With rookies reporting to Santa Clara in less than a week (July 19), we can officially get excited for training camps and the upcoming NFL season. I’ve already inadvertently discussed two of the 49ers’ biggest training camp questions, so I won’t bore you with further debate on the battle for the No. 2 receiver position, or Nnamdi Asomugha’s potential resurgence. Read about those two storylines here and here, but let’s jump right in to the other hot-button issues that San Francisco faces heading into camp.
Assessing the Injured
Aside from Michael Crabtree, who will be rehabbing on the side, there are other 49ers returning from injury. A major factor in the Niners’ battle for the No. 2 receiver is the health of Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham. Williams is currently listed as the starting ‘X’ receiver, while Anquan Boldin is the starter at the ‘Z’ spot. Don’t expect Boldin to lose his spot, but with A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton, and Ricardo Lockette all fighting for playing time, Williams’ health will really come into focus in July and August.
Justin Smith also underwent surgery for his torn triceps following the Super Bowl. While he has long since healed, it is something to monitor in training camp. The Niners will use more of a rotation on the defensive line to keep their front fresh, so it’s likely that we see Smith take less practice reps to allow the less-experienced players get some more time in front of the coaches.