MOBILE, Ala. - 49ers linebackers coach Johnny Holland wishes Josh Allen wasn't a late scratch from the Senior Bowl, but he still likes the group he's working with.
"We'd love him to be here working," Holland said, "but hey, we understand."
Holland and pass rush specialist Chris Kiffin worked with the defensive line prospects during their first practice. Newly hired defensive line coach Kris Kocurek did not make the trip. Both coaches spoke about the advantages of getting a hands-on opportunity with the players.
"It was awesome," Kiffin said. "It was good to see these guys work. I was excited about our group. We got guys chasing the ball, a lot of athletic guys. We'll see how they get better during the week. See how it all comes together. It was a lot of fun."
Kiffin and Holland both agreed that working with the players through the week gives them an honest sense of who they are very quickly.
"You can find out about these guys in about a day or two," Kiffin said. "Find out who they are, their work ethic, their character, all that stuff. Definitely an advantage to working with them longer."
Holland added that even on the first day you can see progress.
"I think everybody's a little nervous and just taking the drills to the field," Holland explained. "Some guys are used to playing a certain way and they are just taking what we've been teaching them, the scheme we're going to play and taking it to the field. So it's been great to see if they can pick up new techniques."
Defensive end Carl Granderson from Wyoming, was a player Holland pointed out as an example of the long, tall players in his group. Granderson is 6'5, 261 lbs.
"We got some long guys who can run," Holland said, "and look like they can get to the quarterback. They can run, they're long, tall guys. The inside guys were good too."
Ultimately, the 49ers need to generate a pass rush to be successful in 2019. That's what Holland said they are looking for.
"A guy who can rush the quarterback," Holland said. "A guy who can take stuff from the classroom and do exactly what you ask him to do. You have to be a able to adjust every week, personnel groups, formations so you see if they can learn and pick stuff up.
"It's a big transition. A lot of stuff they will do this week, they haven't seen in college, like two-back set runs, setting the edge, playing zone read that stuff."
Holland added that everyone was on good behavior today. The true test will be the effort they show once they settle in.
"The first day, everybody works hard," Holland said. "We're going to see what they really do about Thursday and Saturday."