Offseason programs are in full swing for the 49ers, as rookie minicamp concluded last week. Ronnie Bell, Darrell Luter, Jr., and Ji’Ayir Brown all made good impressions on media members in attendance. Sorry, Jake Moody also kicked, and it was glorious.
OTA workouts begin on May 22nd. 49ers fans are starved for videos of players dominating without pads. The off-season hype is real with this roster.
Here are three things to watch for at OTAs:
Lance and Darnold “split”
When word got out that Trey Lance and Sam Darnold would “split” QB1 reps while Brock Purdy recovered, it sent shockwaves through the fan base.
The word split evokes ideas of one rep for Lance and one rep for Darnold. In reality, the “split” can be anything from 85/15 to 50/50. It’s tough to envision either quarterback developing rhythm and rapport, jumping in and out series for series.
I’m certain both quarterbacks will be able to showcase their abilities in OTAs. Time will tell who works with the “first team.”
Also, be wary of the numbers from OTAs, as they lack the context of the situation and are just raw numbers. It will be fun to watch how OTAs will be reported.
Who is on the clock for the 49ers?
The list of players who need to make a big impression for the organization is largely comprised of third-round picks.
The list of third-rounders is Tyrion Davis-Price, Ambry Thomas, and Danny Gray.
In the case of Davis-Price, Jordan Mason pushed his way onto the roster. Christian McCaffrey is entrenched, as is Elijah Mitchell. Khalan Laborn is the candidate to push Davis-Price.
The 49ers moved on from Trey Sermon after one season. This is a similar timetable for the LSU running back.
Thomas, after a solid run down the stretch in 2021, saw his playing time dwindle to nothing. Even when the 49ers needed outside corner help, Samuel Womack was pushed outside in Atlanta after Mooney Ward exited with an injury.
Gray’s journey is a bit puzzling. On the one hand, it was assumed he was tied to Trey Lance as the “downfield threat.” On the other hand, did Gray have enough playing time to impress? The 49ers have four receivers who are surely making the roster: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Jauan Jennings, and Ray-Ray McCloud.
Can Gray beat out Chris Conley? Will the 49ers carry six receivers to sacrifice a tight end on the 53? He’ll need to make an impression starting in OTAs.
Steve Wilks’ plan for the defense
Wilks held a press conference in which he showered praise on Ji’Ayir Brown, Javon Kinlaw’s participation all offseason, Isaiah Oliver, and Drake Jackson’s weight gain and progress.
Wilks is a defensive back guru. It will be interesting to see what Wilks implements with the defense. Typically, his defense is a single high safety set. Does that mean Tashaun Gipson, Sr. is the single high safety that allows Talanoa Hufanga or Brown to roam in the box and play fast and free?
The defense has no shortage of talent, so it will be interesting to see what Wilks comes up with.
What are you looking forward to from 49ers OTAs?