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San Francisco 49ers

(Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

San Francisco 49ers 2022 Training Camp Preview

San Francisco 49ers
(Photo by Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

San Francisco 49ers 2022 Training Camp Preview

The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a disappointing finish to an exciting playoff run in 2021. Head coach Kyle Shanahan will lead the 49ers into the 2022 season with 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance as the team’s starting quarterback. San Francisco has kept a lot of its offensive weapons, notably wide receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittle, and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Their defense did see some changes in the offseason with multiple departures at all three levels. However, San Francisco was able to maintain key players in defensive end Nick Bosa, linebacker Fred Warner, and safety Jimmie Ward. Finally, the 49ers are looking to get back to the Super Bowl in Feb. 2023 after their recent postseason failures. Here, are multiple things to monitor as the 49ers head into training camp.

Three Position Battles to Watch

1. Running Back: Tyrion Davis-Price, Jeff Wilson Jr., Trey Sermon

The 49ers have a three running back battle to back up starter Elijah Mitchell. Mitchell was a sixth-round 2021 draft pick that has taken over the starting role after the offseason departure of Raheem Mostert. This leaves the backup job open for 2022 third-round pick Tyrion Davis-Price, second-year back Trey Sermon, and veteran Jeff Wilson. Sermon will have to make a huge leap to get the job after his disappointing rookie season and Wilson is more than capable of being an effective backup, which he has shown throughout his career. Davis-Price is the wildcard that will most likely be the backup but he can even put some pressure on Mitchell for the starting job. Nevertheless, whoever wins the job will see a solid amount of work as a Shanahan offense does not shy away from using multiple running backs.

2. Strong Safety: George Odum, Talanoa Hufanga 

San Francisco has a hole at strong safety after the departure of Jaquiski Tartt over the offseason. George Odum is the lead candidate to fill the position having been picked him up from the Indianapolis Colts. He spent the last four years as an important special teams player for the Colts and he even started seven games at safety last year. The other option would be Talanoa Hufanga, a second-year safety selected in the fifth round of the 2021 draft. He played 15 games and started three in his rookie year. It will be interesting to see which player wins the job and plays across from the dynamic free safety Jimmie Ward.

3. Defensive end: Drake Jackson, Samson Ebukam

Another defensive position battle will take place between rookie Drake Jackson and veteran Samson Ebukam. Jackson is a rookie from the University of Southern California that was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft. Ebukam is a defender who had a good four-year career as a linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams. He played defensive end for the 49ers last year and started 11 games. This will be a competitive veteran versus rookie position battle to fill the last spot on the 49ers’ defensive line.

Ready To Breakout: Trey Lance

Trey Lance is entering the second year of his career and will be receiving the keys to the franchise. He was a high IQ but inexperienced prospect coming out of North Dakota State. Lance was drafted 3rd overall in the 2021 NFL draft and he got a full year off to develop behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. It is now Lance’s time to shine, and he is inheriting a fantastic situation. He has incredible weapons like Samuel, Kittle, and Aiyuk. Furthermore, he will be the leader of a Shanahan offense which usually breeds a lot of yards and touchdowns. He has a chance to lead a high-powered 49ers’ offense as well as bring another NFC West title to San Francisco. A good year from Lance will help solidify his name as one of the better young quarterbacks in the NFL.

Rookie To Watch: Drake Jackson

As I stated earlier, Jackson is a defensive end that selected from the University of Southern California. He is an athletic defensive end with a good frame, but he lacks strength and needs a greater variety of pass-rushing moves. However, he is a capable defender especially lined up across from Bosa. The 49ers have a strong defensive line that will free Jackson up to make plays. He is a rookie to watch in 2022 as he is a bendy pass rusher with a good motor that can cause issues for opposing quarterbacks.

Fantasy Sleeper: Brandon Aiyuk 

Aiyuk is an immensely talented wide receiver from Arizona State. He was one of my favorite wide receivers in the 2020 NFL draft because he possesses great speed, athleticism, and run-after-catch ability. Aiyuk can be a successful fantasy sleeper as he had a bit of a down year in 2021. He can provide great value as a late-round wide receiver because he is the number two wide receiver on a good offense. Also, quarterback Trey Lance can be a huge boost for Aiyuk and the 49ers’ passing offense as a whole. Lance can benefit Aiyuk by developing a strong connection with him or just airing it out more than Jimmy Garoppolo in general. Ultimately, I believe due to Aiyuk’s talent and situation on the 49ers that he can be a good fantasy option.

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