San Francisco 49ers Training Camp: Week 1 Stock Report

Grant Cohn@@grantcohnFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2015

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp: Week 1 Stock Report

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    One player on the San Francisco 49ers whose stock has yet to climb is quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

    He came into training camp hyped after spending the first part of the offseason at EXOS training facility in Phoenix working to shorten his release, improve his touch and his ability to go through progressions.

    The day before training camp started, free safety Eric Reid said Kaepernick has improved his touch, and strong safety Antoine Bethea said Kaepernick is doing a better job of not telegraphing his passes—high praise.

    But Kaepernick hasn’t shown those improvements so far during training camp team drills. He still throws short passes extremely hard and still locks onto his primary receiver.

    On Tuesday, he telegraphed a quick pass to wide receiver Quinton Patton. Cornerback Shareece Wright read Kaepernick’s body language, broke early on the throw, picked it off and returned it for a touchdown. It was the second day in a row Kaepernick had thrown a pick-six and the third day in a row he had thrown an interception.

    But it’s early. Kaepernick still has six more practices to improve his stock before the preseason begins.

    Here is the rest of the 49ers’ stock report for Week 1 of training camp.

Stock Up: CB Shareece Wright, 5th Season

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Last season, Pro Football Focus ranked Shareece Wright 105th out of 108 NFL cornerbacks who played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps.

    Take that ranking with a grain of salt. Among cornerbacks who played at least 800 snaps last season, Wright was one of six who gave up 41 or fewer catches, according to Pro Football Focus.

    The other five corners were Vontae Davis (31 catches allowed), Richard Sherman (31 catches allowed), Demetrius McCray (33 catches allowed), Chris Culliver (37 catches allowed) and Darrelle Revis (41 catches allowed).

    That's decent company.

    So far during training camp, Wright has been playing left cornerback—the spot generally reserved for the defense’s No. 1 cornerback. And he’s been playing like a No. 1 cornerback. By my count he has given up only two catches through four days of team drills.

Stock Down: S Jimmie Ward, 2nd Season

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    In Round 1 of the 2014 draft, the Niners took former Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward not to play safety, but to play slot cornerback.

    And they made him the starting slot cornerback right away. Through the first nine games of the 2014 season, he allowed a passer rating of 134.3, according to Pro Football Focus. Then he broke his foot Week 10 and spent the final seven games on the injured reserve list.

    He still doesn’t seem 100 percent healthy. He participates during warm-ups and individual drills, but the coaches hold him out of seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 team drills.

    In his absence, sixth-year cornerback Tramaine Brock has taken the first-team reps at slot cornerback. Monday afternoon he intercepted a pass intended for slot receiver Anquan Boldin.

    If Brock continues to play well in the slot, Ward may lose his role in the defense.

Stock Up: OLB Ahmad Brooks, 9th Season

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Veteran outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, 31, earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl in January of 2014.

    A few months later he showed up to training camp overweight and out of shape. By Week 11 the Niners removed him from the nickel defense and replaced him with 21-year-old rookie Aaron Lynch. Then Brooks missed a defensive meeting Week 14, and the Niners benched him for the entire game that Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

    This offseason Brooks seemed like a candidate to get cut. But the Niners held on to him. and he showed up to OTAs in terrific shape.

    He’s still in terrific shape. Almost every day of training camp he seems to throw an offensive lineman onto his back during one-on-one pass-rushing drills. Now Brooks seems like a lock to start at outside linebacker opposite Aldon Smith next season.

Stock Down: OLB Aaron Lynch, 2nd Season

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    Twenty-two-year-old outside linebacker Aaron Lynch missed almost all of OTAs and minicamp this offseason with a pulled hamstring. When he showed up to training camp, he seemed overweight—much bigger than last season.

    Lynch has not yet participated in team drills. The 49ers allow him to stretch and warm up with the other outside linebackers but make him do conditioning on a side field when the offense and defense play against each other.

    The more time Lynch misses in August, the more chances Ahmad Brooks will get to win the starting job. So far Brooks is making the most of his opportunity. Lynch may have picked a bad year to come to camp out of shape.

Stock Up: ILB Nick Moody, 3rd Season

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    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    NaVorro Bowman will replace retired inside linebacker Chris Borland in the 49ers’ starting lineup—that’s clear. But it’s not so clear who will replace the retired Patrick Willis.

    Michael Wilhoite seemed like the favorite to replace Willis when the offseason began. Wilhoite has been in the league four seasons, and he started 16 games last season.

    But he isn’t good. Pro Football Focus gave him a minus-5.6 grade last season. The Niners probably would welcome an upgrade.

    They may have one—third-year inside linebacker Nick Moody. He’s been starting next to Bowman during training camp because Wilhoite is on the non-football injury list with a hamstring injury.

    And Moody has played well. On Sunday he dove and intercepted a pass in the flat intended for tight end Vance McDonald, and on Tuesday he recorded two sacks as a blitzer during team drills.

    All quotations and practice observations obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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