Minicamp is over for the San Francisco 49ers as they wrap up meetings this morning before the players take and coaches take off for six weeks. Head coach Kyle Shanahan jokingly said he’ll be at his house the entire time protecting it. In six weeks the 49ers will be back for training camp. There are plenty of questions the team must answer heading into the season. Today we’ll address a few issues surrounding some injuries on the Niners.
Rest vs. Rust
Shanahan had a different approach to this offseason. If you were a player with an injury, you weren’t participating during OTAs & minicamp. There has been a plan in place with several players like Kwon Alexander, Jason Verrett, Jerick McKinnon, and others coming off ACL injury to be “full-go” once training camp rolls around.
Choosing to rely on a handful of players is risky. Expecting each player to be 100% Day 1 of training camp certainly won’t be part of the plan. The most valuable player on the roster is still shaking off some rust. Jimmy Garoppolo will take off the training wheels and is expected to face a live pass rush.
How the 49ers manage the reps for the multiple players coming off injury will be crucial. You need to find out what you have, get guys playing together so they can build chemistry, and prepare for the season. That’s not something you can rush, though. Managing reps for guys like Nick Bosa who haven’t been able to get as much work in will be tricky, yet necessary.
Rookies receivers ready
Both Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd will be coming off injuries as well. Samuel has been out with a minor hip injury, while Hurd recovers from a knee injury. Two days of practiced highlighted the Niners need for both rookies to be ready.
The consistency isn’t there outside of Dante Pettis, who has dropped a few passes this offseason himself. Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne should be categorized as “fine,” but their ceiling is limited. That’s where the two rookies come in and help. Shanahan made it clear that Hurd has to be better than the other guys, and just because he was a draft pick and has the size doesn’t mean he’ll be gifted any playing time.
Samuel has a chance to make an immediate impact. Judging by the inconsistencies from some of the other receivers, Samuel also might not have much of a choice. I think it will be telling how much Shanahan puts on Samuel’s plate. Will he be a guy that gets a certain amount of touches a game? Deebo will determine that.
Fred Warner said yesterday that linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans was continually checking in with him as a rookie to make sure he wasn’t overloading Warner with information. The coaches being mindful of the players is a good sign. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Warner will be another player that missed the majority of the offseason but is expected to be a full participant once training camp is here.
Bosa said he had always been studying and taking mental reps. I asked Shanahan his expectations on rookie tight end Kaden Smith—who made a nice catch during the two-minute drill on Wednesday—and Shanahan insisted on pumping the brakes and expectations for most of these young players. It’s a process, and they all have a long way to go.
The first week of training camp will be a work in progress for the 49ers as players and coaches get back into the swing of things. It’s a long season, and the expectation should be for Garoppolo to come out of the gate with pass rushers flying in his face, or for McKinnon to go through the “Oklahoma drill” to welcome him back. The team will be ready when it matters, and that’s what is essential.