The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up Week 3 of OTAs this week. Next week, they’ll hold a mandatory mini-camp. It’s the team’s final commitment before the start of training camp, which usually begins around July 27. Both days of mini-camp are open to media, giving us our last glimpse of players before their summer break.
We’re back in this week’s offseason mailbag. As always, you’re welcome to drop questions in here for our next mailbag or tweet me @Rob_Lowder.
Does Nick Bosa’s hamstring injury dampen expectations for the season? What type of rookie season would be considered a disappointment?
A fair questions from Adam and one likely shared by many fans. I believe rookies are set up to fail to enter their first year in the NFL. They spend months training for the NFL Combine and exercises like the 40-yard dash, bench press, and three-cone before being thrown back into the mix of football activities. Bosa’s hamstring tweak isn’t surprising, especially considering he hasn’t played football since September of 2018. Many this year's top draft picks have suffered minor injuries. If Bosa’s issues persist into training camp and he’s unable to take the field for preseason, scrutiny would be warranted. As far as 2019, I’ll set the over/under for disappointment at seven sacks, considering Bosa’s refined skillset that should immediately translate to the pros. His brother, Joey, totaled 10.5 sacks in 11 games as a rookie. That’s the expectation.
Is Richard Sherman still running on one leg?
I’m no doctor, Crock, but I believe Richard Sherman’s on both legs out there. The 49ers’ veteran cornerback expects to be a better version of himself in 2019 now two years removed from a torn Achilles. The defense will be relying on Sherman to be his typically dependable self on the left side of the defense while the likes of Ahkello Witherspoon and Jason Verrett compete on the opposite side of the secondary.
Have any players reported to camp out of shape?
I’m happy to report, Ron, that there have been zero reports of any players reporting out of shape. However, any ease that may have given you has been erased by the torrent of injuries the 49ers have faced at the start of organized team activities. Bosa, Jimmy Garoppolo, Fred Warner, Matt Breida, Garrett Celek, Malcolm Smith, Raheem Mostert, Weston Richburg, Jimmie Ward, and DJ Reed are all ailing but expected to be back for training camp.
Is it realistic that Deebo Samuel could play the role of Julio Jones in this offense despite the projections of Dante Pettis by most?
I would pump the brakes on the Julio Jones expectations there, Rod. Samuel is a rookie, entering into a very complicated offense that will take years to master. His role in Shanahan’s scheme is still a question mark. He’s likely to step in at the Z position in replacement of Garcon, opposite Pettis, but he’ll get snaps at the other spots as well. Samuel will need to prove his ability to consistently make plays before he can be expected to fulfill anything remotely resembling the production of Jones under Shanahan in 2016. For now, Pettis is likely the team’s most impactful wideout next season, but Marquise Goodwin could surprise if he stays on the field.
Is Kentavius Street healthy and participating?
Darius and the rest of 49ers fans will finally get a chance to see the team’s fourth-round pick in 2018 after a red-shirt rookie year. Kentavius Street has returned to the field after suffering a torn ACL during a workout leading up the 2018 NFL Draft. I expect him to be a significant player among the competition to back up DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas.
What impact or difference have you notice with the new Medical and Training Staff?
My observations will have to wait until I report to the facility for training camp in late July, Freddy. The new medical staff has its hands full though with the onslaught of pre-existing injured players and those that have suffered new injuries since the start of the offseason program. Expectations of the new staff should be tempered until they can fully implement their own program. Even then, it’s still football, and injuries are a part of the game. It will be interesting to compare the results from the previous years to that of the new staff after a couple of seasons.
I heard Pettis showed up bigger. Have you noticed a difference in his on-field performance?
Training camp will be my first time observing Pettis in his new form, Ken. It will also be the best time to get a firm grasp on whether his added weight will have any impact on his performance, especially after the pads come on. Pettis said that he’s up to nearly 200 pounds after playing 2018 under 190. The additional bulk to a once slender frame should help Dante, especially over the middle where contact is likely. Expectations are high for the second-year wideout after ending 2018 on a high note.
How has Tarvarius Moore looked playing free safety?
A third “I’ll let you know during training camp” question from Chris. Sorry to disappoint, everyone. However, Moore’s progress at free safety seems to be going well, given his reps with the first-team defense during portions of 7-on-7s during OTAs. The 49ers desperately need someone to step up at free safety after Ward’s broken collarbone. The opportunity is there for Moore to compete with fellow safety Adrian Colbert, as long as the coaching staff doesn’t move him back to cornerback.
Who is the team favorite for the best Mic’d Up segment?
Is Deebo Samuel the favorite to start in the slot?
There’s no easy answer to Keawe’s question. I don’t consider Samuel the favorite to start in the slot. I’ve always found him the replacement for Garcon at Z, opposite Pettis at X. However, receivers coach Wes Welker recently said that Samuel was hoping to lose weight to become a more plausible option at inside receiver. Samuel’s versatility was a strong selling point at No. 36 overall. The 49ers have other receivers like Trent Taylor, Richie James, and even Pettis that will also be in the mix at slot. The team would likely prefer Samuel to win out along the perimeter while knowing he can be moved inside.