Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


5 Under-the-radar 49ers to watch at training camp

Jul 28, 2019 at 10:20 AM0


The San Francisco 49ers got training camp under way with their first practice on Saturday, and there was no surprise over the names taking the headlines.

Nick Bosa's three-sack showing captured a lot of the attention, as did an ultimately strong performance from Jimmy Garoppolo after the quarterback endured some initial struggles.

But while it is the top end of the roster that will continue to dominate the news agenda, there are plenty of players towards the bottom half of the 53 who could emerge and claim important roles.

Here we look at five under-the-radar players worthy of being closely watched in training camp.

Ben Garland


Signings of backup interior linemen will never generate fanfare, but the Niners' decision to ink Ben Garland to a one-year deal may be one of the more important made by San Francisco this offseason.

With Weston Richburg on the sideline as he recovers from knee and quadriceps surgery, Garland received first-team reps at center during offseason practices.

The Niners are hopeful Richburg will be ready for Week 1 but, in case he is not, San Francisco needs a reliable option at an extremely important position.

Garland comes with experience of the Kyle Shanahan system from his time in Atlanta and heads into training camp needing to prove he can be a capable fill-in if Richburg is not back in time for Week 1.

Ross Reynolds


More interior linemen hype. The odds of an undrafted free agent rookie making it on an increasingly deep team may appear slim, but Reynolds looks to have the best hope of any the Niners added this offseason.

Reynolds played his college ball for an Iowa team that employs the zone-blocking system Shanahan runs with the Niners, with the Hawkeye line allowing only 16 sacks in 2018.

Because of his scheme fit and success playing for a program from which the Niners have unearthed a star in George Kittle, San Francisco may be more willing to put faith in Reynolds to serve as a backup guard ahead of former first-round pick Joshua Garnett.

The 49ers can save money by releasing Garnett but, to be confident in doing so, Reynolds will have to make a significant impression and prove he should have been drafted and is worthy of a roster spot.


D.J. Jones


The rise of the nickel as the base defense in the NFL has dramatically lessened the importance of the nose tackle. As such, starter D.J. Jones is unlikely to see a huge increase on the 22 per cent of defensive snaps he played last year, but the 49ers will still be extremely keen for him to build on a promising second year in the league.

Jones outshone veteran Earl Mitchell in 2018, demonstrating impressive power and athletic ability to shed blocks and find the football, making him a force in the run game.

Though he does not have a sack to his name through two seasons in the NFL, Jones has had success creating interior disruption and, if he shows further flashes of doing so in camp, that would potentially give the 49ers more versatility when they go to their traditional base defense.


Kentavius Street


San Francisco is blessed with an extremely deep defensive line, yet for all the buzz surrounding the likes of DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, precious little has been said about Kentavius Street.

The 49ers picked Street in the fourth round of the 2018 draft despite him tearing his ACL at his pro day. He unsurprisingly redshirted his rookie year but has the athleticism and versatility to make an impact in his second season.

Street was ranked third on Bruce Feldman's college football freaks list in 2017 and played off the edge and on the interior at NC State and had 15.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in his final two college seasons.

The Niners need to carry a pass rush threat when Buckner, Bosa and Ford take breathers. Alongside the likes of Ronald Blair and Sheldon Day, Street is a leading candidate to provide that. Internally there is likely to be plenty of expectation on Street to make a significant impression in camp.


Tarvarius Moore


With presumptive starter Jimmie Ward on the sideline with a fractured collarbone, numerous free safeties have an opportunity to make a case for taking what is assumed to be his job.

Adrian Colbert, having begun last season as the starter before he went down with injury, is the obvious candidate to unseat Ward, but Tarvarius Moore may be a better option.

Transitioning back to his college position from cornerback, Moore projects well as a player who should have the range to cover the deep middle having been the fourth-ranked SPARQ safety in the 2018 class.


He demonstrated playmaking ability in his time at Southern Miss, snagging three of his five career interceptions in 2017, when he also had 10 pass deflections.

Moore flashed some of those ball skills as a rookie but, having used a third-round pick on him, the Niners would surely like to see a more tangible return on their investment in year two. If he does catch the eye in camp then Ward may find his job under threat from an athletically superior player.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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