By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on May 28, 2014
The San Francisco 49ers have had a tumultuous offseason off the field, but on the field, they're unquestionably one of the most talented teams in the NFL. Fortunately, they returned to the field this week for the beginning of OTAs. Here are five storylines to follow as the club holds offseason practices in Santa Clara.
In typical 49ers fashion, Marcus Lattimore, a supremely talented prospect who suffered two gruesome knee injuries during his collegiate career, was stashed on the roster for a redshirt season in 2013. A year later, Lattimore is finally ready to practice on a limited basis, although soreness in both legs has reportedly slowed him thus far. The 49ers have a lot of depth at running back, so Lattimore has a difficult road ahead.
USC's Marcus Martin was quite the steal for the 49ers in the third round, as some pundits thought he would garner consideration on Day 1. But at what position will Martin begin his NFL career? As one of the top centers in college football last year, he's expected to compete for the starting center spot in San Francisco, but he's also being cross trained at guard. His ceiling is high at both spots.
Star tight end Vernon Davis has been a no-show through two OTA sessions for the 49ers. The workouts are technically voluntary, but Davis is forfeiting his workout bonus by not attending. It's unclear whether Davis is unhappy about something or is simply prolonging his free time during the offseason.
Right guard Alex Boone is also skipping OTAs. Unlike Davis, however, Boone's reasoning is clear. He's dissatisfied with his current contract, which has two years remaining, and is protesting for a new one. Boone is probably worth more than his current pay, but the 49ers now have plenty of depth on their interior offensive line with promising draft choices, Marcus Martin and Brandon Thomas, in the fold.
Cornerback was thought to be a big need pre-draft in part because Chris Culliver's inability to stay healthy and out of trouble. After a promising 2012 campaign in which Culliver produced Pro Football Focus' 21st-most efficient coverage rating among qualifying corners, he's torn his ACL, sidelining him all of last season, and been charged with a felony (possession of metal knuckles). He still opened OTAs as a starter, though. Will that last?
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