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Position competitions, rules as 49ers go through second set of OTAs

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The 49ers are back at OTAs this week. We look at some storylines and players to watch this week, and break down the rules once again.

The 49ers got back to work Tuesday, kicking off their second set of the OTAs. The team will be getting the work in on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and will have three days of OTAs and three days of mandatory minicamp remaining after that.

The media will have access to the 49ers practice on Wednesday. There will be media availability with defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil and various players, but we also will get some practice reports. The practices do not have pads or contact, and do not allow for one-on-one drills. However, there will be team offense vs. defense work, and that will give us an idea of who is getting work with which units.

Here are a few storylines and position competitions that were in the news last week, and likely will need to be re-assessed this week.

Jimmie Ward

Last week, the big news was Jimmie Ward getting work as one of the base defense cornerbacks. He has been primarily the nickel back to date, and Trent Baalke said he would eventually transition to safety, but for now, he's getting more work with the base defense. Dontae Johnson came on with the nickel defense last week, with Ward moving inside to cover the slot.

Bruce Miller

The one-time 49ers fullback is now a tight end. He played defensive end in college, but turned into one of the NFL's better fullbacks fairly quickly. I am really intrigued to see how well he develops in the tight end position. Vance McDonald entered the offseason as the No. 1 tight end, but his hands have been an issue throughout his career. This could open the door for Miller to move up the depth chart.

Tank Carradine

The one-time defensive tackle lost weight and is now playing outside linebacker. The pass rush side of things is his specialty, but the team has him also working on coverage and setting the edge against the run. I think once regular season football gets here, he will primarily be a pass rush specialist, but they obviously want him to have enough versatility that he is not a complete giveaway when he comes on the field.

Quarterback position

Colin Kaepernick has not been cleared to return to practice yet, so Gabbert will continue to get the first team reps. Kap is expected to be cleared in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, this means more reps for Thad Lewis and Jeff Driskel. I'd say for the time being, that's a bigger story than we might otherwise give it. Chip Kelly runs a ton of reps quickly in practice, so this could bode well for earlier development for Driskel.

Wide receivers

Quinton Patton was starting opposite Torrey Smith last week before tweaking his knee. He didn't get carted off or anything, and it sounds like he'll be fine. Dres Anderson ended up moving into the starting lineup after Patton left, which is certainly an interesting decision. We'll see what this second week of OTAs brings at the wide receiver position.


To get you ready for the kind of work happening, I thought I'd post a look at the language in the collective bargaining agreement that covers this phase of the program.

[Phase 3 (aka OTAs] Shall consist of the next four weeks of the Club's offseason workout program. Subject to the additional rules set forth in Subsections 5(a) and 5(c) of this Article and Appendix G to this Agreement, during Phase Three each Club may conduct a total of ten days of organized team practice activity ("OTAs" or "OTA days"). The restrictions set forth in Subsection 5(b) of this Article shall not apply to OTA days. The Club may conduct a maximum of three days of OTAs during each of the first two weeks of Phase Three. A maximum of four days of OTAs may be conducted during either the third week or the fourth week of Phase Three, with the Mandatory Veteran Minicamp (Article 22, Section 2) to be held during the other week. During weeks in which the Club conducts only three days of OTAs, the Club may also conduct a fourth day of non-OTA workouts, but such activities shall be subject to the rules governing Phase Two workouts, as set forth in Subsection 2(b)(ii) of this Article.

During Phase Three, all coaches shall be allowed on the field. No live contact is permitted. No one-on-one offense vs. defense drills are permitted (i.e., no offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen pass rush or pass protection drills, no wide receivers vs. defensive backs bump-and-run drills, and no one-on-one special teams drills involving both offense and defense are permitted). Special teams drills (e.g., kicking team vs. return team) are permitted, provided no live contact occurs. Team offense vs. team defense drills, including all drills listed in Appendix G to this Agreement, are permitted, provided no live contact occurs. Clubs may require players to wear helmets; no shells are permitted during Phase Three of the Club's offseason workout program or any minicamp.