Tevin Coleman

These important competitions begin this week for 49ers during OTAs

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AP

These important competitions begin this week for 49ers during OTAs

Organized team activities are all about the passing games – offense and defense.

Those areas are where the most important competitions will take place on the practice field as the 49ers slowly start to prepare for their season opener on Sept. 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Full pads are not allowed to be worn in practices during the offseason program, so the real competitions begin the third day of training camp, which opens in late-July. That's when practices change from two-hand-touch to real football.

This week marks the first time since the end of last season that offense vs. defense competition is allowed to take place on the 49ers’ practice field. Although 9-on-7 run drills are permitted, it’s the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills where reasonable opinions can start to be formed.

Here are the positions where players have a chance to take leads in their competitions heading into training camp:

Quarterback

The 49ers will take it slowly with Jimmy Garoppolo, who faces no challenge for the starting job. Garoppolo is not expected to see any 11-on-11 practice snaps until training camp.

The competition will be for the backup job.

Nick Mullens produced better statistics last season in his eight starts, during which the 49ers went 3-5 (winning 75 percent of their games for the season). But the 49ers have not given up on C.J. Beathard, a third-round draft pick in 2017.

Beathard’s skillset and toughness keep him in this competition. Mullens has his limitations, but he performed at an exceptionally high level when given his opportunity last year. Only Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton threw for more yards in their first eight NFL starts.

But all that means is that Mullens, now, will be given a fair shot to win the backup job. He and Beathard start this offseason on equal footing.

Running back

Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman likely will be expected to share the load at running back with Matt Breida not far behind. Breida proved to be a reliable pass-catcher last season. He still needs work with his route running, and this is a great time for him to polish those skills.

Coleman has experience in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. That's a huge advantage. There is no hurry to get McKinnon on the field after he missed all of last season with a torn ACL he sustained a week before the start of the regular season.

Wide receiver

There should be competition at every level of the team at this position. Dante Pettis is the closest thing to a “lock” to be a starter. He caught just 27 passes in 12 games as a rookie, but he averaged 17.3 yards and had five touchdowns.

Rookie Deebo Samuel, the 49ers’ second-round draft pick, will compete against the field, including Kendrick Bourne, for the duties on the other side. Bourne was the 49ers’ leading wide receiver last season with 42 receptions for 487 yards and four touchdowns.

Marquise Goodwin, Jordan Matthews and rookie Jalen Hurd will be angling for significant roles, while Trent Taylor and Richie James are the candidates for the primary slot job.

Cornerback

The offseason program is huge for Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore. There is no questioning the physical talent of both players. They were third-round draft picks in 2017 and ’18, respectively.

Witherspoon vs. Moore could be an elimination battle during the offseason program to see which of those players will go against Jason Verrett in training camp.

Verrett is coming back from a torn Achilles, which he sustained during the camp-opening conditioning test last summer with the Los Angeles Chargers. Verrett is not expected to cut it loose during the offseason program, so Witherspoon and Moore will have the advantage of a full offseason of preparation.

Safety

Jimmie Ward has bounced around from free safety to cornerback over the past few years. He is back at free safety after signing a one-year contract with the club in the offseason. Adrian Colbert entered last offseason as the starter at free safety, but now the onus is on him to beat out Ward.

The free safety position is more on display during non-padded practices than strong safety, because so much of being a box safety is coming up to finish tackles in the run game. Jaquiski Tartt and second-year player Marcell Harris will compete for that job. Pass coverage is important there, too, but that job will be won after the pads go on.

[RELATED: 49ers Insider Podcast . . . previewing organized team activities]

The rules during Phase Three allow for players to be at the facility for six hours a day for a maximum of three organized team activities during the first and second weeks. No pads are allowed, except for protective knee and elbow pads. Helmets are permitted.

49ers OTA workouts
This week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
May 28-29, May 31
June 3-4, June 6

Mandatory minicamp
June 11-13

Six 49ers newcomers who should make biggest impact on team in 2019

Six 49ers newcomers who should make biggest impact on team in 2019

There were plenty of reasons, in addition to a spate of injuries, for the 49ers finishing last season with just four victories and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

General manager John Lynch addressed many of the 49ers' weaknesses through free agency, the draft and one noteworthy trade.

As the 49ers near the halfway point of their offseason program, here is a look at the newcomers who should make the biggest impacts during the 2019 season:

DEs Dee Ford/Nick Bosa

The team’s lack of an outside pass rush was its fatal flaw last season. There was nobody at the edge positions to complement DeForest Buckner, who emerged as one of the league’s top inside pass-rushers.

As a result, quarterbacks had plenty of time to throw and could pick apart the 49ers’ pass defense. The 49ers managed an NFL single-season all-time worst two interceptions on the season. General manager John Lynch did something about it.

A year ago, the team’s primary outside pass-rushers were Cassius Marsh and Ronald Blair. Marsh has already been cut, and Blair now figures to be a rotational player behind Dee Ford and Nick Bosa.

Ford was acquired from Kansas City for a second-round draft pick in 2020. Ford, 28, had a career-best 13 sacks last season. The 49ers signed Ford to a five-year, $85 million contract upon completion of the trade.

Bosa, the former Ohio State star, is a technician as a pass-rusher. He has active hands and unique lower-body strength, bend and balance. The outside pass rush was the team’s major weakness last season. Now, it could be the 49eres’ strength.

WR Deebo Samuel

The 49ers were afforded the rare opportunity to spend a week around Deebo Samuel as they coached him at the Senior Bowl. They liked what they saw.

The 49ers came to the conclusion that Samuel has the speed, route-running and toughness to step into the starting lineup as a rookie. The 49ers selected him with the No. 36 overall pick.

The addition of Samuel should enable the team to move Marquise Goodwin to a more specialized role to take advantage of his rare speed. Samuel and Dante Pettis, the team’s second-round pick last season, figure to be the team’s top two wideouts this season.

Kendrick Bourne, the 49ers’ top-producing wide receiver last season, should continue to have a role as part of the team’s receiver rotation.

LB Kwon Alexander

Despite seeing Kwon Alexander’s fourth NFL season come to an early end with a torn ACL, the 49ers made him their No. 1 priority in free agency. Alexander was signed to take over the spot the 49ers had envisioned Reuben Foster playing for the foreseeable future until numerous off-field issues prompted the 49ers to cut Foster.

Assuming he returns to form after completing his rehab, Alexander is an explosive, dynamic player the 49ers lacked in the middle of their defense. His playmaking should enable the 49ers to improve dramatically in the takeaway category.

Alexander and second-year player Fred Warner should be a good pairing at the middle linebacker and weakside linebacker positions.

RB Tevin Coleman

The 49ers did not go into free agency planning on adding a starting-caliber running back, but Tevin Coleman fell in their laps after a brief courting of Le’Veon Bell went nowhere. Bell and Coleman share the same agent, and Coleman ended up being delivered to the 49ers on a two-year, $8.5 million contract.

Coleman, 26, is a speedster who gained 800 yards (4.8-yard average) and four touchdowns on the ground with 32 catches for 276 yards and five TDs in the passing game last season.

Coleman joins a 49ers stable of running backs that includes Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert. Coleman will certainly carve out a role in Shanahan’s offense after the two were together during the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Falcons.

CB Jason Verrett

The 49ers like a lot of things about cornerback Jason Verrett, and they consider him a legitimate starting cornerback.

[RELATED: Nick Bosa knew from an early age he wanted to rush the passer]

However, Verrett, 27, has been unable to stay healthy long enough to demonstrate his vast potential. He was the Chargers’ first-round draft pick in 2014. But in five years in the NFL, Verrett has appeared in just 25 games due to shoulder, knee and Achilles’ injuries.

If he can get healthy and stay healthy, Verrett has a strong chance of winning the starting job opposite Richard Sherman.

49ers schedule predictions: Wins, losses projected for 2019 season

49ers schedule predictions: Wins, losses projected for 2019 season

It's officially prediction season. The 49ers' schedule for the 2019 regular season was released on Wednesday, and there are plenty of interesting matchups.

Entering Year 3 of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch at the helm, the 49ers look to build upon a disappointing 4-12 season. Will they be playoff contenders or find themselves at selecting at the top of the draft again?

With some solid additions in free agency, a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo and the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft, we expect a promising season. 

VIEW 49ERS GAME-BY-GAME PREDICTIONS HERE