Top takeaways from 49ers rookie minicamp (yes, that happened already)

San Francisco 49ers players warm up
San Francisco 49ers players warm up / D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

49ers rookie minicamp wrapped up over the weekend, and Niner Noise breaks down the notable takeaways.

It sure seems like just a couple of days ago that the 2023 NFL Draft wrapped up, and yet here we are... over two weeks into the month of may and nearly three since the draft wrapped up.

Perhaps it's my new-dad brain that just blends time together into one blurry mess, but nevertheless, time is flying on the San Francisco 49ers' offseason calendar.

Speaking of the offseason calendar, the Niners concluded their rookie minicamp over the weekend, which brought in all the first-year players, both drafted and undrafted, as well as some other invitees and some qualifying second-year pros who didn't work their way onto San Francisco's 53-man roster last year.

Combing through all the takeaways and reports from those who were there, Niner Noise breaks down some of the biggest news bits from this opening practice session for the first-year pros donning red and gold.

Biggest takeaways from 49ers rookie minicamp

As part of the 49ers' offseason program, rookie minicamp took place on May 12 and 13. While the two-day period won't lead to many drastic conclusions about each player's future, it will provide a starting point for each looking to make the transition to the pros.

And a few of the Niners' draftees sure look like they'll have strong starting points.

49ers DBs Ji'Ayir Brown and Darrell Luter Jr. look solid

Granted, the practice involved rookies going up against rookies without pads or tackling, but two of San Francisco's 2023 NFL Draft picks, safety Ji'Ayir Brown and cornerback Darrell Luter Jr., stood out in the eyes of Sports Illustrated's Grant Cohn, who had this to say about Brown:

"Built like a third-year pro. Moves around the field effortlessly with supreme confidence. Had one pass travel in his area, and was a tick late to break it up, but was in position to annihilate the wide receiver if it had been a real game."

As for Luter, Cohn showered similar praise:

"Also built like a third-year pro. Frequently lined up in press man coverage and shut down the opposing wide receiver without actually using hands, because bump-and-run coverage is against NFL rules in rookie minicamp. The only time Luter gave up a catch, he slipped on the grass while wide receiver Shae Wyatt ran a dig route. Perhaps Luter needs better cleats."

The 49ers don't readily need either defensive back to step into the fray right away, as Tashaun Gipson is poised to start at free safety and Deommodore Lenoir looks to be the No. 2 boundary cornerback.

That said, either rookie could push the veterans for a starting gig this training camp.

49ers UDFA lineman Joey Fisher needs some conditioning

The Niners didn't use the draft to grab an offensive lineman, but they did make some grabs in undrafted free agency, including Joey Fisher, who had some issues with finishing practices.

According to Matt Barrows of The Athletic (h/t Marc Adams of 49ers Webzone), Fisher "had a wet towel applied to his neck and didn't participate in the last 20 or so minutes."

Other reports corroborated this and said Fisher was the lone rookie who couldn't complete drills. That'll be a tough hurdle to overcome if he wants to improve his already-slim roster chances.

Brayden Willis might be the better 49ers rookie TE than Cameron Latu

San Francisco used a third-round pick on Alabama tight end Cameron Latu and then doubled down by using a seventh-round pick on Oklahoma's Brayden Willis.

Willis, more of an H-back anyway, caught the attention of both Cohn and 95.7 The Game's Larry Krueger, who highlighted the Round 7 pickup was reminiscent of 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk in some ways:

Cohn shared similar sentiments and pointed out that while Latu's bigger size is an advantage, his route-running abilities and separation failed to stand out.

Willis, on the other hand, earned praise from Cohn that said the tight end "is a good route runner who's not afraid to catch passes in traffic."

WR Ronnie Bell makes a name for himself

Another one of those seventh-round pickups, Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell, also turned plenty of heads in rookie minicamp for all the right reasons.

Based on nearly every observed account from those who attended, Bell was making excellent catches in contested spaces, using his hands well despite being in traffic.

Read More: Predicting 49ers wide receiver depth chart after 2023 draft

It's early, but Bell being on the ascent could help land him a spot at the back of an already crowded and talented wide receiver room. The Michigan rookie won't overtake starters like Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, of course. But Bell could easily compete for a slot role as a No. 4 option on the depth chart.

Next. 49ers 2023 full schedule, game-by-game predictions. dark