The 49ers Take Minnesota: Takeaways From First Joint Practice

Aug 17, 2022, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:19 pm
SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 12: Nate Sudfeld #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a 39-yard touchdown ...
SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 12: Nate Sudfeld #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a 39-yard touchdown during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi's Stadium on August 12, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Packers 28-21. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

It’s that time of the year football fans! No, we’re still a few weeks away from the start of the regular season. Instead, it’s that time of the preseason when teams travel cross-country to hold joint practices with one another.

This year, the San Francisco 49ers travel to Minnesota to join the Vikings for joint practices Wednesday and Thursday, prior to the two teams playing Saturday afternoon. The Red & Gold have a few personal connections to the North Star State, including their young starting QB Trey Lance, a native Minnesotan. Lance was raised only three hours from the Vikings’ practice facility in Marshall, Minnesota. The homecoming will have to wait until the offseason, however, as the coaching staff and the young QB were locked in at practice Wednesday.

Danny Gray’s Speed

Speed dominates in the NFL and the Red & Gold may have found their new burner in rookie WR Danny Gray.

Gray has looked the part through training camp and the preseason, continuing that trend Wednesday when he burned former all-pro cornerback Patrick Peterson for a 65-yard touchdown.

The former SMU Mustang posted an eye-opening 4.33 40-time at the NFL combine, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see him outrun his man. In fact, Gray was almost too fast as Lance actually under-threw him on the pass, having to slow down ever so slightly to make the catch.

The 49ers haven’t had a speed receiver like this since Marquise Goodwin, hopefully opening more space underneath for Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel. Don’t be surprised to see Gray out there in a prominent role in week 1 in Chicago.

Backup DBs Torched By Star Wideouts

Look when you have starting cornerbacks out due to injuries, coverage is going to be an issue. That being said, the Vikings stars torched the young 49ers’ DBs Wednesday, getting their routes and throws off with precision. The 49ers were very grabby during 1-on-1s, according to reports, drawing numerous pass interference calls throughout the session.

Despite the lackluster day, the team still came up with their 18th pick of training camp, as backup safety George Odum watched Kirk Cousins loft a ball to Dalvin Cook, jumping in front of the pass before going out of bounds. Rookie nickel back Samuel Womack III also had a nice pass breakup in 1 v. 1s, according to sources.

Emmanuel Moseley and Charvarius Ward are on the way back from hamstring injuries, while safety Jimmie Ward will be out a little longer with a similar soft-tissue injury. The Red & Gold will have to make due for now.

Javon Kinlaw & Nick Bosa: Two Human Wrecking Balls

One area of the field that isn’t short of playmakers is the defensive line. Today’s practice featured the pairing of Nick Bosa and Javon Kinlaw, constantly terrorizing the Vikings’ O-lineman.

Look at the sheer power of these two, no wonder Lance and the offense are happy to practice against a different defense. All jokes aside, George Kittle spoke on the impact the 49ers’ defense has in practice and being happy to block someone else for a change.

“I love not blocking Nick Bosa. It’s awesome,” Kittle said with a smile.

Expect the Red & Gold to get after the quarterback frequently this season, especially if Bosa and Kinlaw start healthy.

Key Defensive Players Returning

Speaking of the defensive side of the ball, key players returned to practice Wednesday, including Sacramento native Arik Armstead, who suffered an MCL sprain on the first day of camp.

The former defensive end was a pivotal cog in the team’s defense in 2021, making the switch to the inside of the line last season. Armstead did not participate in team drills, only individual work Wednesday.

Starting CB Emmanuel Moseley also returned to practice Wednesday, dealing with a hamstring strain suffered less than 10 days ago. Shanahan laid out a timeline of three to four weeks for the D-lineman and a week for “E-Man.” His prediction is right schedule as the team looks to be relatively healthy entering the regular season.


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The 49ers Take Minnesota: Takeaways From First Joint Practice