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49ers Rookie Minicamp Notebook: Video highlights, rookie quotes and more

May 10, 2024 at 5:23 PM

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Around 40 players were at 49ers facilities in Santa Clara on Friday as the team held its annual rookie minicamp, which featured the team's 2024 draft class along with a crop of tryouts and undrafted signings.

Reporters were allowed to watch minicamp and met afterward with offensive lineman and third-round draft pick Dominick Puni, wide receiver and fourth-round draft pick Jacob Cowing, and linebacker and seventh-round draft pick Tatum Bethune. Here's a wrap-up of the highlights and observations posted by reporters to social media, along with some quotes of note to come from the three rookies after practice.

All eyes on Pearsall

The main attraction on Friday was wide receiver and first-round draft pick Ricky Pearsall, who drew some praise for his route running.

"Pearsall looked like he runs good routes," wrote Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on X. "QBs couldn't get the ball to him; it happens."

Pearsall and Cowing were working on punt returns as well during the session. Pearsall (14) can be seen in the video below, which also includes other 49ers receivers:

Like father, like son

Undrafted rookie wide receiver Terique Owens was among those in action on Friday. And yes, there is a definite similarity to his father, 49ers great Terrell Owens.

Owens (84) can be seen in the video below posted by Matt Barrows of The Athletic. Indeed, the way Owens looks and runs will remind 49ers fans of his dad. The video also includes a look at Pearsall and other wide receivers.

Second rounder stands out

Cornerback Renardo Green was chosen by Grant Cohn of Sports Illustrated as the top performer of the session while Kawakami wrote "Green and (fourth-round pick Malik) Mustapha could have some thump to them."

Here's a look at Green in action, as posted by David Lombardi of The Athletic:

49ers defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen told reporters Friday that Green is getting a look at the nickel spot. Green and Bethune were teammates and near-neighbors in college at Florida State, which Bethune spoke about after minicamp.

"We lived in the same complex back in college," Bethune said, adding that he and Green lived across from each other in opposite buildings. "We could come outside and see each other anytime we wanted. We're leaving for practice, we pull up to the same building, so (he's) like a brother to me. I'm glad he's here."

A look at Puni

Dominick Puni caught some attention from Lombardi, who wrote "Dominick Puni is very well built. Carries 313 pounds impressively. One brother was a WR and the other an OL; you can tell he's athletic."

Puni told reporters after minicamp that he still doesn't know for sure yet where he'll be lining up.

"It just depends on where the team needs me," Puni said. "I can't really just tell you where I want to play. It's the NFL now. Wherever they feel I can play, I'm going to play."

Sinking in

For most of the players at minicamp, Friday marked the first time they put on an NFL uniform and hit the field for practice. Bethune said Friday marked the moment when it finally hit him that he had reached his dream of making the NFL.

"It hit me when we stepped out and started stretching," Bethune said. "It (didn't) hit me when I got drafted or when I was on the plane here. It finally hit me this morning, so yeah, I was a little excited.

"I can't even explain my thoughts. This is something I always dreamed of. Now I've just got to make the most of it."

Cowing had a similar reaction.

"It was definitely exciting, being able to put on that 49ers helmet, putting on that jersey, everything like that," Cowing said. "So I'm super excited, super blessed for this opportunity, and I can't wait to continue to go."

A reunion of sorts

Cowing and Pearsall are teammates for the first time in their football careers, but they're hardly strangers to each other.

The two of them faced off on the football field as youth players in Arizona, then after going their separate ways from there, they met for the first time in the months before the NFL Draft. They were on the field as part of the same position group with the 49ers on Friday.

"Me and him actually met each other in January this year," Cowing said after minicamp. "We were training for the Senior Bowl, (NFL Scouting) Combine prep. And also too growing up, we played Pop Warner football against each other too. I knew who Ricky was growing up as well, Now we're here together. Now we're teammates. It's a full-circle moment. So I'm just having fun with it now and I'm glad to have Ricky here with me and go out there and ball."

Cowing knew in his Pop Warner days that Pearsall was going to amount to something. He's obviously been proven correct.

"Oh yeah. Ricky's a ballplayer," Cowing said. "He has always had that 'It' factor about him. I just hope that he continues to prove that, go out there and work hard, and continue to show what his skillset is."

Puni's honest high school evaluation, and his excitement about Brock Purdy

Puni took a long road to the NFL, going from a lightly-recruited high school player who wound up at the University of Central Missouri before transferring to Kansas, where he developed into an NFL prospect. While many players who were overlooked coming out of high school carry a chip on their shoulder, Puni was honest with reporters on Friday about where he stood in high school and why he wasn't recruited.

"I would actually say I wasn't developed enough," Puni said. "My body just wasn't where I needed to be. I needed about a year or two in the weight room on a college program. So it was really my sophomore year going into my junior year, I just felt like I had a whole new body. I would say I don't think they missed on me in high school. I don't think I was here yet."

Puni added, "I was light. I was fat and light."

Puni will soon get the opportunity to block for 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, whom he already seems to admire. Puni told reporters he knew the 49ers had something interesting in Purdy as soon as he took over the starting spot for the injured Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo in 2022 and began winning games.

"I love Brock Purdy," Puni said. "The fact that he was the last pick in the draft to where he is now is a crazy story. I don't think you can write that. But it's crazy because when the other two quarterbacks went down in the season and he came in and won that game, I was like, 'Watch him. He's gonna cook.' And then he started cookin'."

That would be a bonus

It remains to be seen who returns punts this season for the 49ers, but as Friday's session indicated, Pearsall and Cowing will be among the candidates.

Cowing had 18 punt returns for over 120 yards in college at the University of Arizona. He didn't return any of those for a touchdown, but he hopes to do so as a rookie for the 49ers. If he does, it'll be the first time it's happened in a while for the franchise.

"I heard that over a decade here it hasn't been accomplished yet, so that's definitely one of my goals this year," Cowing said.

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