The San Francisco 49ers and the rest of the league wrapped up mandatory minicamp, and are officially on summer break until training camp starts in late July. That means it’s time to take a look at what we learned during OTAs and minicamp.
Everyone showed up
One of the best parts about this off season for the 49ers was not making NFL headlines. There were quite a few hold outs including, but not limited to, Le’Veon Bell, Aaron Donald and Julio Jones. All of the 49ers reported to the facility as scheduled, even if they were rehabbing an injury. The exception, of course, was Reuben Foster, who eventually reported after his legal matters were cleared up.
Jerick McKinnon will be used in all kinds of scenarios
Other than when McKinnon was held out of practice with a tweaked ankle, he was all over the field taking hand offs and catching passes. The same will be likely during the season. Running backs coach Bobby Turner has been very complimentary of him being extremely competitive at every opportunity which says a lot about a player who just inked a sizable contract.
P.S. Matt Breida is no slouch. He has showed his incredible versatility and speed during OTAs and minicamp.
‘Uncle Sherm’ doesn’t necessarily like his nickname
Richard Sherman has instantly become a mentor and the leader for the secondary. When he talks, people listen...except when it comes to his nickname. The rumor is that Adrian Colbert came up with it, but if you watch the beginning of the video below, he shows a little lighthearted discontent at it making him feel old. What is remarkable about watching Sheman at practice is his passion for the game even when he is not on the field. When watching the secondary in 11-on-11 drills he is focused, yelling and coaching. He congratulates players on great plays and coaches up players on those missed. During end zone drills he stations himself near the goal posts and the players gather around him, staying together as a unit. His influence and leadership has already appeared to pay off in dividends this offseason.
The pass rush could improve
While the 49ers did not address the need for a game changing pass rusher in the draft, they have improved the defense overall which could in turn, increase pressure on the quarterback. The young secondary has gained experience as well as a leader in Richard Sherman. Reuben Foster and Malcolm Smith are finally getting playing time together in the middle and DeForest Buckner is one of the best at his position.
The wide receiver corps is solid
While a certain No. 88 may want to play in the Bay Area, it’s not looking like it’s necessary. Two receivers sat out of minicamp and there were still big plays being made. Trent Taylor had a procedure on his back to remove bone spurs, Marquise Goodwin sat out with back strain and Pierre Garcon was limited as they are easing him back into playing after his neck injury. Big plays came from Aldrick Robinson, Kendrick Bourne, Victor Bolden Jr. and rookie Dante Pettis. Kyle Shanahan will have tough decisions to make on who to dress on game day if everyone stays healthy.
Jimmy Garoppolo is human
I know. You don't want to believe it, but it’s true. Maybe it’s just the ‘offseason Garoppolo’ adjusting to working with new pieces of the offense. Maybe it’s because our expectations are too high. Maybe it’s better to temper them as the franchise quarterback for the 49ers enters his first full season. Maybe it’s because the defense usually dominates this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, he has made great plays during OTAs and minicamp and will undoubtedly continue to do so, but he is human. He has thrown a few interceptions and missed a few open receivers but again all of that is part of the adjustment process of the offseason. Isn’t it better to be the underdog flying under the radar?