49ers minicamp, Day 1: Checking in on George Whitfield, 49ers cornerbacks, and punt returners

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up Day 1 of minicamp, and while there was not much happening there, we have a few things to note.

The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their first day of minicamp, and my venture back to the West Coast got off to a somewhat less than exciting start. Practice was actually pretty low key for the most part. It was nice to get out in the sun, so I suppose I can only complain so much!

The 49ers are still without Alex Boone and Vernon Davis at camp. The team ran some 2-minute drill work, and Adam Snyder got some first team right guard snaps. Joe Looney had gotten a lot of them before, but the team mixed it up a bit today. The preseason depth chart will give us more information on this if Boone is still holding out at that point.

The most interesting part of practice was observing coaching intern George Whitfield work on technique with Josh Johnson and Kory Faulkner. He observed the other quarterbacks as well at times, but his most extensive one-on-one time appeared to be with those two. I can't go into many details on the drills, but it looked to be about handspeed. Whitfield is only in town through the preseason, but he brings a little something extra that could help the quarterbacks improve as a group.

Speaking of the quarterbacks, Coach Harbaugh mentioned that the backup QB role was an open competition. Blaine Gabbert and Josh Johnson have the most NFL experience, McLeod Bethel-Thompson has spent the most time with the 49ers, and Kory Faulkner was more or less hand-picked by Harbaugh. I think Gabbert probably claims it, but he also could just not improve enough for it to matter. His biggest advantage is having a guaranteed contract for this year.

The 49ers cornerbacks showed some good work at practice. Darryl Morris seemed to get worked into the first team nickel mix at times late in practice. I am really excited to see what he gets into when training camp arrives. There is a significant opportunity in front of him this year. Perrish Cox has more experience in the slot role, and with Ward not 100 percent, maybe the team will want a veteran presence around. But Morris is a guy to watch.

The 49ers did some special team work, with LaMichael James and Perrish Cox getting a fair amount of punt return work. I couldn't quite tell if Bruce Ellington, or anybody else, was getting work in the return game, but I saw a lot of James and Cox. I still think the 49ers end up dealing LMJ if they find someone they think can be a reliable option.

All in all, not the most exciting of days, but a day at 49ers practice is a lot better than most other ways of making a living! If you have any specific questions, feel free to drop them in the comments. I can't promise good answers, but I can try. Like I said, the practice itself was pretty low key. They ran some 2-minute drill offense, but it was not overly pretty. They ran some goal line work. I think the most useless thing to analyze in non-contact minicamp is goal line rushing attempts. It's strictly about knowing your assignments, and the end result has limited use. So, I did learn that today!

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