San Francisco 49ers Players Facing Make-or-Break Training Camp
For some San Francisco 49ers players, this year's training camp could make or break their careers.
Particularly for the veterans who aren't projected to be starters, the next month of football will be critical for their futures.
The following list has three veterans and two young players who need to make an impression in training camp before it's too late.
Jim Harbaugh said on 95.7 The Game in late May that A.J. Jenkins (h/t Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk), Ricardo Lockette and Quinton Patton are battling for one of the starting wide receiver spots.
So Jenkins, a first-round pick in the 2012 draft, who did not record a reception in his rookie season, is up against an undrafted journeyman and a rookie fourth-round pick.
To put it bluntly, he needs to win this competition.
It's not like his career will be over if he doesn't have a strong training camp. However, if he doesn't impress this year, his future with the Niners will be awfully cloudy.
I fully expect him to survive training camp and make the 53-man roster, but if he looks a step slow, the Niners could cut him.
Even if he does make the final roster, he'll need to make a great impression to supplant Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers or Chris Culliver on the cornerback depth chart.
Of course, there's a chance Asomugha will return to his 2010 Pro Bowl form under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. It all starts with him performing in training camp.
Glenn Dorsey has a steep learning curve ahead.
Not only is he adjusting to his second NFL team, but he'll also be attempting to play nose tackle after playing mostly defensive end in his five seasons as a Kansas City Chief.
The 49ers re-signed nose tackle Ian Williams in the offseason, and the loser of the job will have a hard time seeing the field. That's because the other defensive-line spots are manned by Ray McDonald and Justin Smith, two of the best and most durable 3-4 defensive ends in the league.
Dorsey is primed for a breakout season, but he must outplay Williams first in training camp to prove his worth.
At this point, I won't speculate on what will happen with Ahmad Brooks.
However, Parys Haralson would be in a position to benefit from Brooks' potential absence in training camp and/or the regular season.
The 29-year-old outside linebacker took a pay cut this offseason to stay with the Niners. He's in the last year of his deal, which means he'll need to have a productive season if he wants to earn another NFL contract.
Even if Brooks starts from Week 1, Haralson could be a vital reserve as the top outside linebacker off the bench. However, he'll be battling younger players for playing time, including promising third-round pick Corey Lemonier.
If Haralson, who missed the 2012 season with an arm injury, looks a step slow in training camp, he could fall to the bottom of the depth chart fast.
Lawrence Okoye is going to have a hard time making the 53-man roster. A more realistic goal for him is to make the practice squad.
To do that, Okoye will have to impress in training camp.
Sure, the track and field star won't be expected to dominate the trenches from day one. But if he gets consistently bulldozed in practice, the 49ers may release him.
The NFL is filled with freakishly athletic people like Okoye. He will have to show some natural talent and instincts to be a part of San Francisco's future. Without signs of improvement, he could end up out of the NFL rather quickly.
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