This long dry offseason is about to come to a close and soon plenty of reports are going to roll in on the San Francisco 49ers and their expectations. As training camp goes on, you’ll hear multiple reports of who’s on, who’s off, and who is in fear of getting cut. We really won’t know the full extent of things until the 53-man roster is made, but we’ll be able to draw some conclusions.
Mike Silver was on to NFL Network talk about the 49ers and spoke mostly about the respect Kyle Shanahan has around the league as an offensive play-caller.
“If you talk to head coaches around the league and ask them who is the most skilled offensive mind in the game, Kyle Shanahan is going to get a lot of votes.” Silver said on NFL Network. “We haven’t gotten to see the full force of that because Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt last season and that derailed the plan.”
It turns out; there was a bit more than just that segment. After his segment aired, Silver had a few more nuggets that are worth mentioning.
First, was the wide receivers:
Both are described as students of the game who have a knack for getting open and are getting the timing of the offense down. Pettis can line up anywhere. Taylor, I'm told, has risen to the occasion with added competition over the offseason...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) July 23, 2019
How this wide receiver camp battle shakes up is anyone’s guess. Someone who was on the team last year will be getting cut, that much is certain. The 49ers could elect to use a roster spot on a seventh wide receiver, but that depends if they are fine sacrificing depth at a different position. 2019 second-round pick Deebo Samuel has a chance to emerge, but Dante Pettis looks to be the breakout star in 2019. The 49ers have always indicated they planned on moving Pettis around the line of scrimmage. All Pettis has to do in 2019 is stay healthy.
Trent Taylor will be interesting. The back surgery he had in 2018 was thought of as a non-issue, but he was a shell of his Mr. Third Down self in 2017. There hasn’t been anything negative yet on Taylor, but it’s obvious the competition at wide receiver has been turned up a notch. As I said, someone is getting cut that was on the team last year. Is it Taylor? Richie James? Kendrick Bourne?
The other nugget from Silver was on the running backs:
As for the quartet of talented running backs (Tevin Coleman, Jerrick McKinnon, Matt Brieda & Raheem Mostert), I'm told there will be legitimate competition in camp and that all are expected to contribute. Because Mostert is a special-teams stud, all 4 could be active on game days— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) July 23, 2019
The running back pecking order has been the big question through the offseason. It’s pretty apparent fans want to see what this offense will be like with these three (four if you count Raheem Mostert).
A month ago, Matt Maiocco suggested there wouldn’t be four running backs suiting up on game day. Given Mostert’s value as one of the best special teams gunners in the league, that would leave an odd man out from the trio of Matt Breida, Jerick McKinnon, and Tevin Coleman. Maiocco said that Coleman is the “odds-on favorite” to be anything close to a lead back. Being that this report was in early June, things definitely could have developed since then.
It may be a game-by-game basis. Some games will have three running backs; some will have four. Some games will have all four running backs lining up on a play (this is Kyle Shanahan we’re talking about here, it’s not too far-fetched to think this). It’s a bit strange to have four running backs every game, and having a rotation of sorts akin to baseball’s rotation of pitchers isn’t a bad idea given how banged up the whole unit got as the season progressed in 2018. That said, it’s not surprising at all if they decide to dress four each week, injuries permitting.
The running back and wide receiver competitions will be something to watch as training camp unfolds. Hopefully, everyone stays healthy this time around.