Training camp is in full swing, and the San Francisco 49ers have seen plenty of positives, along with a few major negatives.
On the good side, several young players have been stepping forward and catching the eye of the coaching staff. Pleasant surprises include Quinton Dial, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Jimmie Ward, Bruce Ellington, Brandon Lloyd and Joe Looney.
Injuries have already hit the 49ers quite hard, and they can ill-afford any additional setbacks. Key players such as Glenn Dorsey, the starting nose tackle in 2013, and second-string running back Kendall Hunter have both been lost for the season.
In addition, backup running back and return specialist LaMichael James is expected to be out until the end of training camp with a dislocated elbow.
Right guard Alex Boone is continuing his holdout, and there is no return in sight. Although the 49ers would like Boone back, they will not cave in to his demands, as he is under contract for two more seasons.
It appears as though head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman are already preparing to move forward without Boone. The aforementioned Looney, along with Adam Snyder, is competing for the starting job, with Looney appearing to have the edge.
Even with these four players missing, the 49ers look very strong heading into their first preseason game on Thursday. Many of the youngsters will get their first taste of NFL action, and their progress will be very important to the success of the team.
Barring further catastrophic injuries, the 49ers will make another run for the NFC West crown and a shot at the Super Bowl.