NFL San Francisco 49ers

5 Positional Battles to Watch During San Francisco 49ers’ OTAs

5 Positional Battles to Watch During San Francisco 49ers' OTAs

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers are underway with their organized team activities. OTAs are just the first step in a 2014 season in which the 49ers will look to regain their Super Bowl form. If San Francisco is to have another successful season, it must first decide on a handful of positional battles across their depth chart. Here is a look at five such competitions.

5. Backup Running Back

Kendall Hunter, Carlos Hyde, Marcus Lattimore, San Francisco 49ers
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

5. Backup Running Back

Kendall Hunter, Carlos Hyde, Marcus Lattimore, San Francisco 49ers
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco has a stable of talented running backs. Frank Gore will again be the 49ers' starter, but his primary backup is still unknown. Kendall Hunter has held the role in the past, but former college standout Marcus Lattimore and the recently drafted Carlos Hyde will challenge him this year.

Projected Winner: Hyde

4. Inside Linebacker

Michael Wilhoite, Chris Borland, San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

4. Inside Linebacker

Michael Wilhoite, Chris Borland, San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

All-Pro linebacker Navarro Bowman tore his ACL in last year's NFC Championship Game, an injury that will cause him to miss a large portion of the 2014 season. The 49ers must find his replacement to pair with Patrick Willis on the inside. Michael Wilhoite is the favorite, but he will be challenged by third-round pick Chris Borland.

Projected Winner: Wilhoite

3. Center

Daniel Kilgore, Marcus Martin, San Francisco 49ers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

3. Center

Daniel Kilgore, Marcus Martin, San Francisco 49ers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers chose not to re-sign center Jonathan Goodwin this offseason, leaving them in need of a new starter at the position. Daniel Kilgore appeared to be the obvious choice to replace Goodwin. However, San Francisco used a third-round pick on center Marcus Martin from USC. The pick signals the team is not completely sold on Kilgore as the starter.

Projected Winner: Kilgore

2. 3rd Wide Receiver

Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, Bruce Ellington, San Francisco 49ers
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2. 3rd Wide Receiver

Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, Bruce Ellington, San Francisco 49ers
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers added three new players this offseason to compete for the third receiver spot. Veterans Brandon Lloyd and Stevie Johnson will be joined by rookie Bruce Ellington in one of the 49ers' most intriguing positional battles. Johnson seems poised to win the competition, but Ellington is a prototypical slot receiver with a unique set of skills.

Projected Winner: Johnson

1. Nickel Cornerback

Eric Wright, Perrish Cox, San Francisco 49ers
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

1. Nickel Cornerback

Eric Wright, Perrish Cox, San Francisco 49ers
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco's greatest strength over the past few seasons has been its defense. Yet, this season, the 49ers appear to be somewhat thin in their secondary. Eric Wright and Parrish Cox are two solid veterans who will compete for the nickel corner spot. Additionally, rookie Jimmie Ward could be asked to shift over from safety into the role.

Projected Winner: Ward