Mandatory minicamp kicks off tomorrow, on June 11, for the San Francisco 49ers and will run through Thursday, June 13. The 49ers will be without a handful of starters as they recover from injury. That opens the door for some of the younger players to make a name for themselves. With that end mind, here are four things that I’ll be keeping an eye on over the next couple of days at practice.
Last year the secondary had a coverage bust far too often for NFL standards. If the team is going to compete at a high level in 2019, the mental mistakes have to be eliminated. I’m going to attempt to jot down every time there’s a coverage bust during team periods in practice. With another year in Robert Saleh’s scheme, there should be very few situations where a receiver is running free.
Trouble in the trenches
After Joe Staley signed a two-year extension, the 49ers starting offensive line will be together through the next two years, at the very least. With Weston Richburg out until training camp, the center position will be up for grabs. That could be Erik Magnuson or one of the veteran offensive linemen the team signed this offseason.
Because Richburg is out, you’d expect the defensive line to give the offense some trouble, specifically on the interior. Good luck blocking Deforest Buckner, but most teams struggle with that. I’ll be keeping an eye on Solomon Thomas and how his game has grown as he enters his third year. For the first time, Thomas will be playing a position that best suits him. The star-power is on edge with the likes of Staley, Mike McGlinchey, Nick Bosa, and Dee Ford, but the pivotal matchups will take place inside.
One of the most exciting aspects of the team is watching Kyle Shanahan scheme up formations and plays. Last year George Kittle laid down on the ground, faking like he fell, then got up and ran for a considerable gain. There’s always wrinkles with Shanahan. Players are going to line up all over the place. One play you could see three running backs on the field at the same time. In the next play, you could see three tight ends. Shanahan isn’t predictable, and with the talent on offense, that’s why the 49ers have a chance to make some noise in 2019.
What I’m interested in watching for is how the ball is distributed. Kittle and Dante Pettis will be the focal point. But after that, who? There are plenty of questions that certainly won’t be answered in two practices. The usage of Deebo Samuel hopefully is one.