49ers: 5 most competitive position battles so far at OTAs

Aaron Banks #62 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Aaron Banks #62 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers
Trey Sermon #28 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

While OTAs only reveal so much, these five 49ers position battles have shown to be heating up in the countdown towards training camp.

It’s easy to get overly hyped about San Francisco 49ers organized team activities.

After all, where else can you see a speedy wide receiver not weighed down by pads run down the field and make an incredible catch without a defensive back trying to physically bump him off his route or tackle him at the end of the play?

And without a true pass rush, quarterbacks like Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance can take much longer to scan the field and hit their open targets.

OTAs are somewhat silly in this regard. But they are vital, particularly for first-year players who are beginning to acclimate to life at the NFL level. And in the wake of not having them last year because of the pandemic, seeing many of the young players find some form and rhythm has been exciting.

Many of those rookies are also heating up some serious competition at various positions, too.

Overall, these five position groups appear to have been the most competitive so far.

No. 5: Running back depth is now wide open

Veteran running back Raheem Mostert has been nursing a knee injury, so he’s been out. And the Niners recently lost backup runner Jeff Wilson Jr. four to six months because of a torn meniscus.

Not surprisingly, there’s been an uptick in attention to the two recent NFL draftees, Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell.

So far, Sermon has been getting the lion’s share of first-team reps, and he looks like he’ll be a quality fit in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s outside-zone scheme. Not to be overlooked, however, running backs Elijah Mitchell and second-year pro JaMycal Hasty have also reportedly been showing their skills, too, at least according to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Cohn.

As long as he’s healthy, Mostert is assured a roster spot to start the season. But the depth and roles behind him remain wide open, potentially leading to some outstanding position battles when the competition heats up during training camp.