As Kyle Shanahan said (in so many words) earlier this year: The spring is for learning the playbook, the summer is where the roster jockeying begins.
With that in mind, here’s how the depth chart looked when the spring sessions ended as well as some of the storylines to come when training camp gets underway. Players report to camp on Thursday, and the first practice is Friday.
Next up: offensive line.
LT: Joe Staley, John Theus, Darrell Williams Jr.
LG: Zane Beadles, Brandon Fusco, Andrew Lauderdale
C: Daniel Kilgore, Jeremy Zuttah, Tim Barnes, John Flynn
RG: Joshua Garnett, Norman Price, Richard Levy
RT: Trent Brown, Garry Gilliam, Erik Magnuson.
▪ The only players who are sure-fire starters are Staley and, if he shows up at training camp in shape, Brown. The interior linemen are jockeying for position, and Fusco and Zuttah both were rotated into the first-string offense at times in the spring. Zuttah dealt with a hamstring injury and practiced sparingly. The former Baltimore Raven has extensive experience both at center and left guard.
▪ Last year Brown dealt with several small injuries in the spring and was in noticeably poor condition during 2016 OTAs and minicamps. The good news is that he made great strides between spring and training camp that year and quickly locked down a starting spot. If he has a similar transformation this year he should have no issues. The big right tackle wasn’t in terrific shape in the spring but looked far better than he had a year ago.
▪ Shanahan places a lot of responsibilities on his centers and because of that has looked in the past for veteran, experienced players at that position. Zuttah fits that description, but his absences in the spring gave Kilgore, who doesn’t have a huge number of NFL starts to his credit but who is very bright, a toehold at the position. If Kilgore wins the competition at center, Beadles could see more competition at left guard.
▪ The 49ers must have at least three players capable of playing tackle in uniform on game days. Beadles proved he could play there in a pinch last season. But it’s Theus, a second-year player, and Gilliam, a free-agent pickup, who essentially are competing for that role.