Top 5 storylines entering 49ers training camp
A lot of question marks
The 49ers open training camp with a lot of unproven players and competition for key roles on both sides of the ball. After a five-victory season under one-and-done coach Jim Tomsula, the 49ers turn to Chip Kelly. He brings his unique personality and approach to the organization after his three-year tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles ended in chaos following consecutive 10-win seasons....
5) Wideouts look for separation
Anquan Boldin, the 49ers’ leading receiver the past three seasons, signed with the Detroit Lions. That leaves the 49ers with Torrey Smith as the No. 1 receiver and a bunch of question marks behind him. Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, Jerome Simpson, DeAndre Smelter and Eric Rogers are among the receivers who are vying for significant roles in an offense that is expected to spread the field with multiple receiver combinations. The 49ers need several of those unproven options to rise above the crowd.
4) Does Anthony Davis fit in?
Right tackle was an obvious weakness along the 49ers’ offensive line after Davis abruptly “retired” in June 2015. Davis has filed for reinstatement. He enters camp with the ability to prove himself and regain his old starting job. Davis did not take part in the 49ers’ offseason program, so there were many inside the organization who questioned his commitment. Erik Pears, Trent Brown, John Theus and Fahn Cooper are among the players also competing for Davis’ job.
3) Jimmie Ward's role
Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil believes Ward is among the 49ers’ best 11 defensive players. Ward saw a lot of action during the offseason program at right cornerback. He will get a chance to establish himself as one of the team’s starters at that position. The 49ers have invested seven draft picks the past three years in cornerbacks, so Ward will have to win the job over the likes of Kenneth Acker, Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser, Will Redmond, Rashard Robinson, and others.
2) The quarterback competition
All the conjecture about whether Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert is the best fit for Kelly’s system will finally be resolved. Kaepernick has the dual-threat capabilities. Gabbert is widely viewed as the passer with the quicker release and more accurate arm. Kaepernick’s career completion percentage is 59.9, while Gabbert is just a 55.8 career passer. But Gabbert completed a career-best 63.1 percent in his eight starts with the 49ers last season, and he appears to have the support of the locker room.
1) How will Chip Kelly connect?
All reviews from Kelly’s first offseason with the 49ers were positive. Of course, that is to be expected from those trying to earn jobs with a new coach. He must connect better with the players. That was a major criticism of his time in Philadelphia. It took the players awhile to adjust to his high-tempo practices during the offseason. With pads going on in training camp, things will not get easier. But the team will practice earlier in the day, and the workouts will be shorter.