Can Trey Lance take charge? Starter at security? 10 questions as the 49ers begin OTAs

Can Trey Lance take charge?  Starter at security?  10 questions as the 49ers begin OTAs
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Jimmy Garoppolo will be out of sight for 49ers‘ OTA practices, which begin on Monday. He won’t be mad.

Because Garoppolo remains on the roster, there’s an idea – whether true or not – that it’s not quite Trey Lance‘steam. Or that the 49ers aren’t sure about Lance. Or that they at least hedge their bets. Which brings us to the first and most important question as the 49ers begin OTAs: Can Lance reassure everyone that he is indeed ready to take over?

It’s like a palace drama in which a young prince is about to take the throne but must first navigate between other suitors and whisper campaigns designed to undermine him. The best way to do this is to act like the rightful heir – to show strength and leadership and otherwise signal that you can handle the job.

So far, Lance has gone about it the right way.

Before arriving in Santa Clara last month for the start of the offseason program, he spent the previous two months at 3DQB in Orange County, Calif., where he worked with the quarterback coach Adam Dedeaux.

Despite having little playing time as a rookie, Lance suffered a number of injuries including a bent finger (pre-season) and a knee injury (Week 5). Dedeaux said bad habits will inevitably set in when a quarterback compensates for injuries — it happens to all passers — and that Lance’s time in Orange County was mostly spent smoothing out the tough spots in his throwing motion and getting him ready for the 49ers offseason program. , which began on April 19.

“It was mainly about making him healthy, strong, feeling good again after his stroke,” Dedeaux said. “No major edits or anything – just kind of a throwback to it.”

Dedeaux and his group have worked with quarterbacks coached by Kyle Shanahan since 2016, when matt ryanthen with the Falcons, was a customer. Ancient NFL Quarterback John Beck, who played under Shanahan in Washington, is also an instructor at 3DQB and the group knows exactly what Shanahan is looking for and trains 49ers quarterbacks accordingly.

“We know the attack, we know what he wants,” said Dedeaux. “We use the same training, the same verbiage. Everything is suitable for (Lance). When he trains with us, he works solo. So there’s no distraction from other quarterbacks or other systems. This is very specifically Kyle’s 49ers offense.

Dedeaux said Lance was one of the first NFL quarterbacks to arrive at the end of the season and would be back in Orange County to work on more specific adjustments to his motion when the the 49ers’ spring session will end in June.

“I can’t say more about how he approaches it – he works hard and wants to learn, he’s totally coachable,” Dedeaux said. “He did everything we asked of him.”

The 49ers’ first OTA workout is today. Media will be able to watch Tuesday’s session. Here are nine more questions as the sessions begin…

2. Who will be present?

Any of these players could arrive this week, but the 49ers have gone through the voluntary offseason program so far without: Garoppolo, who is recovering from shoulder surgery in March, Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa, Alex Mac, Dee Ford and Trent Williams.

The team, of course, are in the midst of a grueling contract negotiation with Samuel, whose absence from OTAs was telegraphed in April. Bosa, who is also up for a new contract, trained in his native South Florida with his older brother, Joey, which he would likely do whether he had a long-term contract or not.

The 49ers plan to cut Ford next month. Mack is still considering retirement while Williams, a 12-year veteran, simply doesn’t need to practice at this point in the offseason. In fact, you could say the 49ers better assess younger players at Williams’ position. Which brings us to our next question…

3. What will the offensive line look like?

The 49ers have plenty of linemen who can play guard or tackle. Either center or guard. Or in the case of Daniel Brunskill, centre, fullback or tackle. There will inevitably be reshuffles as the offseason continues and position coach Chris Foerster finds the right adjustments in every location, but there should be a reveal on Tuesday – which the 49ers consider to be the first for the swing tackle.

Assuming Williams isn’t there, the 49ers will have saves at left tackle and right tackle, where Mike McGlinchey continues to recover from last year’s quadriceps tear. (He aims to be back in training camp.)

One of the best candidates is Justin Skule, who is training again after tearing his ACL in June. Others include Jaylon Moore, Colton McKivitzfourth-round pick Spencer Burford and sixth-round pick Nick Zakelj. This group has also been discussed on guard, which is why the lineup remains murky.

4. Who are the centers?

Jake Brendel turns 30 in September, he hasn’t had any real playing time since the 2018 season and he could be the 49ers’ starting center for Week 1.

“He’s not a household name, but we have great confidence in his abilities,” chief executive John Lynch said last month.

With Mack hesitant about retirement, Brendel will likely be the first-team center during OTAs. Who else will get a shot there? Candidates include Brunskill, who is also the starting right guard, Zakelj and undrafted rookies West Dohnovan and jason poe.

How Brendel handles the position in the spring may determine whether the 49ers bring in a more experienced center in the summer.

5. Who is the safety starter?

When OTAs started last year, Jaquiski pie was dealing with a persistent toe problem. When they start on Monday, Tartt won’t be on the roster and we’ll have an idea of ​​how the 49ers plan to replace the longtime starter.

The main candidates are last year’s fifth-round pick, Talanoa Hufangaand Tarvarius Moorewhose June Achilles tear wiped out his 2021 season but is back in full swing.

They are different players. Moore is fast and long, spent a year at cornerback and wasn’t always the best tackler. Hufanga is excellent around the line of scrimmage, but has linebacker speed and isn’t known for covering much ground in the secondary.

Because of their different skill sets, perhaps the question — who starts? – is debatable. The 49ers could rotate Hufanga and Moore depending on the situation.

Veteran Newcomer Georges Odum and undrafted recruits Leon O’Neal and Taylor Hawkins also features in the security mix.

6. Can Brandon Aïyuk burst in 2022?

A year ago, Samuel was a man on a mission. He was focused on bouncing back from a disappointing 2020 season and he used a strong offseason as a stepping stone to a breakout regular season.

With Samuel out at the moment, Aiyuk becomes the team’s hottest receiver. Like Samuel a year ago, he has put himself in a good position as spring training begins. He finished 2021 on a high (he averaged 71.3 receiving yards over the last eight games), he entered the offseason in good health, he trained with Lance in the county of ‘Orange and he’s been training in Santa Clara for months.

When asked about Samuel last year, Garoppolo regularly said he was impressed with the way Samuel took on a leadership role in the receiver’s room, repeatedly noting that Samuel was on the front line for each exercise. Aiyuk, on the other hand, was often last in line for these exercises, at least at the start of the season. He has a golden opportunity to take charge of Year 3.

7. Who is the nickel cornerback?

The 49ers have a great list of candidates to replace K’Waun Williams at nickel cornerback, but it’s hard to pinpoint a Week 1 favorite for the job.

It’s possible the veteran of the group, Darqueze Dennard, runs with the first teams this week. Other options include Deommodore Lenoir and a pair of rookies: fifth-round picks Samuel Womack and not drafted Qwantrezz Knight.

8. Dr. Greenlaw or Azeez Al Shaair to the weakside linebacker?

Greenlaw or Al-Shaair? This is a question that we could also ask ourselves at the end of the season.

Both linebackers are slated to become unrestricted free agents in March, and it’s hard to see the 49ers hanging on to both.

Greenlaw, of course, missed most of 2021 with a groin injury, which gave Al-Shaair an opportunity to shine at weakside linebacker, who, unlike the strongside linebacker, is a full role. When Al-Shaair was bumped at the end of the season, Greenlaw returned to his old role and started every game from Week 18 to the playoffs.

The catch here: Whoever ends up playing weakside linebacker the most could be the most coveted free agent and could therefore be the one to leave.

9. How does it work Javon Kinlaw watch?

No, Kinlaw will not be training after undergoing ACL surgery midway through the season. But he would have rehabilitated himself well in the team facilities, looked slimmer when watching from the touchline on a recent home pro day, and it will be interesting to see how he moves on the side court.

Kinlaw falls far short of Lance’s level of review. Still, he’s yet to deliver on the promise that comes with being a first-round pick, and the 49ers believe his knee surgery should unlock his potential. It will be under the microscope in 2022.

It will also be interesting to see who will line up for him at defensive tackle this spring. Last year, DJ Jones filled the role with great fanfare, but he is a member of the Denver Broncos now. The list of candidates includes Kevin Givens, Maurice Hurst, Kerry Hyder Jr. and Hassan Ridgeway.

10. What does a new look in the RB room mean?

It was clear Sermon Trey didn’t exactly pass Bobby Turner’s test last season.

The longtime running backs coach is the hard-to-please keeper when it comes to a running back’s playing time and runs. And although Sermon started two early-season games as a rookie, that was due to the rudimentary state of the running back room at the time. When the position became even more stable, Sermon’s playing time all but disappeared.

Sermon now has another chance to make a first impression. Turner is recovering from surgery this season and Anthony Lynn has taken his place. It’s important to note that Lynn is a disciple of Turner — he played for Turner and was on the same Broncos coaching staff as Turner — and likely views the position the same way.

Still, it will be up to Lynn to determine the pecking order of running backs this season, which means an opportunity for Sermon and the others.

(Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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