The 49ers’ defense has been absolutely throttling the offense so far through the early stages of camp, and that trend continued again on Saturday.
I picked five players from the defensive side of the ball who stood out and included a little bit about what they did during the team portion of practice that got them on the list.
1. Nick Bosa
Bosa is in as good of shape as he has been since entering the NFL, and he looks like a man on a mission as he ramps up for his second year removed from an ACL tear that prematurely ended his 2020 season.
I counted three sacks today for Bosa during the team portion of practice, with a couple of pressures and backside pursuits against the run as well. Bosa appears to be locked in early, and I empathize with any offensive lineman that is tasked with staying in front of him.
Mike McGlinchey got welcomed back quickly to the team period, with his first two reps of training camp in 11-on-11’s coming against Bosa on the right side. Bosa peeled off McGlinchey on the first play to record a sack on Trey Lance on a naked boot to the right side off of a play fake.
Bosa then followed that up with a sack on a three-step drop. The only time Bosa didn’t look like he was in complete control in this practice was during his singular rep against Trent Williams. I’m looking forward to seeing the battle between those two superstars once the pads come on.
2. Tarvarius Moore
Moore continues to bounce back nicely in his first training camp since suffering a torn Achilles last June. Moore had two interceptions on the day and displayed great range while playing as the single high safety.
The 49ers seem intent on running a considerable amount of three safety sets and having Moore cover a lot of range on the back end allows them to utilize Talanoa Hufanga in a lurk/robber role and/or kick Jimmie Ward down into the slot. Seeing Moore play with the amount of burst that he has displayed thus far is an encouraging sign.
3. Fred Warner
Warner was one of the best players on the field today, displaying an uncanny knack for eliminating any short to intermediate routes over the middle of the field in the passing game.
Warner also recorded an interception against the first-team offense, jumping into the throwing lane as the hook defender to intercept a Trey Lance pass between the numbers.
Warner is playing at an extremely high level, and it feels like he knows what is coming from the offense before the offense itself does. He is an All-Pro, so it likely comes as no surprise, but Warner looks to be picking up where he left off to close out the 2021 season.
Kinlaw looked as explosive as I have seen him since last season, and he appears to be pretty much all the way back from a knee injury that cut his 2021 season short. He displayed great power on a couple of pass-rushing reps during 11 on 11s’, including a rep where he utilized the long arm to drive Daniel Brunskill back from the zero technique.
Kinlaw was also noticeably juiced while on the sideline and with teammates, bringing an energy to the field that was seemingly elevated than I had seen the first couple of practices. Kinlaw is poised to be a major part of this 49ers defense in 2022, and all signs point to him being ready to roll for week 1.
5. Charvarius Ward
Ward recorded another interception during today’s practice, showing tremendous closing speed on a play where it appeared that Ray-Ray McCloud had him beat by a step. Ward has flat-out been the best player through four days of camp, showing a level of ability and consistency that likely has the 49ers brass salivating over the kind of potential he brings to this already loaded defense.