San Francisco 49ers Rookie Stock Report, Camp Edition
If the San Francisco 49ers are going to get over the hump and return to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1994 season, they may have to get some contributions from a few of the 23 rookies currently in training camp.
First-round pick A.J. Jenkins from Illinois has already drawn some ire for poor conditioning. Running back LaMichael James could be an excellent change-of-pace back to ground-and-pound starter Frank Gore.
Guard Joe Looney, a fourth-round pick from Wake Forest, will get significant reps on the line.
Those are the top three, but that doesn’t mean others haven’t stood out thus far in camp.
Running Backs LaMichael James and Jewel Hampton
James comes with high expectations. He was the team’s second-round pick after putting up incredible numbers at Oregon. James’ numbers increased in each of his three seasons at Oregon. He finished his career with 1,805 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last season. For his career, he tallied 5,082 rushing yards with nearly seven yards per attempt, 586 receiving yards and 58 total touchdowns.
Even as he adjusts to having plays called in the huddle, James’ stock is going up.
Hampton was also a productive tailback in college. The former Southern Illinois standout has been called a “bowling ball with legs” and capped a nice college career after transferring from Iowa. Hampton had a pair of knee injuries in college and began training camp on the physically unable to perform list with some bone spurs. That could buy him more time to make the roster once the season begins.
Fullback Cameron Bell
Bell is an undrafted rookie from Northern Illinois, where he helped the Huskies win the MAC championship.
Bell switched to fullback last year after playing tailback. He helped pave the way for Chandler Harnish, who rushed for 1,379 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Jasmin Hopkins added another 997 yards and 15 rushing TDs.
While he could push Bruce Miller for the job, it’s doubtful that Bell makes the final 53-man roster.
Wide Receivers A.J. Jenkins, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer and Brian Tyms
Jenkins shot his way into the first round of the draft by catching 90 passes for 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns for the Illinois Fighting Illini last year. He followed that up with a good combined workout. Still, the Niners surprised some when they picked Jenkins 30th overall.
Coach Jim Harbaugh has called critics of Jenkins clueless and has defended his top pick. Harbaugh has to say that, but media members don’t and have seen an out-of-shape Jenkins struggle to learn the offense.
One player who has been impressive is Palmer, undrafted out of Northern Illinois. The Niners liked him enough to give him a $10,000 signing bonus and he’s lived up to their expectations thus far.
Tyms, from Florida A&M, started some trouble when he was kicked off the practice field last week after pushing a teammate. He has since come back strong, trying to get back in the coaches’ good graces.
Owusu, a Stanford product, has to prove that his history of concussions is a thing of the past. Owusu has the skills to play in the NFL and has looked good in camp.
Tight End Garrett Celek
Celek is the younger brother of Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek.
The younger Celek was a good blocker for Sparty before shoulder surgery shelved him. Garrett Celek is best known for his hot model girlfriend, Sarah Hinton, and that’s usually not a good thing when talking about a guy’s chances to make an NFL roster.
Guards Joe Looney, Al Netter and Jason Slowey
Looney has gotten off to a slow start while rehabbing from a Lisfranc foot injury from the Senior Bowl. But he was cleared for practice this week. He’s got some catching up to do, but has the talent to eventually unseat Alex Boone at right guard. The Niners really like Looney, trading up in the draft to get him.
Netter gets moved inside after playing tackle at Northwestern. Slowey got some early reps at right guard, but the sixth-round pick from Western Oregon won’t really factor into the competition. He does have value in that he can play either guard spot and center.
Defensive Linemen Patrick Butrym, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Matthew Masifilo
Butrym, from Wisconsin, is a tenacious worker, but has been getting pushed around by San Francisco’s offensive linemen.
Jerod-Eddie has played well so far in camp, but it’ll be hard for the talented former Texas A&M standout to climb a crowded depth chart. The same goes for Masifilo, who played for coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. Masifilo is behind Pro Bowler Justin Smith, Demarcus Dobbs and Butrym at right defensive end on the initial depth chart.
Linebackers Kourtnei Brown, Darius Fleming, Joe Holland and Cam Johnson
Fleming and Johnson were both draft picks—Fleming a fifth-rounder from Notre Dame and Johnson, a former defensive end at Virginia who was taken in the seventh round.
Johnson has overcome a lot to get to the NFL and is slowed early in camp because of a procedure to clean out his knee.
Fleming will spend his rookie season on injured reserve after tearing an ACL during the rookie mini-camp in May.
Brown, undrafted out of Clemson, has been compared to Aldon Smith. It was a bit of a surprise for Brown to go undrafted and he’s done pretty well to date in camp. He could be one of the final players to make the 53. Holland, a Purdue product, has been hampered by a foot injury in June. He’s played well at times in camp, but not consistently enough to battle for a roster spot.
Cornerbacks Anthony Mosley and Deanté Purvis
Mosley and Purvis, undrafted from Kentucky and UNLV, respectively, have a lot of speed. Both face a crowded and talented secondary, so it’ll be difficult for either to make a dent in the roster. They could be practice squad material.
Purvis has had the best camp of the two, showing a knack for interceptions.
Safeties Trenton Robinson and Michael Thomas
Thomas is one of six former Stanford players on the 49ers' roster. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thomas can make the team, but that doesn’t mean he will.
Robinson is a Bay City native and was the team’s sixth-round choice this year. He played college ball at Michigan State, where he had 80 tackles and four interceptions last year. Robinson is in an ongoing competition with C.J. Spillman for the third safety spot.
Both Robinson and Thomas must play well on special teams if either wants to earn a roster spot.
Placekicker Giorgio Tavecchio
Tavecchio, a Pac-12 honorable mention selection last season from California, is a former soccer player who didn’t start playing football until his sophomore year of high school.
With David Akers coming off of a Pro Bowl season, Tavecchio is a camp kicker with no chance of making the 49ers' final roster. What he can get out of camp is putting a few kicks on tape during preseason games and hope that another team in need of a kicker likes what they see.
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