49ers Analysis

49ers minicamp: Which players stood out in two-day program

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SANTA CLARA — The 49ers wrapped up their on-field work for mandatory minicamp on Wednesday with several players showing standout performances before the summer break.

Trey Lance, Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen all showed that there will be a healthy competition to earn a spot on the 53-man roster once Brock Purdy is healthy. The pair of No. 3 overall picks took the bulk of the snaps while the ex-Cincinnati Bengals quarterback was on the field for the remainder.

The mood was light but competitive with players doing a bit of smack-talking back and forth. Fred Warner might have been the most vocal on the sidelines when the defense made plays, which likely provides a preview of how training camp will unfold.

Here are a few highlights and standout moments from the two-day session:

Running back Christian McCaffrey was truly looking to be in mid-season form running through the tackles with speed and power. The All-Pro also was very efficient in the passing game, including connecting with former Carolina Panthers teammate Darnold for a touchdown in 7-on-7 work on Tuesday.

Maybe the most eye-opening moment was when McCaffrey was unable to connect with Lance during 11-on-11 drills on Wednesday. After the incompletion, the running back was seen pleading with an official that safety George Odum was guilty of holding on the play.

While most players would have dropped the issue moments after the play was called dead, McCaffrey kept explaining the situation to the closest official. The conversation went on so long that left tackle Trent Williams walked over to check on his teammate and encourage him to join the crowd of players on the sidelines to simply watch the drills.

The play that incited the most excitement for the defense was a pick-six made by defensive lineman Kerry Hyder. As the pocket closed in on Lance, the quarterback attempted to get rid of the ball but the veteran defensive lineman reached up, snagged the ball and ran it back 10 yards around the crowd of players into the endzone, where the rest of the defense met him to celebrate.

After the play, Talanoa Hufanga ran past the group of local media in attendance encouragingly shouting, “Make sure you write about that! Best play of the day!”

Lance also made some great throws, one in particular to George Kittle on Wednesday. The All-Pro got separation from Texas rookie cornerback D’Shawn Jamison for a 35-yard reception in 7-on-7 work.

The North Dakota State product’s chemistry with Ray-Ray McCloud was also on display when the quarterback threw a 25-yard ball to the right sideline before the receiver was anywhere in sight. McCloud easily grabbed the ball and got both feet on the ground well before going out of bounds.

Darnold also had his share of eye-popping plays including connecting on a 25-yard pass to tight end Cameron Latu. The rookie got separation from Sam Womack on blown coverage for a huge gain during 7-on-7 work.

The five-year veteran play caller also showed his chemistry with Brandon Aiyuk several times including a touchdown pass to the right corner of the end zone during red zone 7-on-7 work.

Allen was not left out of the quarterback highlight reel of plays. The Arkansas product threaded the needle connecting with Danny Gray through triple coverage during 7-on-7 drills. Another successful pass to the speedy wideout was made on a crossing route while being covered by Deommodore Lenoir.

That completion was one of very few allowed by the third-year defensive back who has been making several pass breakups throughout OTAs.

Another defensive player who stood out was Clelin Ferrell who signed with the club during free agency. Without a true pass rush, because players are not wearing pads, the former No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft was still constantly in the backfield during 11-on-11 drills on Wednesday.

The Clemson star was wreaking so much havoc on the offensive line that his defensive teammates all came over to congratulate him.

Of course, this list would not be complete without details about the 49ers' No. 99 overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, kicker Jake Moody. The rookie made several kicks throughout OTAs and minicamp including an ugly line drive that coach Kyle Shanahan thought should have been blocked by a defender.

The Michigan product made up for the low-flying ball with his most impressive successful attempt that sailed through the goalposts from approximately 60 yards out. Rightfully, Moody raised his arms in celebration after the officials signaled it was good. That kick cleared the goalposts by at least another few yards indicating that the 49ers have likely found their kicker for several seasons to come.

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