FanPost

An early look at 49ers camp battles

Thearon W. Henderson

Fooch's Note: As Brother Girth points out below, we'll be going into a lot more detail on each training camp battle. But for now, feel free to list your winners. If you think this is missing roster battles, or you think players should be situated in another way, feel free to let us know in the comments.

I tried making a 53 man roster, but it's just too early (though Fooch made a good effort). There are way too many questions going into camp. I did isolate where the camp battles are really taking place, however, so I am passing along my thoughts and asking for your input. Who do you think is going to win each position battle? I am not going into too much detail as I'm sure Fooch and team will detail these out much further in the coming months.

If you list your winners by number then I will try and tabulate. For example, write "#6) Gore" and I will know you expect him to remain the starter next year.

The battles:

#1) Starting Center - Kilgore vs Marcus Martin

Both will be signed for the next 4 years. Martin appears a little weak, but has long arms and that can be fixed. Kilgore was the 6th lineman in jumbo packages, so if Martin wins out they wouldn't have to change that component of our offense.

#2) Backup Center/Guard - [loser of Kilgore/Martin] vs Looney vs Seymour

The loser of this battle becomes inactive on game day. Kilgore beat out Looney last year, but Looney did look ok when Iupati was out injured. The winner of this battle might have to play in jumbo packages depending on the backup tackle battle. Ryan Seymour is an option here also, but since he has PS eligibility I think he starts out in 3rd place.

#3) Backup Tackle - Snyder vs Jonathan Martin

Last year Boone slid over to tackle and Snyder came in at guard, but the winner of this battle really has to be able to play both positions in case we lost both tackles in a game. If Martin looks capable as a backup guard, then he is under contract for two years versus Snyder's one. Snyder has 250k in dead money and we give up a 7th if we keep Martin, both things that lean toward Snyder, but having a capable 3rd tackle on the roster leans toward Martin.

#4) TE3 - Celek vs Carrier

Carrier was promoted from the practice squad late last year and saw 40 snaps on offense. There is clearly something the coaches see here. Carrier is also under contract for 2 years versus Celek's one.

#5) RB2 - Hunter vs Lattimore vs Hyde

It's crazy that we brought in another RB to compete here. I love it. If Hyde loses out he will probably be the short yardage back. If Hunter can't beat out Lattimore, then he will be cut/traded.

I think Hunter had his chance to sign an extension and chose not to. I don't blame him if he truly thinks he can be a starter in the league. Assuming we stay healthy then some team will have a camp injury and Hunter will be floated up for a late pick, so it's really Lattimore vs Hyde, but you never know.

#6) Frank Gore vs Father Time

This is the Frank Gore show as long as he shows he still has enough burst to keep going. He will lose reps to the winner of RB2, and Hyde will be our short yardage guy, but Frank is competing with himself.

I do think Frank will be asked to take a pay cut, and he will, but not until after Kap signs his long term deal. We don't want to show that cap space during negotiations. If Gore refuses to negotiate, then that may save Hunter.

#7) Kick Returner - LMJ vs Ellington vs Cox vs Patton

I didn't include LMJ on the RB2 competition because I think that ship has sailed. If he wants to stay on the team it will be as a kick returner. Unfortunately, he seems to lack the depth perception needed to judge punt trajectories. He might still get better, but he's already had two years. I think he will be in the same boat as Hunter, traded during training camp to some team that gets hit with the injury bug.

Last season I liked what I saw from Patton as a returner, so I am forcing his name into this discussion.

#8) Nickel CB - Ward vs Wright vs Cox

Ward is a lock to make the team, but not necessarily to start. If Ward does not win this job, then Baalke is going to lean towards Wright, but Harbaugh put Cox ahead of him in the playoffs last year.

#9) Backup CB - Cook vs Wright vs Cox vs Morris vs Dontae Johnson vs Kenneth Acker

I thought of Morris as a candidate for nickel, but Baalke did not mention him when talking about who Ward would be competing with so I am listing Morris here. Every CB will get a shot at nickle, so it doesn't mean it still can't happen.

Cook and Wright are both seasoned CBs, but both are one 1 year deals. Same as Cox. At some point we need some guys with longer term contracts just to keep some stability at the position. Culliver is on the last year of his deal, and may not get an extension with his off field issues. Assuming we keep 5 CBs, we ideally need 3 with multi-year contracts. Brock, Morris and Johnson would work. Add in Culliver, and that leaves Cook, Wright, Cox, and Acker battling for the last CB spot. Resigning Culliver would open up two spots and probably expose Morris. Unless Acker does something amazing he is going to the PS.

#10) Backup Safety - Spillman vs Dahl

The 49ers website lists Ward as a DB, but I think Ward eventually gets slotted in as a safety, so Spillman or Dahl will be out of a job. Dahl is cheaper and has two years under contract, and looks better than Spillman on the field, but Spillman is one of our special teams studs.

Dahl is officially listed at SS, which is where Ward will probably be listed at, but I think Dahl came in for Reid last year. Our safeties are somewhat interchangeable.

#11) Backup DT/DE - TJE vs Dobbs vs Ramsey vs Okoye

Carradine is a slam dunk for one of the backup positions, so I am not including him here. He may still be a bust, but he will get at least 1 full season to prove himself. Ramsey was drafted late enough that he will be a PS option. He has such a bad injury history that he will probably clear waivers. I think Okoye is destined for the PS also, just because of his rawness, so its really TJE vs Dobbs.

#12) Special Teams Ace - Ventrone vs Osgood

Forget positions, coach Brad Seely gets 1 special teams guy to solidify special teams play. Last year both these guys fit on the roster, but this year I don't believe there will be enough room. Both guys are old special teams studs. Ventrone is Seely's guy but Osgood was really good last year.

#13) Starting NT - Dorsey vs Williams

Both guys will make the team, but who gets the starting nod here? Williams won the job before getting hurt, and as a backup Dorsey can cover all 3 DL positions, but Williams will be around next year so keeping him healthy will be a benefit.

#14) Inactive guy that we hold onto to develop

Too many names to list here, but typically a 53 man roster has enough room for 1 player to be signed and then just be inactive every week. It could be a QB3, TE4, or a 3rd NT (e.g. Dial). It's that player that skews the position count for that position but we are stashing for the future. Just list the name of the guy that you think makes the roster even though there is no place for him.

After posting, I realized I didn't call out WR, so adding:

#15) WR3 - Johnson vs Patton vs Ellington vs ?

Boldin and Crabs are starting. In my head, I penciled in Stevie Johnson in at the #3 wide out but you never know. If you think one of the new guys can win out then please add to the vote.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to add to this list or propose adjustments. If enough people take the time to vote when commenting then I will tabulate the result.

#1) Starting Center - Kilgore vs Marcus Martin
#2) Backup Center/Guard - [loser of Kilgore/Martin] vs Looney vs Seymour
#3) Backup Tackle - Snyder vs Jonathan Martin
#4) TE3 - Celek vs Carrier
#5) RB2 - Hunter vs Lattimore vs Hyde
#6) Frank Gore vs Father Time
#7) Kick Returner - LMJ vs Ellington vs Cox vs Patton
#8) Nickel CB - Ward vs Wright vs Cox
#9) Backup CB - Cook vs Wright vs Cox vs Morris vs Dontae Johnson vs Kenneth Acker
#10) Backup Safety - Spillman vs Dahl
#11) Backup DT/DE - TJE vs Dobbs vs Ramsey vs Okoye
#12) Special Teams Ace - Ventrone vs Osgood
#13) Starting NT - Dorsey vs Williams
#14) Inactive guy that we hold onto to develop
#15) WR3 - Johnson vs Patton vs Ellington vs ?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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