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49ers reporter breaks down OTAs

Marc Adams
Jun 1, 2024 at 10:43 AM

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The San Francisco 49ers are through two weeks of OTAs (organized team activities). WR Brandon Aiyuk and RB Christian McCaffrey have been no-shows during OTAs. Aiyuk will likely not be at next week's mandatory minicamp. He is awaiting a new contract and is not expected to take part in any practices with the team until a new deal is signed.

It's unknown why McCaffrey has missed OTAs. Some believe it is contract-related. The remaining of his $24 million deal (over the next two years) is not guaranteed. Perhaps the star running back wants some guaranteed money. Some believe he may want an extra year on his contract, in addition to some guaranteed dollars. We'll see if he shows up for the mandatory minicamp.

But enough about the players who have yet to show up to practice. Let's talk about who has shown up. 49ers reporter, Larry Krueger, recently posted some quick thoughts on the first two weeks of 49ers OTAs. Kreuger is always a good listen, and I pay attention to what he says. You may recall that Krueger was high on QB Brock Purdy, back when the young signal-caller was known as "Mr. Irrelevant" and was the 49ers' fourth-string quarterback. Here are Krueger's quick thoughts on the OTAs, along with my responses.

Purdy looks primed for his career year. Stronger, smarter, and more sudden.

If Purdy can throw for 4,280 yards and 31 touchdowns during an offseason in which he was recovering from a torn UCL, what is he capable of doing with a full offseason to learn and improve?

Josh Dobbs is rangy and athletic, but I think Brandon Allen and Tanner Mordecai are better QBs and have a chance to beat him out in the preseason.

The fanbase seemed excited when the 49ers signed Josh Dobbs as the backup quarterback. But this isn't the first time I've heard Krueger speak highly about undrafted rookie free agent Tanner Mordecai. Before you scoff at Krueger for saying Mordecai is better than Dobbs and will beat him out, go back and read the part where I mentioned Krueger was high on Purdy before anyone else was.

Cody Schrader looks better every time I see him.

This is something I keep hearing. RB Cody Schrader is an undrafted rookie, but he led the SEC in rushing last season. He's been overlooked and underrated his entire career. Could Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and RB coach Bobby Turner have found another gem at the position?

Isaac Guerendo has more WR and FB traits than he has RB traits.

Some have reported that Isaac Guerendo has been indecisive as a running back. We know that Shanahan and Turner aren't very patient with that. Ask Trey Sermon. But Guerendo has excellent speed and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Krueger has been saying he likes Guerendo as a possible fullback. I don't know if that's something the 49ers are thinking about, but imagine what Shanahan could do with a fullback who can catch the ball and has game-breaking speed.

JP Mason looks primed for a breakout campaign.

49ers fans love Jordan Mason. And they should. When he gets opportunities, he makes things happen. I've written before that he runs like he's angry at the grass. Unfortunately, he's been behind McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell. Could this be the year Mason becomes the number two guy and gets more opportunities?

Ricky Pearsall will become a 3rd down monster.

The 49ers just signed their original third-down monster, Jauan Jennings, to a two-year deal. But I love hearing that Ricky Pearsall, the 49ers first-round draft pick, looks like a keeper. I'd love to inject Shanahan with some truth serum and find out why they went with Pearsall. Does it have anything to do with the lack of separation by wide receivers in the Super Bowl? Is it because Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel won't be around much longer?

Jacob Cowing will emerge as a very significant player and will become a favorite of Purdy.

I don't know if Jacob Cowing will become a player fans love or not, but I personally like this pick. Cowing has elite speed and brings something to the offense the 49ers don't currently have—a deep threat. They had hoped Danny Gray would be the guy who could get behind the defense. But he had only one catch as a rookie. Last year, he missed the entire season with an injury. So I love hearing good things about Cowing.

Mason Pline reminds me of a taller Brent Jones. Smart, competitive, good hands. Very underrated athlete.

Taller than Brent Jones? Yes, that's right. TE Mason Pline is 6'6. He has the physical tools to be a good tight end. But he's raw. He's relatively new to football. If he can learn the position and put it together, there's a chance Pline could be the TE2 San Francisco has been looking for.

This week, in the 49ers Webzone Mailbag, I answered a question about which UDFA (undrafted free agent) has the best chance to make the 53-man roster. I listed three possible UDFAs. Pline was one, even though I think it's unlikely to happen this season.

Dominik Puni and Spencer Burford should battle in July/August for the #1 RG spot.

Most 49ers fans would like to see someone beat out Spencer Burford at right guard, and Dominik Puni may be the one who can do it. In fairness, though, Burford is still young and should get better. But there's a disconnect. In his rookie season, he split time with Daniel Brunskill at right guard. That wasn't a big deal. He was a rookie and Shanahan doesn't trust rookies.

But in his second season, he lost his starting job to veteran Jon Felciano. If Puni is going to compete with Burford, can the rookie win the job?

Prediction: Feliciano, Nugent, or Kingston will beat out Jake Brendel for starting center job

I'm not sure if this is because Jake Brendel is dealing with an injury, or because Krueger isn't high on him. Regardless, offensive line coach Chris Forrester is high on Brendel. So even though I'd love Krueger's prediction to come true, I don't see Brendel losing his job this season, unless the knee issue becomes a problem that continues to keep him out.

If someone does beat out Brendel this season, I'd expect it to be Feliciano. Drake Nugent may be the center of the future, though. The rookie is another one that I included in my list of UDFA with a chance to make the final 53.

Leonard Floyd/Nick Bosa will be a super productive DE combo. Both will finish with 10+ sacks.

This would be an amazing development for the 49ers. If Leonard Floyd can get double-digit sacks, the 49ers will finally have a pass rusher opposite Nick Bosa who can have a great impact on the game. They've been searching for that player since Dee Ford in 2019.

DT Jordan Elliott was an underrated addition. Very strong with quick feet.

The 49ers needed help along the interior of the defensive line, especially in stopping the run. They believe Jordan Elliot can be that guy. Let's hope they're right.

Evan Anderson (#60) looks explosive and strong and will make the final 53 at DT

Evan Anderson is my pick for the UDFA with the best chance of making the 53-man roster. He is huge (6'3, 326 lbs.), and the 49ers paid him a lot of money ($280,000 total guaranteed money), so they must see something in him.

Jalen Graham is an absolute star in the making at ILB.

A year ago, I believed Dee Winters would be a better linebacker than Jalen Graham. But as training camp went on, I started wondering if I was wrong. During the season, however, Winters played some, while Graham barely sniffed the field. Since the season ended, I've heard a lot of good things about Graham. So it will be fun to see how training camp and preseason unfold.

Malik Mustapha and Renardo Green will both play significant roles as rookies in SF's secondary, both have ALPHA-type personalities.

CB Renardo Green and safety Malik Mustapha were great selections. Green is a feisty corner who fits in well with the 49ers defense. And Mustapha is the type of player the 49ers like at safety. I agree with Krueger. Both players will play a lot as rookies.

Darrell Luter, Jr. will start outside opposite Mooney Ward at CB and will make dramatic strides in his 2nd year. Luther's high-level talent and athleticism really stand out on the practice field.

If Darrell Luter, Jr. starts opposite Charvarius Ward, that means Deommodore Lenoir will be playing nickel corner. I'm in favor of that. I'm sure Lenoir would prefer to play on the outside, but the 49ers have to get their best three corners on the field at the same time. Can Luter hold off Green? It's possible that neither of them starts until later in the season. The 49ers brought in a couple of veteran corners in Isaac Yiadom and Rock Ya-Sin.

Next week, the 49ers will hold their mandatory minicamp. After the minicamp, the 49ers will be off until training camp begins in late July.
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