Sakamoto: 49ers OG Joshua Garnett Shines In Team’s 1st Rookie Practice, OG Fahn Cooper Coming Along

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Road Grader. Mauler. Villain. Pick your poison, as they are one of the same, when it comes to labeling San Francisco 49ers rookie first-round pick (No. 28) OG Joshua Garnett. A chew you up and spit you out kind of player, Garnett wasted little time displaying his nasty-mean streak for the 49ers beat writers.

“You’re going to get a tough son of a gun. He’s physical. He’s nasty,” Stanford HC David Shaw said moments after Garnett was selected. And boy, Coach Shaw was not playing around.

During the 49ers first of many rookie practices, Garnett easily showed off the strength, power, and toughness that NFL scouts coveted. This was first evident in the team’s individual drills. A featured drill that has the player first work on their hand-placement (inside chest plate of opposing player) while transitioning into rolling their hips forward to generate needed power – the offensive lineman then finishes strong with an in-line drive block downfield.

For comparison purposes, just watch my video above and you can see the big difference in Garnett from teammates OT John Theus and converted defensive lineman turned OL Alex Balducci.

However, run-blocking was never Garnett’s weakness but rather his strength. It’s his inability to hold up in pass-sets on passing downs that have the 49ers coaching staff worried. The 49ers are slowly getting the rookies acclimated to their surroundings, so it’s unsure whether or not the team worked on pass-pro when closed off to media.

Next we have fifth-round pick (No. 174) OG Fahn Cooper. To me, he is the wild-card. He will surely make the 53-man roster. Why? Because he has high-potential and just enough versatility to play four positions (excluding center). 

During today’s practice, 49ers OLC Pat Flaherty had another opportunity to work with Cooper. He did it at his Ole Miss Pro Day and Coach Flaherty used many of the same drills today. During the hand-placement drill, Cooper displayed violent hands that earned high-praise from the 49ers OLC. Aside from that you can tell he’s been working on generating power through his hips based on his finish at the end – so it’s encouraging to note his work ethic throughout the draft process.

But to play a little devil’s advocate here, I still believe Cooper has a long way to go especially in pass-sets. We have to keep things in perspective. This is rookie minicamp and many of the team’s veterans are not here. Any little thing that stands out from one rookie to the next will need to be significant. Because, let’s face it, as a veteran with NFL experience you already have the inside track.

As the 49ers try to shore up one of their weakest links, I will keep you updated on their progress as the offensive line will surely be a point of emphasis for me.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.