49ers OTAs 2014: Position battles are high profile, but it's about a little more

Thearon W. Henderson

The 49ers head into OTAs with plenty of competition up and down the roster. But OTAs are less about figuring out where the competition stands, and more about setting the stage for training camp.

The San Francisco 49ers open up their 2014 organized team practice activities (OTAs) today, which means we're starting to get some preview content. The previews are generally focusing on players to watch and position battles to track. There is more to OTAs than that, but before I get into that, here are a few of the preview links from earlier today:

-- 49ers.com broke down Five things to watch at 49ers OTAs. They looked at Kap's boosted wide receiver corps, the cornerback competition, rookies getting their chance to shine alongside veterans, the interior offensive line and inside linebackers, and Marcus Lattimore.

-- Cam Inman focused on the wide receivers, but also had some quick thoughts on the quarterbacks, running backs, cornerbacks, offensive line, outside linebackers and inside linebackers.

-- Matt Maiocco focused on the cornerbacks. He also talked about how the lack of live contact means inside linebacker competition will take some time to develop.

-- Matt Barrows focused on injury issues and who would likely sit out OTAs.

This is all pertinent information, but with no live contact, OTAs are going to be less about advancing competition, and more about setting the stage for training camp competition.

Former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo put together a solid article breaking down the importance of OTAs. Angelo discussed how it is about establishing the foundation. Established teams (like the 49ers) can get that done a bit quicker, but all teams are trying to get everybody on the same page. The key is to be able to open training camp in position to get out of the gate quickly.

The foundation is being laid during this time. If done right, a team will have less transition issues when the season starts, allowing them to focus on mastering their schemes, executing the playbook and teaching the young players the fine details of the NFL game.

There has been remarkable consistency for the 49ers in the Jim Harbaugh era. There has been very little turnover on the coaching staff. The core of the team remains relatively stable. And even as the team makes changes on the roster, it is slow and steady. We are starting to approach a stage in which we'll see some more significant changes to the roster, but many of the replacements will have already been on the roster at least a year. There will be plenty for new starters to learn, but they'll have the necessary foundation on which to build.

I suspect we'll see some breakdown of who has improved their situation in OTAs, but in reality, we'll be left with a lot of speculation. Only so much of OTAs will be available for media to see, and the 49ers coaching staff is not exactly known for providing inside details into roster competition.

When we get into July, we'll have an assessment of the depth chart heading into training camp. We had a series of articles looking at the pre-OTA depth chart. The pre-training camp depth chart review will include some discussion on speculation about who has improved, but it will be more about what to expect in training camp rather than what we "learned" from OTAs.

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