San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers opened rookie minicamp. Here’s why they didn’t let Nick Bosa go full speed

Watch No. 2 overall draft pick Nick Bosa practice with 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers drafted Nick Bosa with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. He practiced with the team on May 3, 2019.
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The San Francisco 49ers drafted Nick Bosa with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. He practiced with the team on May 3, 2019.

The 49ers were in no hurry to see what Nick Bosa could do against undrafted free agents and tryout players. They already know the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL draft is going to have a prominent role along the defensive line come Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bosa was limited in his practice debut Friday at the team’s rookie minicamp. He participated in individual drills and one-on-one pass rushing sessions where he worked closely with new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, who is every bit as animated and extreme as advertised.

Bosa didn’t participate in full-team, 11-on-11 drills. He was held out largely as a precaution because it was his first action since he last played for Ohio State on Sept. 15 against TCU, when he suffered a bilateral core muscle injury that required surgery, thus ending his college career before he decided to turn pro.

But Bosa didn’t look encumbered by the injury while pushing off against the sled or weaving through a series of dummies with the rest of the defensive linemen. In passing, he expressed excitement to be back on the practice field and mentioned how much he appreciated Kocurek’s intensity in their relationship that’s been roughly a week in the making. Bosa hasn’t spoken to reporters since his introductory press conference April 26.

The 49ers had 58 players at Friday’s practice. All eight of their draftees were there, as were 10 undrafted free agents who officially signed their contracts Friday.

The remaining 40 tryout players will spend the weekend hoping to impress general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and the scouting department enough to offer them a spot on the 90-man offseason roster. The team entered the rookie minicamp with 89 players under contract, indicating they may add a tryout player for the remainder of the offseason program.

That might be another reason the 49ers withheld Bosa from full-team drills. The last thing they want coming out of minicamp is an over-aggressive tryout player doing something that might lead to Bosa suffering an injury.

One 49ers veteran stood on the sideline and observed practice, noting his own excitement for OTA practices to ramp up later this month and join Bosa for practice. The on-field portion of San Francisco’s offseason program is tentatively scheduled for the third week of May.

The highlight of the day came when undrafted free agent tight end Tyree Mayfield of Wyoming made a one-handed snag over the middle of the field during seven-on-seven drills.

The team’s Day 2 selections in the draft, receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, received the bulk of their work with the “first team” offense. Samuel also fielded punts from fourth-round pick Mitch Wishnowsky, who showed off his big leg that impressed San Francisco leading up to the draft.

Samuel struggled to field punts cleanly, which is to be expected given the swirling afternoon winds which are customary at 49ers practices.

Hurd, the 6-foot-5 receiver who eventually could turn into a tight end, looked every bit as athletic as advertised and doesn’t lumber like other players his size. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw, the fifth-round pick from Arkansas, manned the “Mike” linebacker spot. Sixth-round pick Tim Harris worked at right cornerback, which is the spot typically opposite of Richard Sherman.

The rookie minicamp is all about shaking off the cobwebs from the offseason – and for rookies to make their first impressions with their new coaching staffs.

“Just show the coaches and everyone in person that I can play at that high level and just show my versatility, play wherever they want me to play and whatever way I can help the team,” said sixth-round pick Justin Skule, a tackle from Vanderbilt who will compete to backup Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey.

Former Stanford tight end Kaden Smith, also a sixth-round choice, showed off his route running and catching ability throughout Friday’s session. He should enter training camp this summer as the favorite for the No. 3 tight end job behind George Kittle and Garrett Celek.

“It’s great to just go out on the field again and compete against other guys,” Smith said. “I want to understand where I’m at right now and continue to develop my skill and get ready for the next thing.”

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Chris Biderman has covered the 49ers since 2013 and began covering the team for The Sacramento Bee in August 2018. He previously spent time with the Associated Press and USA TODAY Sports Media Group. A Santa Rosa native, he graduated with a degree in journalism from The Ohio State University.

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