Over the past three days the 49ers have added a whole host of talent both through the draft and in the post-draft free agency period. I'd imagine the signings aren't done yet, but we already have an idea of some of the young talent coming aboard later this summer. All of these additions mean we'll have plenty of training camp battles to keep an eye on. While we'll be discussion that plenty this summer, I wanted to take an initial look, a day later, at the impact some of these signings could/will have on the current roster.
Here's a quick rundown of the players acquired by the 49ers, as well as those rumored to be coming aboard (didn't include those confirmed by only one source):
OT Anthony Davis
G Mike Iupati
S Taylor Mays
LB Navorro Bowman
RB Anthony Dixon
TE Nate Byham
WR Kyle Williams
CB Phillip Adams
Undrafted free agents (confirmed by more than one source)
RB LeGarratte Blount
S Chris Maragos
KR/PR LeRoy Vann
CB Patrick Stoudamire
WR Jared Perry
QB Jarrett Brown
WR Shay Hodge
WR Scott Long
After the jump we add the new players to the existing roster and look at some of the more interesting battles...
Anthony Davis/Mike Iupati vs. Adam Snyder/David Baas
The addition of Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati obviously puts Adam Snyder and David Baas on notice. Coach Singletary indicated he thought both Davis and Iupati could be starting before the end of the season. Iupati seems closer to start-ready, but both will be doing significant battle with their current counterparts in training camp. Given that we know that, there's no need to go into much detail at this point.
After our two first round picks, we've then got Taylor Mays. At this point Mays would seem to be a safety of the future, although some folks have inquired about whether he might move down to a linebacker role. It sounds like the team is looking at him as a safety at this point, but who knows how things might change. In the 49ers defense, Dashon Goldson has indicated the safeties can be inter-changeable at times. Of course, Michael Lewis was almost entirely suited for run-support, so it's hard to see much inter-changing on pass plays. Taylor Mays is a big hitter with some question marks about his pass support, but it sounds like he's a very coachable young kid who could improve in that area of the game.
At this point, while Mays will get snaps at safety in the preseason, if Michael Lewis is healthy, I wonder how long the team sticks with Lewis. If Mays has a solid training camp, does the team work out a possible rotation between the two of them? I'd imagine in an ideal world the 49ers would like to see Taylor Mays just blow the doors out in training camp and force the issue. However, I kind of wouldn't mind seeing a solid training camp from Mays, but Lewis retains the starting job for now. Give Mays time to develop his skills. Not that I'd turn down a great camp from Mays. I just wouldn't mind a bit of development time. After all, I remain solidly in the camp of "Michael Lewis is actually a solid safety for this team."
Backup Running Backs
The running back role was ignored through the first two days, but much action occurred the final day of the draft as the team selected Anthony Dixon in the sixth round, and then added the much-maligned LeGarrette Blount as soon as the draft was over. Dixon and Blount are two large individuals, each standing 6'0, with Dixon weighing in at 233lbs, and Blount at 240lbs. The 49ers current top two running backs weigh in at 217 (Gore) and 209 (Coffee). I believe Coffee has put on some more weight, but he's still well below Dixon and Blount.
This might end up being the most interesting positional battle in training camp. You've got Glen Coffee, last year's third round pick, and a guy who most fans had enough of even before he hit the field. He's a similar style runner to Gore and generally struggled last season. A third round pick isn't likely to get cut at this point, but he certainly better watch over his shoulder. Dixon brings an interesting mix of size and speed, and while not a speedy change of pace back, he brings a different sort of pace.
The most interesting addition is of course LeGarrette Blount. Prior to this past season, Blount was considered by some to be a first or second round talent. A sucker punch later, he goes undrafted. Whatever you think of what was clearly a bad decision, Blount is extremely talented and does not qualify as your traditional undrafted free agent. UDFAs don't usually stick on rosters, but Blount could be different.
Given all these additions, I really have no idea what to expect. Is Blount the type of guy you could sneak onto the practice squad if you're not convinced he's ready for the 53-man roster? Or maybe Dixon is that guy? I suppose Glen Coffee could get the axe, but I just don't see it happening at this point. I've been wrong before of course, so we'll just have to see come August.
Folks were generally displeased with the addition of a blocking specialist tight end in the sixth around...again. After the failed Bear Pascoe era, Nate Byham did not exactly inspire excitement. At the same time, it was some later comments by Coach Singletary that have me intrigued, and have me including him here. There was mention that Byham could see some time in an h-back and/or fullback role.
At this point, the two primary fullbacks on the roster are Moran Norris and Brit Miller. Michael Robinson has been used as a fullback as well, but generally isn't categorized as such. Is it possible Moran Norris might not make it through training camp? After re-joining the team this past season, Norris had his struggles. Brit Miller is not a high impact guy, but he had his moments and will get a chance to win some kind of job in training camp. The question is whether Nate Byham will work his way into the mix.
Over the last week or so, the team has been quite busy in adding potential return men. The 49ers first traded a 5th round pick to the Miami Dolphins for WR Ted Ginn Jr. He has struggled mightily as a receiver, but would appear to be coming in primarily for his return abilities. Then, during the draft, the team added speedy WR Kyle Williams. Of the team's eight draft picks, Williams was the only one who wouldn't qualify as a punch 'em in the nose, Singletary type of player. Williams is a burner who got a lot of work as a punt returner at Arizona State. He struggled a bit this past year in punt returns, but was very solid his junior year. Finally, the team added Florida A&M return ace LeRoy Vann as an undrafted free agent. Vann was an absolute beast as a punt returner, averaging 19.6 yards per return, second only to Mr. Irrelevant Tim Toone's 19.9 yard average.
If you've dealt a 5th for Ginn, is he guaranteed a spot on the roster? I suppose nobody is guaranteed anything, but Williams and Vann make the decision a little more interesting. Williams is a raw receiver, but he does have receiving skills. Given the excess of receivers on the roster, I'm not really sure where Williams ends up. If he can show some signs of development as a receiver, and also some skills as a returner, he might have a spot. Otherwise, it's possible he ends up on the practice squad.
Vann, on the other hand, while listed as a cornerback, is really nothing more than a return man. As important as that dimension is, would it be enough to get him a roster spot? I'd love to have a Devin Hester-type on the roster, but I just don't know if there's space.
After only one day, one can see the battle lines being drawn in the inevitable Nate Davis-Jarrett Brown war that will undoubtedly occur this summer. I honestly don't know enough about Brown at this point to make a declaration of where I sit on this subject. Nonetheless, it's going to be a hard to assess this battle in training camp because Alex Smith and David Carr will get a lot of the snaps. And with four QBs, one has to wonder how you split the playing time in preseason games. Given the year the team has invested in Nate Davis, I'd imagine he has the advantage, but a good showing by Jarrett Brown could make this especially interesting.
There are obviously plenty of other battles, but I thought I'd highlight these for now. One of the specific ones I'll address later (but you can certainly discuss now) is the #3, #4, etc wide receivers. Feel free to discuss these, or add some of your own.