49ers training camp: 5 biggest battles to watch in 2021

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /
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Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (31) Mandatory Credit: San Francisco 49ers/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network /

The 49ers officially kick off their 2021 training camp this week, so let’s break down the five biggest camp battles to closely monitor.

San Francisco 49ers fans can finally stop worrying about speculation and overanalysis during the dead time of the offseason, as the Niners will officially start on-field practices for 2021 training camp on Saturday, July 31.

While there was no shortage of competition during San Francisco’s organized team activity period earlier this spring, the intensity certainly ramps up with the pads being donned and full-contact activities taking place before the inaugural 2021 preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, Aug. 14.

Needless to say, there’s no shortage of position battles to watch between now and then.

Many of these position battles are going to focus on the depth roles, and the 49ers do have some serious questions at a number of spots on the roster regarding reserves and backups. Yet there are some starting positions essentially up for grabs, too.

Niner Noise takes a look at the five most heated position battles in this training camp, first looking at one that could have massive ramifications for the offense: the starting running back.

49ers training camp battle No. 5: Starting running back

It might not matter too much in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, as he’ll often platoon runners and go with the hot hand. Just because a player starts doesn’t automatically equate to getting the most carries.

Depth is going to be a concern here, and reserve running backs Elijah Mitchell, JaMycal Hasty and Wayne Gallman are all vying for perhaps two backup spots on the roster.

But the real kicker will be centered around the 29-year-old veteran, Raheem Mostert, and the Niners’ third-round NFL Draft choice from this year, Trey Sermon.

Mostert might have the home-run speed on his side, but a recent string of injuries and the fact he’s getting up there in age combine to make Sermon a potential rookie-year starter right out of the gate.

And arguably the closest thing to a bell-cow running back Shanahan has had on his roster.

Shanahan has previously let his running backs determine their own roles during training camp, and Sermon could end up determining he deserves the lion’s share of early carries when the regular season kicks off.