‘Joe is the best.’ 49ers rookie tackle Mike McGlinchey on learning from veteran Joe Staley
Here's where the 49ers' nine-man draft class stands heading into training camp. Players will report on July 25, and the first practice is the following day.
1. OT Mike McGlinchey. Most teams will make their top picks go through a faux he-has-to-earn-it phase in the off-season in which he begins practicing with the second- or third-team groups and — surprise, surprise — ends up working his way onto the first-team squad. The 49ers dispensed with that in McGlinchey's case. After all, they traded their starting right tackle, Trent Brown, to the New England Patriots almost immediately upon taking McGlinchey. The true test for any lineman, offensive and defensive, comes when the pads go on for the first time in training camp and the team has its first one-on-one pass-rush drills. Still, it was hard to tell in the spring that McGlinchey was a rookie; he looked as if he belonged on the right side of the offensive line and was a seamless fit in the Joe Staley-led locker room as well. Remains unsigned.
2. WR Dante Pettis. The 49ers like Pettis because he's smart enough and versatile enough to line up at all three wide receiver spots. He mainly spent the spring at two of those, slot receiver and on the outside where Marquie Goodwin plays. Injuries to Trent Taylor and, later, to Goodwin allowed Pettis and all the young receivers to get plenty of practice snaps, and Pettis had his best session of the spring on Day 1 of the minicamp last week. He was nicked for Day 2 of the camp. Pettis may not be an immediate starter for the 49ers, but given his versatility — and his punt-return skills — he's likely to be in uniform in Week 1. "It’s just nice when you have guys who can do different things that you aren’t handcuffed in a game," Kyle Shanahan said of Pettis. "Similar to how Aldrick Robinson has been for us. He’s fast enough to do some of that stuff, but he also can do the things that other guys do, which just allows you to overcome. If we could dress 15 receivers every game, none of that stuff would matter. But it’s what you get up on game day and how to get through a game.” Remains unsigned.
3A. LB Fred Warner. The 49ers started Warner at the more difficult of the two inside linebacker spots, "Mike" linebacker, which calls the plays for the defense and deals with more blockers than the more run-and-chase "Will" linebacker. That was significant for two reasons. 1.) He's just a rookie. 2.) He played a quasi safety-nickel back-linebacker role at BYU and typically didn't have to sift through a lot of heavy traffic. Still, Warner had a very strong spring and even took some first-team repetitions when Malcolm Smith was nicked. Like the first two picks, the 49ers are impressed by Warner's smarts. The team appears to be set with a starting duo of Smith and Reuben Foster this season. Warner, however, already has put himself in a position to be the first inside linebacker off the bench, no small role given that Foster likely will serve some sort of suspension this year and that Smith and Foster missed a combined 23 starts last season due to injury. Signed four-year deal.
3B. CB Tarvarius Moore. For the second straight year, the 49ers gambled on a cornerback in the third round. Last year, it was Ahkello Witherspoon, who had a delayed start in football due to being a late bloomer in high school but who seemed to get stronger and more confident as his rookie season went on. Moore, meanwhile, started only one season at Southern Mississippi and did so at free safety. The 49ers loved his athletic traits, especially his length, speed and fluidity, and they think he can be a cornerback. The early returns were good. He began the spring with the third-team group but by the minicamp was working with the second-team defense with even a few first-team snaps sprinkled in. He and Witherspoon appear to be the team's starting cornerbacks of the future. The question is, how much can the team rely on Moore in Year 1? He's not someone they can sneak onto the practice squad. Signed four-year deal.
4. DL Kentavius Street. He suffered an ACL tear in a pre-draft workout and won't play this season. The plan is for Street to play either defensive tackle where DeForest Buckner is the starter or "big end" where Arik Armstead starts. Both Armstead and Buckner's backup, Sheldon Day, are signed through 2019. Signed four-year deal.
5. DB D.J. Reed. He was a cornerback in college but played free safety, mostly with the second-team defense, this spring. If starting free safety Adrian Colbert had to leave a game this year, the 49ers undoubtedly would insert Jimmie Ward there. Ward, however, is entering the final year of his contract, and the 49ers are eying Reed as someone who, like Ward, can play both nickel cornerback and free safety. Signed four-year deal.
6. SS Marcell Harris. He sat out all of the spring sessions with an Achilles injury suffered last year. Harris is expected back for the start of training camp, when he will battle second-year player Chanceller James, veterans Don Jones and Antone Exum and undrafted Terrell Williams Jr. for the role of Jaquiski Tartt's backup. The 49ers like Harris' size — 6-1, 216 pounds — as well as his rough-and-tumble enforcer attitude. Signed four-year deal.
7A. DL Jullian Taylor. Like Street, the 49ers plan to play Taylor (6-5, 280) at both defensive tackle and "big end." He lined up at "big end" in base defense with the third-team defense and slid inside to defensive tackle on nickel downs with that group. Injuries in college limited Taylor to just 15 games in four seasons. If he can stay healthy, he seems like someone who will exceed his draft status. Signed four-year deal.
7B. WR Richie James. By the end of the 49ers' minicamp, at least four receivers — Goodwin, Taylor, Pettis and Max McCaffrey — were sidelined with minor injuries, and the 49ers were being cautious with the oldest player at the position, Pierre Garcon. That allowed youngsters like James plenty of valuable repetitions. He looked fine, but Kendrick Bourne, Aaron Burbridge, Aldrick Robinson and Victor Bolden all looked better or at least were more conspicuous. Barring more injuries at the position, James seems like a longshot to make the 53-man squad this season. Of course, at this point last year, no one believed Colbert, who, like James, was the team's final draft choice, was anything more than a practice squad candidate. He's now a starter. Signed four-year deal.