7 things that matter from 49ers OTAs and minicamp

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It’s important not to overreact to things that happen during OTAs and minicamp in May and June. Players aren’t going full speed, they’re not wearing pads, and no 11-on-11 team drills are allowed.

However, there are a handful of things from the 49ers’ OTAs and two-day minicamp that are worth noting for San Francisco. With training camp and the preseason still to come, there are still hurdles for the team to clear with contracts, position battles and roles.

Coming out of minicamp though these are the seven important things that will matter moving forward.

Deebo Samuel showed up

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Samuel didn’t participate in any team drills during the 49ers’ minicamp, but the fact he was on hand to run sprints on a side field, hold a play sheet while watching team drills and hanging out with his fellow wide receivers is a good sign the chasm between him and the team is at least starting to close. Had he skipped the session it would’ve been an extremely bad sign. That he was there at all doesn’t mean the 49ers are out of the woods, but this is a step in the right direction in the team’s quest to sign him long-term.

Nick Bosa showed up

(AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

Bosa is in a similar spot to Samuel contractually, but his offseason has had less drama. Part of that has to do with the fact Bosa and the team haven’t even started contract talks yet. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he’s not concerned about Bosa signing though, and Bosa echoed the sentiment saying he leaves contract stuff up to his agent. Bosa’s presence is a good sign those talks will happen, even if the sides wait until closer to training camp.

Ray-Ray McCloud sticks out

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Seven-on-seven football is very easy for wide receivers, but McCloud was a player reporters pointed to as standing out with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings sitting out some or all of minicamp. Matt Barrows of the Athletic noted that McCloud was effective in multiple areas of the field, which bodes well for his chances to make an impact on offense for San Francisco. He could handle return duties, but he’s put himself on an early track to ascend into a real No. 3 or 4 receiver role in the 49ers’ offense if he keeps this up when the pads come on.

Jauan Jennings' rise

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Jennings closed 2021 with a bang. Over their last five regular-season games he caught 16 balls for 212 yards and three touchdowns. That productivity has continued through the offseason, including a day where reporters had him for three touchdowns in red-zone drills on the first day of minicamp. As with McCloud, we’ll have to see what it looks like when the intensity gets cranked up, but it’s very easy to see based on last year how Jennings could take on a sizable offensive role this year.

Drake Jackson's strong start

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Offensive linemen and defensive linemen don’t go against each other in OTAs and minicamp. That makes it hard to project players at either position. Jackson, the No. 61 overall pick in this year’s draft, still managed to stand out for San Francisco though. He drew high praise from teammates, including Nick Bosa who told reporters, “he’s super talented, he does things out there I definitely couldn’t do as a rookie.” It’s only one step, but it’s a good step for Jackson.

Trey Lance checks the box

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Lance’s job in OTAs and minicamp was to just be good. He drew high praise from the defense and both coaches and players have talked a lot about his growth as a leader in the QB1 role. It’ll be paramount for Lance to play well with pads on when he has a pass rush in his face. What we know so far though shows improvement from the signal caller we saw in 10 quarters last season.

Interior OL battle begins

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

There are still battles to play out at the three interior offensive line positions. It looks like Aaron Banks is the frontrunner at left guard though. He got the first-team reps there. Jake Brendel was the center, and Jaylon Moore slotted in at right guard. Daniel Brunskill sat out with knee tendonitis, but he’ll factor into the race at both center and right guard. Expect some other names to emerge, but it wouldn’t be a huge shock if Banks-Brendel-Moore was the interior OL in Week 1.

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