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Barrows rookie report, from The Athletic

After 10 training camp practices, there’s no doubt you’ve read a lot — too much? — about quarterback Trey Lance. But what about the team’s seven other draft picks?

Here’s a status report on Aaron Banks, Talanoa Hufanga and the others — the position they’re playing, which group they’ve been practicing with and how they’ve looked so far.

QB Trey Lance (First round, No. 3)
The Lance Hype Train hasn’t come off the rails, but it isn’t chugging along at quite the furious pace it was during the opening week of training camp.

Three things are at play: 1. Jimmy Garoppolo has looked good — better than he did to open camp — in the three most recent practices and has been more efficient than Lance in those sessions. 2. Lance and the second-team offense had trouble moving the ball in the most game-like practice to date, which came Saturday in Levi’s Stadium. 3. The defense appears to have gotten the hang of defending the read option and Lance no longer is gouging it for big chunks with his feet.

Still, the arrow remains pointed decidedly upward for the rookie, who has shown both no hiccups as far as learning Kyle Shanahan’s playbook and an ability to throw to all corners of the field.

At the very least, Lance’s solid start to camp has the 49ers feeling good about him being the top backup to start the season. Shanahan also has said that the 49ers have certain plays designed specifically for Lance and that, even if he’s not the starter, he’ll be worked into the mix during the regular season.

The next big milestone for the rookie: Saturday’s preseason opener against the Chiefs at Levi’s Stadium.

G Aaron Banks (Second round, No. 48)
On the second-team offense’s first play of 11-on-11 drills Saturday, Banks first cracked down on the nose tackle, then quickly made his way up the field to his right where he engaged with linebacker Marcell Harris and knocked Harris well out of the play. The running back trailing behind met no resistance until he was seven yards downfield.

It was a textbook snap for Banks, who at 329 pounds is one of the heaviest players on the team but who has carried the weight well early in camp. (By comparison, left tackle Trent Williams said recently he weighs 328 pounds.) Banks also did a good job in one-on-one pass protection drills earlier in practice, winning battles against veteran Maurice Hurst and second-year player Darrion Daniels.

Later in practice, however, it was a different story. Defensive tackles Hurst and Kentavius Street seemed to be constantly in the backfield against Banks and the second-string offensive line with Hurst zipping past Banks on one snap to force a throw-away by Lance and then blowing up a run by rookie Elijah Mitchell two plays later.

Neither veteran who has lined up at right guard with the first-team offense, Daniel Brunskill or Tom Compton, has flourished in practice and the team clearly wants Banks to take over that spot at some point. But until he starts showing more consistency, the 49ers seem reluctant to insert him with the top unit.

“Especially in the trenches — it’s a big jump from college to the NFL,” Banks said after a recent practice. “I’m just learning the game from the older guys and trying to get better every day.”

Banks noted that the 49ers have a deep and veteran interior defensive line, and he said he tries to ask players like Hurst what they’re seeing and thinking when they go against him.

“I think it’s good to get feedback through another lens,” he said. “So I’ll talk to him here and there.”

RB Trey Sermon (Third round, No. 88)
He’s been the most consistently good 49ers rookie since spring OTAs and has been serving as the No. 2 running back — behind Raheem Mostert — in training camp.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk said he liked Sermon’s calm, business-like demeanor, which position coach Bobby Turner has cited as well. It’s Turner, the most veteran member of Shanahan’s staff, who determines the running back pecking order and the workload for each tailback during a game. And it’s clear that Sermon has won over Turner.

The 49ers also have been pleasantly surprised by Sermon’s route-running and pass-catching ability, which he got to display early in his college career at Oklahoma but not as much last season at Ohio State. He’s shown unexpected wiggle to shake free of the 49ers’ linebackers in one-on-one drills.

Something that’s apparent when you see Sermon up close: He has very long arms — 33 and 3/8 inches. That’s a measurement more befitting of a tall defensive end (Nick Bosa’s, for instance, are 33 inches) and Sermon had the longest arms of any running back in this year’s draft. Those arms have been good for creating separation on pass routes and for hauling in passes that might not be quite on target.

CB Ambry Thomas (Third round, No. 102)
The 49ers liked both Thomas and fellow rookie cornerback Deommodore Lenoir for their toughness and durability in college, and so far both have been true to form. While other cornerbacks have been in and out of the lineup, the rookies have been on hand throughout OTAs and training camp, which of course is ideal for young players.

When training camp began, Thomas was working with the No. 2 defense, though over the last two practices he’s taken most of his repetitions with the No. 3 group (while Lenoir has worked with the second-stringers). DeMeco Ryans was asked about that shift Saturday.

“To me, it’s not a big deal,” he said. “You just want to go out, see a guy perform the technique that we’re asking them to do and do it at a consistent level. So whether you’re with the ones, twos or threes, it doesn’t matter. It’s just, how are you performing each and every day?”

The truth is that Thomas hasn’t jumped out in one way or the other yet. He hasn’t had any terrific pass defenses like starter Jason Verrett and he hasn’t been picked on the way Tim Harris was on the opening day of camp.

OT Jaylon Moore (Fifth round, No. 155)
The 49ers entered the offseason thinking they’d give Moore, who was a left tackle at Western Michigan, a healthy number of snaps at guard.

Justin Skule’s June ACL injury, however, altered Moore’s rookie-year plan. Skule was the top candidate to be the swing tackle at the time and the injury meant the team had to find another candidate.

So far the No. 1 contender has been Moore, who’s had the lion’s share of the left tackle snaps with the second-team offense this summer. Veteran Shon Coleman, who hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game since 2017 and who opted out of the 2020 season, has taken repetitions there, too.

The question at the position: Can Coleman, who turns 30 in November, return to form or do the 49ers give the swing tackle job to a rookie? They did the latter in 2019, a Super Bowl year, when Skule started eight games at tackle.

Moore looks significantly better than Skule did during his rookie training camp but still struggles at times. During one-on-one drills Saturday, he handled Davin Bellamy with ease, allowed Jordan Willis to slip past him and battled Alex Barrett to a draw. Unfamiliar with some of those names? That’s been an issue in training camp: The team’s offensive tackles aren’t going against top-level competition with Bosa, Dee Ford, Samson Ebukam and Arik Armstead missing from offense versus defense portions of practice in recent days.

CB Deommodore Lenoir (Fifth round, No. 172)
The 49ers’ new position coach, Cory Undlin, spends more time with Lenoir than anyone else, frequently pulling him aside after a drill to go over technique. When Garoppolo threw a short touchdown to George Kittle over Lenoir at the end of Saturday’s practice inside Levi’s Stadium, the play drew a huge reaction on the sideline from Undlin, who obviously didn’t like seeing his young pupil get beat.

Does Undlin’s close attention bode poorly for Lenoir? It seems like the opposite — that Undlin feels as if Lenoir is worthy of being coached hard. The 49ers love his natural aggressiveness, a good trait on a team that wants to play more press coverage this season.

It’s also worth noting that Lenoir was playing with the first-team defense on the touchdown throw to Kittle. That was due to attrition more than anything else. (Emmanuel Moseley was not yet going through full practices at the time and was on the sideline at the session’s end). Lenoir mostly has been working with the No. 3 defense but has been playing with the second string (and getting in ahead of Thomas) the last two days.

To this point, Lenoir has worked exclusively on the outside. The nickel cornerbacks have been K’Waun Williams, Mark Fields and, recently, B.W. Webb.

S Talanoa Hufanga (Fifth round, No. 180)
He’s been lining up with the second-team defense — usually along with Jared Mayden — since the beginning of training camp. When Jimmie Ward was given a rest day Sunday, however, Hufanga played with the starters, which he did a bit in OTAs as well.

Hufanga’s best day of practice may have been Friday when he made a couple of would-be tackles around the line of scrimmage. As Shanahan said after that session, the rough-and-tumble rookie tends to show up more on days when the 49ers are in full pads.

“I mean, he’s been what we’ve thought (he’d be),” Shanahan said. “He loves to run around and loves to act like Troy Polamalu out there. He’s still got a ways to go before he’s a Hall of Famer, but now he’s done a good job. He has fun. You can tell he enjoys playing football. He fits in well.”

The 49ers have had some success converting strong safeties to linebackers (Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Marcell Harris) recently and there was talk on draft day that Hufanga could have a linebacker-like role with the team. So far, he’s lined up at safety only.

RB Elijah Mitchell (Sixth round, No. 194)
Mostert’s first big role for the 49ers was as a special-teams gunner and it appears that could be Mitchell’s initial job as well. He said he never played special teams at Louisiana but has been one of the punt-coverage gunners — along with Trent Sherfield, Mayden and others — in camp so far.

Mitchell played at 215 pounds in college and said he ran a 4.5-second 40 at that weight. When he dropped nearly 15 pounds in the run-up to the draft, that 40 time improved to 4.33 seconds, and he said Sunday that’s been his speed in camp.

Mitchell usually gets his first snap with the third-string offense and he’s jockeying with veteran Wayne Gallman and JaMycal Hasty for position on the depth chart. It’s hard to judge running backs in no-tackling practices, but Mitchell appears to have nice balance and was consistently good at breaking arm tackles at Louisiana, albeit at a heavier weight.

He has an upright running style, which makes him seem taller on the practice field than his actual 5-foot-10 height. It will be interesting to see if that style, coupled with his lower weight, impacts him in the preseason.

As far as the passing game, a throw from Lance to Mitchell on Saturday went off the running back’s hands and was intercepted. However, like Sermon, he’s mostly been a consistently good pass catcher so far.

Undrafted : All four of the undrafted rookies on the roster — linebackers Justin Hilliard and Elijah Sullivan, offensive tackle Alfredo Gutierrez and receiver Austin Watkins — have been working with the third-team groups.

Hilliard has been lining up at middle linebacker while Sullivan, one of the fastest linebackers on the team, has played both weakside and strongside linebacker. Watkins looked overmatched at times during OTAs but appears more comfortable now, although he has yet to make a splash in any practices.

Another undrafted rookie, tight end Josh Pederson, was waived last week.