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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

49ers minicamp notebook: Bosa, Ebukam rave about rookie Jackson; A happy but crowded D-Line room; Ryans on cornerbacks

Jun 8, 2022 at 4:40 PM--

Could the 49ers have a major steal on their hands in second-round pick Drake Jackson?

That's what it sounds like, based on comments from fellow defensive ends Samson Ebukam and Nick Bosa.

Both players raved about Jackson on Wednesday, offering the type of high praise rookies don't often receive from veterans at this stage of the game.

Or, as Ebukam put it, "Damn. He's good."

Read on for more comments on Jackson from Ebukam and Bosa, along with much more from the media sessions following Wednesday's 49ers minicamp practice. There was plenty of talk about the defensive side of the ball, along with some comments from new 49ers special teams coordinator Brian Schneider. Check it out in this edition of 49ers Notebook.

They love the Drake

He's only been around for a few weeks, but Drake Jackson has already made big fans out of a couple of his teammates.

As is the case with any rookie this time of year, it's important to note that Jackson, whom the 49ers selected with the 61st overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, has only been with his new team for a handful of pad-free practice sessions. But what he's shown so far has made believers out of veterans Samson Ebukam and Nick Bosa.

"Damn. He's good. He's good," Ebukam told reporters after practice Wednesday. "He's going to be a key factor in this defense."

Ebukam and Jackson could find themselves competing for snaps this season. Ebukam says Jackson is already giving him some stiff competition, which should make both players better in the long run.

"I've been seeing him run all the drills, and I'm just like, 'Man, he's athletic, he's big,'" Ebukam said. "He's got young legs, so he's able to keep going all day. Me seeing him doing that, I'm just like, oh yeah, I've got somebody who can push me. So he's pushing me. He's going to push others as well."

Bosa has only known Jackson for two days, having just reported to 49ers offseason activities earlier this week. He's been impressed with Jackson's demeanor as well as his movement.

"Just a really nice kid. He's super-talented," Bosa said. "He does things out there that I definitely couldn't do as a rookie, just the way he moves. He's definitely got some impressive stuff about him, but it's only been two days where I've seen him. Just a great dude though, wants to learn and is really appreciative to be here, and I'm glad we got him."

What specifically did Bosa mean when he said Jackson could do things that he couldn't as a rookie?

"Just his bend and his mobility that young," Bosa said. "I think his gymnastics background or whatever, he just can bend really well. That's something I've had to improve on as my career's gone on as I've trained with my brother and our trainer. But yeah, he's just got it naturally, so if he can keep building and keep getting better, he'll be pretty scary."

Jackson is a player some analysts felt had first-round talent, but he slipped to the 49ers late in Round 2. The 49ers seem more than happy that the USC product was still available when they made their second-round pick, which was their first of nine selections they made in the 2022 NFL Draft.

"It's pretty crazy that somebody that talented is still there at that point," Bosa said.

RELATED DeMeco Ryans: 'The sky's the limit' for 49ers rookie Drake Jackson

Is there such a thing as too much depth?

Jackson is one of many talented players competing for reps on an ultra-talented and deep 49ers defensive line that also includes Bosa, Ebukam, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Charles Omenihu, Kevin Givens, Maurice Hurst, Jordan Willis, and four other offseason additions in Kemoko Turay, Hassan Ridgeway, Kerry Hyder, and sixth-round pick Kalia Davis. There likely won't be enough roster spots for the 49ers to keep them all, but Bosa would like to keep as many as possible.

"Yeah, it's good," Bosa said. "Just so much depth this year with Turay and Charles and Kerry and Samson. Jordan will come back. We're going to have to use some extra roster spots on the D-Line for sure."

Last year's line rounded into shape towards the end of the season and eventually formed a strong chemistry. Bosa expects the same from this year's group, even with all the new faces.

"I think we'll be better for sure," Bosa said.

Youth and depth at corner

Cornerback is another position where the 49ers may eventually have to make some tough roster decisions, but it's a position with a much younger look than the defensive line. There will be a number of veterans in the mix, such as Emmanuel Moseley, Charvarius Ward, Dontae Johnson, Jason Verrett, and Darqueze Dennard, but there's also a handful of young players in rookies Tariq Castro-Fields and Samuel Womack, and second-year players Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir.

Who stays and who goes out of that group remains to be seen, but right now defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans likes what's available.

"I think our guys have a chance to be really good," Ryans said Wednesday. "Corners, adding [Ward] Mooney, E-Man has done a really great job this entire offseason. Ambry still is improving, still has a ways to go when it comes to improving and he's working at it daily. So all those guys, there's a lot of competition back there. The young guys we brought in with Tariq and Samuel, those guys have done a great job of coming in and doing what they're supposed to do and really pushing those guys. So, it's a really good group and I like where we are. It's going to be great to see those guys coming back and coming to camp when it's real football and time to take off. I'm excited for where they are now and they can still improve and get even better, so it's going to be exciting for me to watch that."

Why the slow start?

Samson Ebukam wasn't exactly piling up the numbers for the 49ers last season after joining the team on a free agent contract, but he certainly put up some stats on the board as the season came to a close.

Ebukam had one sack and four quarterback hits through his first 13 games with the 49ers, but in Weeks 14 through 18 he totaled seven quarterback hits and 3.5 sacks. In three postseason games, Ebukam added two more sacks along with four quarterback hits.

What changed for Ebukam? It was simply a matter of getting more reps in the system, while finding ways to make his skills work.

"All the moves I was trying to hit earlier in the year weren't working," Ebukam said. "I just kept at it and I just ended up turning them into sacks. I just have to keep going, keep believing. My effort was going to handle the rest of them."

If Ebukam carries his momentum over to 2022, he and Bosa could create plenty of havoc for opposing offenses throughout the year.

"He's smooth, he's good with his hands, good with his feet," Ebukam said of Bosa. "All I know is slide all the calls to his way so I get my one-on-ones and win."

Same ol' Deebo:

Despite an ongoing contractual soap opera with the 49ers, it sounds like wide receiver Deebo Samuel didn't show many signs of unhappiness this week after reporting to the team for mandatory minicamp. Samuel stayed away from the team up until this week after demanding a trade earlier in the offseason, but he's back with the 49ers for now and is the same teammate he's been in the past, according to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

"Deebo seems the same," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said Wednesday. "Seems like the same guy. He's always been positive, always hyping up his teammates. That hasn't really changed."

Drawing until a conclusion

One of the more entertaining and unexpected storylines of the 49ers offseason has been the drawings of Portuguese fan Rita Carvalho, who over four months ago made a post on the 49ers subreddit vowing to draw a picture of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo every day until he got traded.

Carvalho has made good on her promise, with today's drawing marking Day 126 of her journey. Along the way she's been featured at and has started an Instagram page featuring her collection of Garoppolo drawings.

Juszczyk didn't know of the drawings until he was asked about them on Wednesday but suggested Carvalho should be ready to keep them coming for the foreseeable future.

"I haven't seen that," Juszczyk said. "I don't know when she started, but she's going to be drawing for a while, I feel like. Yeah, that's impressive."

Meet Brian Schneider

The 49ers moved on from special teams coordinator Richard Hightower after five seasons in February and replaced him with Brian Schneider, who is coming off a season away from football after spending 11 years with the Seattle Seahawks. Schneider spoke with reporters Wednesday and filled them in on some of what he did during his time off.

"I bugged my wife a lot, that was the number one thing I did, but it was an opportunity to watch my youngest son play football every weekend," Schneider said. "I kept in contact with friends, but I really kind of stayed away and looked at the whole game and the whole experience from a distance, which again was a really cool experience that I don't know, I just needed to go through at the time. And I didn't know what was going to happen in the future and I was okay with that. But it was a great time to reconnect with my family. I got to see another son, who coaches in Montana. I got to go to a couple of those games, which I've never been able to go to. I got to visit a daughter in San Diego. I got to see a son in Colorado, so things that I've never experienced were really cool to do."

Now that he's back in the NFL, Schneider is excited to get to work on improving the 49ers on special teams. The 49ers gave him some help earlier this offseason by bringing in linebacker Oren Burks and safety George Odum, along with wide receiver/return specialist Ray-Ray McCloud.

"Oh, I'm really fired up," Schneider said. "When you look at those guys that we brought in, I think they're even better than I originally thought on tape, which is awesome. Burks is such a good athlete and that was really obvious on the tape, but even when you get to work with him, it's even better. Odum is the same thing. When you get those guys in a room, you get to talk with them every day, you get to coach them and you see how hard they work, not only in this setting, but on the field, it's just really exciting. There's no question why they have the reputation they have. And then you throw Ray-Ray in there and that's just unbelievable, so I was extremely happy at the time, and I'm probably even a little more excited now that I've worked with them."

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