After three weeks of training camp, the San Francisco 49ers finally get to face another team on the field. A complete overhaul of the front office brought with it a significant overhaul of the roster. There are a lot of positions where there is a question of who will get more playing time and ultimately make the final 53. There are a few positions that have peaked my interest more than others and it will be nice to finally see them compete on the field in live situations. Who’s on your list?
After OTAs I admit I was most excited to see George Kittle in a game situation. He had gotten some reps with the 1s and it he was primed to be the stand out rookie of 2017. Then he was sidelined with a hamstring injury and Taylor became the hot commodity at 49ers training camp. Taylor has caught passes from all four quarterbacks and rarely drops the ball or is found in the wrong place on the field. And we haven’t even mentioned that he has already garnered the nickname “Toe Tap Taylor” for all of his dynamic sideline catches. It will be interesting to see how the rookie reacts to his first NFL game experience.
Matt Breida vs. Joe Williams
Carlos Hyde has been consistently productive in practice enough to solidify his hold on the starting running back position. He is a known quantity. On the other hand, Breida and Williams are not. While Grant Cohn’s draft crush, Williams, has the ridiculous highlight reel from his college come back, Breida as come in and surprised everyone. This subject has actually incited some lively debate in the media work room.
Breida not only has an incredible motor, finishing every play with 100% effort, he has sure hands and has been very effective in the passing game. Williams, who admitted he didn’t come into OTAs in good “football shape” has been improving, so much that head coach Kyle Shanahan has complimented his progress. This position battle is definitely one to watch.
It’s been so long since the 49ers have had someone who could take the top off the defense that this has to be on your watch list. I’ve watched him pull away from defenders with ease as well as running crisp routes in the flat. Goodwin has a chip on his shoulder wanting to prove he’s not just good for the long ball, but really it’s one of the things that 49ers fans have been longing for.
NaVorro Bowman and Reuben Foster
With the loss of Malcolm Smith to a season ending injury, Foster will be thrown to the fire to a certain extent. Ray-Ray Armstrong will likely rotate with the rookie but how Foster reacts to the pressure and excitement of his first NFL game should be entertaining. I’m also looking forward to seeing a healthy Bowman on the field leading the defense.
The defensive line
This group is on the top of my list, I even gravitate towards watching them at practice. 49ers VP of football affairs, Keena Turner actually couldn’t believe that it was my preferred group to watch. He actually thought I was a wide receivers kind of girl. While I do like watching a productive offense, I know that everything happens because of what goes on in the trenches, and defense wins championships, right?
I’m excited to see what Arik Armstead can do with two healthy arms and how productive DeForest Buckner will be when he doesn’t have to play every snap. Veterans Earl Mitchell and Elvis Dumervil are savvy additions to this unit that is riddled with talent. It will also be interesting to see how first round draft pick Solomon Thomas has been progressing as well as the pure power of D.J. Jones.
So that’s my list, who’s on yours?