Niner Noise previews the San Francisco 49ers’ dead period between mandatory minicamp and the start of training camp in late July. Will the wait ever end?
Yes, the wait for actual San Francisco 49ers football will come to an end.
The Niners wrapped up mandatory minicamp last week and now have an extended break between now and the beginning of training camp, which will kick off towards the end of July. The official date has yet to be announced.
San Francisco 49ers
One of the best pieces of news from San Francisco’s previous offseason programs is the team came through everything relatively injury free. There were a few minor tweaks and nicks, but nothing major.
So what’s on tap for the red and gold between now, training camp and the start of the preseason?
Let’s take a look at the news and what to get ready for moving forward.
Expect Few Roster Moves
The 49ers’ 90-man roster has been mostly set throughout minicamps, and things won’t likely change anytime soon. At least not until training camp.
There is always the possibility of minor changes, especially at the back end of the roster. Teams around the league can always release a player of interest, although it’s doubtful the Niners would bring in any lesser-known player unless he fills a specific need or role.
Trades, cuts and signings are rarities during this NFL dead period. Most of those moves would have either happened by now or will be put off until the start of training camp.
With that said, though, don’t be surprised if general manager John Lynch executes a few moves during training camp to account for injuries, risers or fallers on the roster.
Position Battles Will Start to Fall into Place
One of the major differences this offseason compared to the last few years is San Francisco actually has some spirited competition at a number of positions.
We can predict the 49ers will feature a lot of DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas and Earl Mitchell along the defensive line. But the depth positions are a bit more interesting.
Cornerback is another heated batch. Outside of presumed No. 1 corner, Rashard Robinson, the depth chart here is about as wide open as it gets. The same goes for the offensive line, outside of left tackle Joe Staley.
The running back group — Carlos Hyde, Joe Williams, Tim Hightower, Matt Breida, etc. — is equally interesting, and the 49ers have a number of tough decisions at tight end too.
We’ll kick out a few depth-chart predictions between now and training camp, so this will be something worth watching in coming weeks.
A Chance to Wait for 49ers Newcomers
Outside of rookie minicamp, the Niners haven’t had the luxury of seeing their first-round draft pick, Thomas, take the field in any meaningful role.
This is, of course, due to Thomas’ school obligations at Stanford. But he will be ready to go in time for training camp.
Linebacker Reuben Foster, San Francisco’s other first-round pick in the NFL Draft, may also make his long-awaited on-field debut. Foster, who has yet to be cleared for contact after offseason shoulder surgery, looks to be on pace to contribute when camp kicks off.
“I think he’ll be more than ready to go by training camp,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said of Foster, via the Associated Press. “That’s my feeling. Can’t promise that, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t.”
And lastly, Niners fans will eventually get to watch veteran pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil take the field for the first time with his new team.
Training Camp, Preseason and Roster Cuts
San Francisco’s first preseason game kicks off on Friday, August 11 at the Kansas City Chiefs. This leaves about 13 games, or so, between the start of training camp and the opening of exhibition games.
Practices will be ramped up during training camp, and there always looms the possibility of injury.
This is another reason why teams will amp up roster moves during this period. Even if the Niners stay relatively injury free, it’s still possible to see some transactions.
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Other teams may cut players — a process that will take place through the preseason. While a new NFL rule states teams won’t have to make any roster cut until after Week 4 of the preseason, some teams will drop players earlier to give them a chance to land on with another squad.
Once these exhibition games are over, there will be a number of players made available.
And it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Lynch take a look at some newly made free agents.
In the meantime, Niners fans can sit back and relish in the hope the 2017 season will be vastly different than what has been seen the last two years.
Signs are pointing in the right direction, but all that’s left to do between now and late July is speculate.