’t wear protectors on Wednesday. Defensive end Nick Bosa, tight end George Kittle, linebacker Dre Greenlaw and offensive tackle Jaylon Moore were in street clothes.

Tight end Jordan Matthews tore his ACL and is out for the season. He was seen walking out on crutches after Tuesday’s practice.

Aiyuk rises again

Jimmie Ward said that Brandon Ayiuk is having the best camp of anyone on the team after practice: “BA has taken their game to another level. He is insane honestly.”

You’re going to hear all about Aiyuk Day, and for good reason. Aiyuk put on a show during 1v1s as he beat whoever the defense threw in front of him.

There’s no denying that the offensive player has the upper hand during 1v1s, but Aiyuk’s men weren’t competitive. His shots were snappy, often leaving the defender leaning in the opposite direction.

Aiyuk has always thrived off the line of scrimmage. Where his game has risen to the next level is through contact. Aiyuk has a ‘wow’ catch every day. Most of them come with a defensive back on him. Yet time and time again, Aiyuk protects the cornerback as he holds onto the ball to his full length.

The most promising part is that they are all on different routes. Two of today’s were along the sideline on an exit route and a double move. It would be a shock if the video of the latter does not circulate on social networks.

Trey Lance ran to his right on a play-action pass. Aiyuk acted like he was going to run across the field, only to turn right. Charvarius Ward was not fooled. Ward was in an ideal position to make a play, but Lance, closer to an underwater arm angle than a sideways throw, perfectly placed the ball over Ward’s outstretched arms for a touchdown.

The work was a jewel and a display of the maximum traits of Lance, Aiyuk and Ward.

lance lets go

You have to put into perspective that Lance has three new blockers in front of him going against the 49ers’ defensive line, which Mike McGlinchey called the most complete defensive line in the game.

Right guard Spencer Burford shined on a running play. He was asked to throw and kick the defensive lineman on a trap play. Burford not only executed the block from him, but ran down the field with a fist in the air celebrating when the running back broke for a significant gain.

Burford has taken reps with the starters since the start of camp. Trent Williams praised his confidence last week as a reason he works with the first team, and the play above is an example of why.

And to the credit of Jake Brendel, who was primarily the center for the first team, as well as Aaron Banks, Lance had more time in his pocket than usual on Wednesday. We act like the defensive line wins all the time, and it doesn’t. Lance had a clean pocket to throw on most of his kicks.

So when I tell you that Lance was 3 out of 8, a 37% completion rate is sure to raise questions.

Most of these throws were over 25 yards. In one, Aiyuk had a step on Charvarius, and Lance outplayed him by a step. It’s a release you expect Lance to consistently complete in November. The ball had to be placed perfectly between cornerback and safety, and Lance missed it.

On another pitch, Deebo Samuel dropped behind Emmanuel Moseley by a half step. Lance puts the ball in the money. He is calm and away from the defender about 45 yards down the field. The pass hits Samuel in the hands, but Deebo drops it. That’s a completion nine times out of ten.

The final example is in a game action pass where Samuel is running an option route. If the secondary does one thing, Deebo executes a deep route. If they make another one, he’ll break the pylon in the end zone. Lance threw the deep corner route while Samuel ran an exit route.

So we have incompletes due to accuracy, a drop and not being on the same page as the catcher who missed the first four days of training camp, as well as all the OTAs and minicamps.

Lance threw two touchdowns in the red zone and went another day without an interception. At the beginning of the camp, the defense took care of everything. That’s not happening as much this week, which is a sign of Lance’s progress.

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