The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up day two of minicamp, and the @49ers Twitter account tweeted out this fun Instagram video. It features Patrick Willis running some drills during the individual workout portion of practice.
Vic Fangio spoke with the media before the practice session, and he was able to address the Mike vs. Jack position:
Can you explain the fundamental differences between the Mike and Jack linebacker positions?
“Well, there’s not a lot of difference as far as physically going. To me, if you’re an inside linebacker, you’re an inside linebacker. Doesn’t matter if you’re the Mike or the Jack. Where the differences come in is there are some different assignments. And if you’re playing one, you focus on those assignments. Those particular assignments come up more often than they do for the other position and vice versa. So, we’ve been working [LB Patrick] Pat [Willis] at Mike so he can be more interchangeable moving forward, if that’s the best avenue we want to go down. So, he’s more capable of playing both.”
Is Mike the strong side, strong inside?
“The Mike lines up to the tight end side.”
Is the Jack more covered so you can run more?
“Part of it, part of it. But in some cases no, in some ways yes. And more so in the nickel stuff when you move to that package.”
There has been some confusion about the Mike and Jack roles, so it's helpful to get some clarification from Fangio. He didn't go into a ton of details on assigments, but he gave us a much clearer answer than we had before.
The 49ers have position battles up and down the roster, and the inside linebacker position is as interesting as any of them. Patrick Willis is starting at one side, and then it's a competition for the second spot. Michael Wilhoite is currently looking like the starter opposite Willis, but Chris Borland seems to be having a solid offseason workout program. We'll need to see what happens when live contact begins, but there seems to be some optimism about Borland.
Nick Moody and Shayne Skov are in the mix for ILB work as well. Moody has special teams experience, while Skov is starting from scratch. My guess is the team will try and slip Skov to the practice squad, but it's too early to tell for certain. The 49ers will likely see a lot of players claimed off waivers after final roster cuts. It will be interesting to see how many of the ILBs are in that group. Even if Michael Wilhoite or Chris Borland takes a firm hold of the second ILB positions, the 49ers will need a solid third option while NaVorro Bowman is on the PUP list. Patrick Willis seemingly gets nicked up every year. He doesn't miss a lot of games, but he ends up playing in a cast, or being a little bit hampered. The 49ers will need the depth to cover themselves in case Willis gets hurt.