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Why Ricky Pearsall’s strong OTA showing matters

Typically a strong performance in OTAs isn’t particularly notable. There are no pads on, not every player is participating, and the general environment has significantly less urgency than training camp or the regular season. However, there’s at least some significance to rookie wide receiver Ricky Pearsall standing out in those early sessions.

Pearsall’s performance in the voluntary and mandatory portions of the offseason program was noted by several reporters on site at the 49ers practice facility. Matt Barrows of the Athletic wrote an entire piece about how the first-round pick has made a mark in those sessions.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan also spoke highly of Pearsall’s early work with the club and quarterback Brock Purdy.

“It’s been fun to watch both of them,” Shanahan said in a June 4 press conference. “I know Brock doesn’t always get to watch how the route gets there, but he knows when guys end up in the right spot and they catch it. That’s where quarterbacks get comfortable and I think he can fill that with Ricky right away. I mean, he’s been getting to the right spot and when he has made mistakes, he understands it and corrects it. I think that’s why those guys are gonna have a lot of fun working together.”

This is at least a minor deal because it puts Pearsall on a good trajectory heading into camp.

It wouldn’t have been a bad thing if Pearsall hadn’t stood out in any meaningful way. It would have been a bad thing if he stood out for being actively bad. But if he’d just been another WR there’d still be chances for him to make his mark in training camp and beyond.

That he stood out for his strong outings with expanded reps because of absences from other receivers is a great sign for the 49ers. Pearsall performing well in his first ever OTAs gives optimism that he’ll be able to hit the ground running once camp starts, pads come on, hitting begins and the competitions get more real.

The 49ers need their first-round pick to be a high-quality player and so far he’s checked every box and then some.

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire