What do you get when you take one “annoying” linebacker, a wide receiver on the potential brink of greatness, a revamped secondary and a young QB? You get the first four days of 49ers training camp. Before the pads come on Monday, let’s take a look at this week’s highlights.

Fred Warner and Brandon Aiyuk

LB Fred Warner likes to be a little chirpy on the practice field. That chirpiness has been directed at third-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to start training camp.

“Fred is annoying,” Aiyuk said earlier this week. “…It’s just we’re all competitors. That defense…that’s cream of the crop. And to go against those guys, we had to bring it every single day.”

Warner has his reasons for being in Aiyuk’s ear, and Aiyuk knew it was coming.

“With Brandon, I chose him out…and I’ll say why,” Warner said. “I think he’s ready to make that next step…[E]ver since he’s gotten here in the last couple of years, I’ve kind of gotten after him a little bit around the locker room and around the building, because I know how much he has in him. And I know if I nag him a little bit, he’s going to start getting sick and tired of that and start to hold his own. I like what I see out of BA. He works super hard and he’s starting to really gain that mindset of knowing that he’s the guy and he’s capable. And I’m just trying to get the best out of him.”

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With no Deebo Samuel in team drills, Aiyuk has been – and very well could continue to be – the uncontested WR1 of camp. He’s made plays and been consistent, with quarterbacks Trey Lance and Nate Sudfeld looking downfield for No. 11. On Saturday, Aiyuk came down with an impressive catch on great coverage from CB Charvarius Ward.

“I’m just trying to get everyone battle ready,” Warner said. “When you get down to it, there’s a lot of games where it comes down to one or two scores. You want to be able to look across and think, this is nothing, I’ve been going against the best all training camp. So now you go out there and you have extreme confidence knowing that you’re prepared.”

Charvarius Ward and the Revamped Secondary

What a difference a corner makes. 2021 was a rough one for the 49ers secondary. A Week 1 injury to cornerback Jason Verrett left the team somewhat scrambling. Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley battled injuries all season, and rookies Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir were thrown into the fire.

San Francisco had the dubious honor of leading the NFL in pass-interference penalties, allowed the fourth-highest completion percentage, had the fifth-fewest interceptions with nine and had the third-fewest pass breakups. Well, they do say breaking up is hard to do.

Enter Charvarius Ward, the $40 million man San Francisco signed in March to help fix their corner woes. So far, it’s looking like a good investment.

“He’s come in and done exactly everything we’ve asked him to do,” said 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. “He’s competitive, he competes every day. He’s always challenging the guys across from him, challenging the guys in the room. So, it has raised our competition level in the DB room and I’m happy to have that. The more competition, I think the better all those guys get, so that’s what Charvarius has done. He’s raised the level of competition in there and guys know they have to step up, rise to his level.”

The defense has a total of 10 interceptions to start camp and four of them Saturday. One from Ward, one from Warner and two from Tarvarius Moore. GM John Lynch came over to Ward for a congratulatory hand slap after his.

Asked to describe Ward, Lance said, “Super talented, and he knows it, man. I mean the way he carries himself around the locker room: a natural leader, just a guy that the guys gravitate towards, for sure. And on the field, obviously, you can see what he does.”

Ward is batting away passes, breaking them up and putting his teammates in position to create turnovers. And if iron sharpens iron, corners sharpen corners.

“I’m really excited and happy about the unit that we have,” said Ryans. “The guys we have back there with, with [Ward], with [Emmanuel Moseley], Jimmie [Ward], [Talanoa Hufanga], [DB Tarvarius Moore], all those guys have done a great job. They’re off to a really good start. And all we’re looking for out of those guys is to continue to compete and continue to get better each and every day. And if they do that when we open the season up, we’ll be very happy with where those guys will be.”

As far as Moseley is concerned, he’s come to training camp healthy and sharp.

“E-Man has continued to grow and develop,” Ryans said. “He’s one of the hardest working guys we’ve had, so all throughout the spring practices, OTAs and mini-camp, throughout the summer and even now you can see the work that E-Man has put in while we’re all away. You can see that he’s ready to go. He’s been doing a great job, taking care of his body, looks like he’s gotten bigger, added some weight, looks stronger…[H]e’s just been consistent. And that’s all we ask of all our guys, just continue to be as consistent as they can be. And E-Man is definitely one of those guys who is, right now, at the top of his game.”

Trey Lance

The double-edged sword of training camp is a defense creating turnovers means the offense is creating them. But, that’s what training camp is for.

“I thought he had a really good day the second day and yesterday, I think he had two picks and both of them, I was very happy with the throws,” Shanahan said of QB Trey Lance. “There’s something we have to get on the same page with wideouts on and that’s what camp is for, letting it rip. And when the guy doesn’t do what you’re expecting, that’s what happens, but when you don’t let it rip and you say, because I wasn’t sure what he was going do. That’s when the guy running the route doesn’t learn either, so I loved those two decisions.”

Lance agrees with his head coach.

“We’re going one day at a time, just trying to get better every single day,” Lance said after day two of practice. “We know that our defense is really good, but I mean, three turnovers, one turnover is, is too many. But just because we have one turnover, I thought we turned the page really well. I thought the next few reps, for all of us, after our turnovers we turned it around really quick, which I think is, is a bigger part than not throwing picks at all.”

The pads come on Monday and the 49ers first preseason game is less than two weeks away. Who’s ready for football?



Tracy Sandler

Tracy Sandler

I created Fangirl Sports Network as a place for female sports fans to follow their favorite teams with content and coverage that speaks directly to females. It started with one and then eight and now 32 NFL Fangirls and 15 NBA Fangirls.