49ers training camp: 3 early challenges facing San Francisco

San Francisco 49ers during training camp (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers during training camp (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /
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Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State Sun Devils, 49ers
Brandon Aiyuk #2 of the Arizona State Sun Devils (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images) /

No. 3: Big-Role 49ers Rookies Lack Developmental Time

One of the major issues from the offseason was the loss of rookie minicamps and organized team activities (OTAs).

While most veterans don’t particularly care about trying to impress during these padless workouts, they are crucially important for first-year players and new faces to the franchise. Particularly those on offense when trying to learn Shanahan’s complicated scheme. True, the Niners have engineered remote offseason sessions online, but that doesn’t exactly generate the same kind of muscle memory needed to perform at a high level right out of the gate.

Three offensive rookies — tight end Charlie Woerner and wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings — figured to play crucial roles for Shanahan’s offense this season. Aiyuk, in particular, is being viewed as a major contributor for San Francisco’s offense right away.

It’s notable because, despite Aiyuk’s talents and abilities, he wasn’t exactly asked to run the most complex of routes at Arizona State. That won’t be the case during training camp, as Shanahan’s play-calling is notoriously complex.

Simply put, it’ll be a steep learning curve.

Meanwhile, the 49ers’ top pick from this year’s NFL Draft, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, hasn’t had a chance to work his abilities alongside pro-level competition. He’s expected to fill a massive void vacated by now-Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

Instead, due to the lack of minicamps and OTAs, Kinlaw might also find himself playing the catch-up game with his fellow defensive linemen in camp.