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49ers open rookie minicamp with fewer roster openings than last year

Time to see what under-the-radar options show up.

The San Francisco 49ers open their rookie minicamp on Friday, welcoming in draft picks, undrafted free agent signings, and tryout candidates. First year players last year who spent the season on the NFI list or practice squad are also eligible to take part. There will be rookie availability on Thursday and Friday, followed by practices through the weekend.

A year ago, the 49ers new front office and coaching staff had a lot to figure out. John Lynch said the team had something like 85 people at rookie minicamp. The team ended up signing safety Chanceller James, offensive lineman Richard Levy, and wide receiver B.J. Johnson to UDFA deals after their tryouts at the rookie camp.

The team waived Levy, while James and Johnson ended up on injured reserve. James was a particularly interesting case, as he seemed to have a strong chance of making the roster as a reserve safety. He will be someone to watch in training camp this fall, particularly with Eric Reid’s departure and Jimmie Ward moving back to cornerback (to some extent).

This year, Lynch said the team will, “be a little more tame with that, pull back the reins a little on our numbers.” On Wednesday, he said they would have approximately half the number from last year, and it will be tough for the tryouts to crack the roster.

The team will have their nine draft picks, 13 undrafted free agents, and a host of tryout candidates. Maybe we see some tryouts land spots on the 90-man roster. But given that we are now over a full calendar year into the John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan era, they might be plenty happy with where things stand.