Given all our discussion about the NFL Draft and the NFL's labor situation, I thought a little diversion in discussion was much needed. In normal years we would start discussing training camp battles in May after the draft. This year, training camp battles will be contingent upon actually having training camp. Although free agency hasn't even started and the NFL Draft is still four weeks away, I thought it could be at least a little entertaining to try and predict some of the potential position battles we'll see in August...as always, IF training camp happens in August.
I realize this is not the most accurate of exercises, but it would at least give us something to look back on and compare when we get to the eventual training camp. I haven't included every possible position battle, but rather some of the more significant battles.
This is an interesting position given the fluidity of the 49ers cornerback position. Tarell Brown seemed settled in as the third cornerback, but this offseason will impact that battle. The 49ers will be looking to re-work Nate Clements contract and it's no secret that the team will likely draft a cornerback early in the draft. The question becomes who competes for what role in 2011. There are more questions than answers at this point.
The team drafted Taylor Mays in the second round and gave him a crack at the starting strong safety. He had his moments but struggled in the transition. I have to imagine the training camp battle between Mays and Reggie Smith could be quite riveting. I mention safeties as opposed to just strong safety because free agency could impact the free safety position with Dashon Goldson. If he walked it would open things up further, but I see him back with the 49ers next year and handling the free safety job.
This all comes down to what happens with Manny Lawson. If Lawson returns to the 49ers we get to see the three person battle for playing time between Lawson, Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson. Throw in the chance for a Von Miller or Robert Quinn (among many other options) and we could see a whole lot of battling in camp.
The 49ers won't be losing anybody of significance in their wide receivers. More intriguing will be the return of Dominique Zeigler, who is recovering from a torn ACL. The 49ers are filled with young wide receivers and it remains to be seen who will emerge in the new offense. This position shows the difficulty in trying to figure out these position battles this particular offseason. The 49ers likely won't see a whole lot of changes to their group of wide receivers, and yet given the changing offense we still have no idea what will happen at the position. MIchael Crabtree would seem to be the guy they'll build around with Josh Morgan as the number two, but even that is not set in stone with a new offensive scheme.
Alex Smith......David Carr.....Player X??????????????