At the start of the work week, any development associated with the San Francisco 49ers’ OTAs wouldn’t have qualified as a very compelling topic.
Super Bowl-contending teams generally don’t have positional flux from one year to the next.
Lose a marquee player, however, and suddenly pad-less preseason workouts take on an entirely new meaning.
Michael Crabtree suffered a torn right Achilles tendon on Tuesday and underwent surgery the very next day. A likely six-month absence for the 49ers’ leading wideout leaves a substantial hole on the offensive side of the ball.
That said, one player’s loss is another’s opportunity.
A.J. Jenkins and Quinton Patton are two wide receivers that can leverage increased playing time through productive outings during these organized team activities.
Recent draft picks defending said receivers will get their due exposure as well. The same goes for a host of other players looking to bolster their standing next to established and injury-free veterans.
Follow along while we provide the latest reports and analysis on five key players during the first week of 49ers’ OTAs.
The 49ers will hit the gridiron once again with an offensive line worthy of league-dominant status.
Jonathan Goodwin, the starting center for said line, appreciated this quality and ensured long-term continuation.
The 11-year veteran agreed to a $1.2 million pay cut during the beginning of OTAs, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area. This money can now trickle down to rookies and other free-agent pickups that need it more than Goodwin at this point in his longstanding career.
Goodwin will still serve as the stabilizing force in front of backups Daniel Kilgore and Joe Looney. His accomplished status and veteran leadership deems him the exact person for the job.
Taking one for the team via contract reduction is all too appropriate, and none too insignificant as a 2013 OTA headline.
Certain rookies just don’t deserve that pejorative descriptor associated with first-year players.
Former LSU Tiger Eric Reid has reservations with attributes more closely aligned with that of a seasoned vet.
The 49ers' first-round draft pickup has been humble and eloquent during interviews, while performing admirably in coverage against would-be pass-catchers. As reported by Scott Kegley of 49ers.com, he doesn’t have any qualms over recognizing transitional difficulties and absorbing beneficial advice.
The veterans are here, they know the defense…They help immensely because they've seen it all…Any question that I have, they can answer right there on the spot. That's good for me. Like I keep saying, I'm just trying to be a sponge. I want to know as much as I can because that will help me play the game.
Reid is especially receptive to football lessons imparted by Pro Bowler Donte Whitner, free-agent signee Craig Dahl and secondary coach Ed Donatell. Being a sponge to what’s important has really elevated his stock.
Even as a presumptive starter at free safety, Reid has embraced his role on second-team defense. Fellow rookie Vance McDonald has been one of the unfortunate recipients of his consistently effective coverage.
“Second-team” does not aptly convey what Reid has been doing in practice through the early goings.
Afterthoughts and 49er running backs exist solely as a thing of the past.
Third-year pro Kendall Hunter enters the league once again as a young tailback capable of sparking game-changing scenarios.
His 5.2-yard average and equal touchdown total in five fewer games from the year before served as evidence of Hunter’s effectiveness out of the backfield. A torn Achilles in Week 12 prevented an even more successful campaign for the 49ers’ No. 2 RB.
Fortunately, the first week of OTAs brought him back into the fold. Per Taylor Price of 49ers.com, Hunter himself couldn’t be any more thankful:
It feels good just to be out there running around and do a little bit with the team…Just getting out there period and doing something that you love, there’s nothing like it…You never know how much you love the game until it’s taken away from you.
Frank Gore’s primary backup has worked double time throughout the offseason. Performing additional drills during these latest workouts is just another indication of how Hunter is facilitating his recovery process.
“I’m just happy I’m going to be able to come back and help the team in any way I can,” continued Hunter.
As the integral one-two-punch in the 49ers dominant running game, the Red and Gold faithful love that he is—despite scoffing at his modesty.
In a league where pass coverage is a dire necessity, teams simply can’t have an excess of cornerbacks on their rosters.
The 49ers know that all too well.
Free-agent pickup Nnamdi Asomugha has impressed thus far at that position in offseason evaluations.
He started in place of usual No. 2 corner Tarell Brown during one OTA and held his own against 49ers pass-catchers. Fourth-round pick Quinton Patton praised the continuing prowess of the former shutdown defensive back.
According to a report by Kevin Long of SF Gate, “He’s very long,” Patton said of Asomugha. “He’s very long and very quick still."
Asomugha showed that his physicality and 6’2’’, 210-pound frame still has value for a 49ers team facing aerial assaults aplenty from the opposition in 2013.
A supremely important offensive weapon from last season is preparing to realize that status to an even greater extent in 2013.
Mario Manningham is powering his way through the rehab process of a torn ACL and PCL suffered in Week 16. He embraces the strenuous nature of recovery and has invested maximum effort in returning to a functioning gridiron professional. Per Taylor Price of 49ers.com:
When you have knee injuries, you can’t really take any time off, the 6-foot, 185-pound wideout said. Every time I think about it, I'm trying to do something with my knee. I’m not rushing it but I am going hard on my knee.
Manningham has been running at relatively full speed, as well as cutting and completing change of direction exercises.
Most importantly, he is getting into position to fill the void in offensive production left by Michael Crabtree.
“It’s sad to see somebody get hurt that’s a great value to our team, but the next person has to step up. We all know injuries are a part of the game."
Manningham thankfully is part of the solution—and not the problem—this time around.
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