5 Questions San Francisco 49ers Must Answer During Training Camp
Questions That Must Be Answered During Training Camp
As the San Francisco 49ers get started in full on the July 24 as non-rookie players report, the team will know what it has and what to expect when it comes to a number of players and positions. But like all 32 teams in the NFL, the 49ers are far from knowing fully what they have and what to expect from certain players and positions.
With training camp set to get underway, some of the questions that Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff will need answers to are what will be the progression of their young starting quarterback? How and whom establishes himself as the main back-up at running back? After Anquan Boldin, who will establish themselves as the No. 2, 3 and 4 wide receivers? Also, who among the five cornerbacks currently on the roster steps up and makes a legitimate claim to be a starter? These are the principal questions that need answers during 49ers training camp.
Colin Kaeperinick Taking Next Step
Colin Kaepernick heads into his third training camp as a 49ers player, but unlike the first two when he went in as the backup, Kaepernick will enter this training camp as the starting quarterback. After having a sensational half a season as a starting quarterback in 2012, Kaepernick will be under a microscope here in 2013. During training camp, Kaepernick will have to show that he is working on and progressing on taking the next step in his development to being considered one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. During camp, Kaepernick will have to show that he is progressing as a passer from the pocket and his ability to be able to make his progressions as a passer. Showing strides in these departments will mean that it will make it hard for teams to focus solely in his running ability.
Who Will Be The No. 2 RB
Frank Gore has been an integral part of the 49ers offense from the time he was drafted. Gore has been nothing short of a workhorse over the years for the 49ers and as a result, he is now approaching that stage of his career where serious concern of wear and tear become a factor. With that in mind, the need to reduce Gore's carries during the season so he can be fresh and a productive runner later in the season is ever more important.
With that in mind, the battle for who will be Gore's main backup becomes an interesting one to watch and follow during training camp. LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter come into training camp as the two players battling for the main backup running back role. Both were productive when they got to play last season with Hunter serving as the main backup early last season and James coming in to be the backup after Hunter went down with a season-ending surgery. While both are capable, it is clear whoever does best to impress the coaching staff will be the backup and get the second most carries and touches after Gore.
Who Starts At Nose Tackle
Despite having lost Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois in free agency, the 49ers were able to add and improve the depth of the defensive line position and, in particular, the nose tackle position. Despite the departures of those two players, the 49ers re-signed Ian Williams, who saw little action the past few seasons, they signed Glenn Dorsey off free agency and drafted Quinton Dial.
With three nose tackles on the roster and the chance that all three could see playing time given that two of the three offer defensive coordinator Vic Fangio some versatility as far where they line up, the main question then will be who ends up being the starter. The reason this is critical is that the player who ends up being named the starting nose tackle will surely get to play more than half the snaps. While the nose tackle position is not the most crucial one of need for a standout player on the defense, the player who best is able to demonstrate he can serve as an absorber for the linebackers to make plays, will get be named starter.
Who Are The WR's After Boldin?
Once Michael Crabtree went down, much was made of whom will step up at the wide receiver position to join Anquan Boldin as starters come the start of the season. In addition, the team has guys like Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham who are coming off season-ending injuries during 2012, who play the position and given the uncertainties surrounding their health and status for the start of the season, then the questions of who becomes the second, third and fourth wide receivers arise. During training camp, the focus will also be on seeing if second-year player A.J. Jenkins is able to continue his impressive offseason of workouts and carry that over into training camp and preseason in order to win himself a spot. He will be pushed by rookie Quinton Patton whom through his attitude and work ethic has caught the eye and as a result, has given himself a realistic chance of getting significant playing time.
Who's Playing At CB?
The cornerback position is without a doubt the one position on both offense and defense which is the biggest question mark surrounding it going into training camp. After the team traded for cornerback Eric Wright on Friday, the team now have five players who realistically can start at the position. While the acquisition of Wright is a low risk move for the 49ers, it just confirms that things are far from settled at the position where there are still more questions than answers.
The main question that will need to be answered during training camp is who emerges as the starting cornerbacks come Week 1. Clearly, each of the five cornerbacks on roster now will have to work hard during training camp to demonstrate they are a starter, but in addition to that, another question that has been created is, will Carlos Rogers, a starter for the past two seasons, be on the roster come the end of training camp given that his salary cap number is quite high and now on the roster are several cheaper and equally skilled options?