The San Francisco 49ers open training camp in a little over two weeks, at which point position battles will return to the forefront. We know how much of the roster will look when Week 1 arrives, but there are still plenty of areas to sort out.
We’ll spend each week during the preseason assessing the state of various position competitions, but during the current down time, I wanted to figure out what people will be paying attention to next month. We know most of the position battles, but I’m sure there will be some smaller ones that might slip off our radar.
Below is a rundown of the key battles with the pertinent figures. Feel free to add more in the comments. I’ve added a brief note for each, but we’ll be going into plenty more detail on them in the coming weeks.
Right guard: Joshua Garnett, Jonathan Cooper, Mike Person, Erik Magnuson
Note: Garnett and Cooper seem to be the front-runners here.
Swing tackle: Garry Gilliam, Erik Magnuson, Darrell Williams, Jr.
Note: Magnuson can play all five offensive line positions
Swing interior lineman: Mike Person, Erik Magnuson, Joshua Garnett/Jonathan Cooper loser
Note: My thought is the loser of Garnett/Cooper ends up traded or released as neither has the same versatility as Person and Magnuson.
Third running back: Joe Williams, Jeremy McNichols, Jeff Wilson
Note: Matt Breida seems like the clear front-runner for No. 2, while Raheem Mostert is viewed more as a special teams guy.
5th/6th wide receivers: Kendrick Bourne, Aldrick Bourne, Richie James, Victor Bolden, Aaron Burbridge, Steven Dunbar
Note: It’s hard to know what exactly the rotation might be, so this is mostly just who might win the last spot or two on the depth chart for the time being.
Nickel defensive tackles: Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Sheldon Day, Ronald Blair, Jullian Taylor
Note: This group is competing for a spot next to DeForest Buckner. The 49ers will look to rotate someone in to rest Buckner from time to time, but this is one job and not much more in the grand scheme.
Nickel/Dime edge rushers: Cassius Marsh, Jerry Attaochu, Pita Taumoepenu, Eli Harold
Note: Marsh and Attaochu would seem to be front-runners, but Pita T in particular is someone to keep an eye on.
Primary WILL/MIKE backup: Fred Warner, Brock Coyle, Korey Toomer, Elijah Lee, Mark Nzeocha
Note: One of these players will be in the starting lineup Weeks 1 and 2 because of Reuben Foster’s suspension, but they’re competing for backup work once Foster returns.
Backup cornerbacks: Jimmie Ward, Greg Mabin, Tarvarius Moore, Tyvis Powell, Tarvarus McFadden, D.J. Reed, C.J. Goodwin
Note: I am operating under the assumption the starters are Ahkello Witherspoon, K’Waun Williams, and Richard Sherman. Someone could surprise and emerge, but as is, those three seem the starters for the time being.
Backup safety: Jimmie Ward, Chanceller James, Marcell Harris, Don Jones
Note: Ward is working out at cornerback, but if he does not claim a starting corner job, I have to think he is in the mix for a utility role across the secondary.