I went to Twitter for your questions on the San Francisco 49ers roster entering training camp. Here are my answer:
From @AndrewSilva253: Who do you have the most faith in for our 3rd WR?
Behind Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, there are three logical candidates who could be in the slot. If we based it off of experience with the team, it’s Quinton Patton as he enters his third season. Had this been based off snaps last year with Colin Kaepernick, it’s Bruce Ellington who received limited playing time in 2014.
However, I believe Jerome Simpson has the edge under this new coaching staff and his experience will overpower the others in competition. While he has had issues off the field, he can be productive and has a track record to do something when motivated. Patton has yet to impress while Ellington’s size knocks him down in my opinion.
From @Thee_EX_Factor: What can we expect from Trey Millard? If he doesn’t make [53-man roster], what are the odds [of him being safe]?
Millard can be a playmaking fullback assuming he is healthy. At 6-2, 247 pounds, he’s athletic enough to block and also make plays out of the backfield. Obviously he is behind Bruce Miller on the depth chart, but his frame is intriguing if he was given a chance. The best thing about him is that he’s versatile to be plugged anywhere and the 49ers will always prove of that.
At minimum, expect him to contribute somewhere on special teams as he spent 2014 recovering from a torn ACL from 2013. I don’t see him making the 49ers practice squad if he were cut because another team could want a player of his size, but it depends on who wants a fulback. It would be 50-50 if he remains within the organization after being cut.
From @NinerDynsty2011: Will Kaepernick’s new arm angle /delivery REALLY be much of a factor this coming season? Is he making better throws in camp?
Kaepernick’s delivery looked better in camp, but we are a long way from the season itself. It does look great to see throws in drills when there is no pressure coming to him. However, we aren’t going to know about how it will impact this season until we see it in Week 1.
Preseason has some stock, but with vanilla playbooks and no game planning, we can only observe that a few throws were improved from last year. Players are understandably building him up, but I’m not going to put all the stock on what was seen from OTAs and minicamp.
From @PerezClick: Do you see Ward strictly playing CB this year?
I don’t see him as a starting CB, but they’ll plug him in at nickel cornerback for sure. His rookie year was raw and unfortunately everyone will remember him for how he looked against Brandon Marshall. The 49ers will most likely have Shareece Wright and Dontae Johnson battle for the second CB spot alongside Tramaine Brock, but Ward will get plenty of snaps.
With the NFL currently a pass-first league, everyone operates on some type of nickel defense, giving Ward plenty of opportunity. In the event Eric Reid or Antoine Bethea are injured, he could be put in at safety, but from last year’s observations that is doubtful. I strictly see him put in at nickel CB and also found on dime defense for the most part.
From @therealspike13: How do you see the TE position shaking out behind Vernon [Davis]?
This will have open competition among Derek Carrier, Vance McDonald and Blake Bell. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rory “Busta” Anderson becomes a sleeper on the depth chart. The 49ers placed high priority on McDonald when trading up for him in the second round, but Carrier looked better in the passing game when healthy.
Right now, I would pencil in Carrier as the second TE with Bell, Anderson and McDonald behind competing for a role. For McDonald, he could be fighting for a roster spot if others impress in front of him. The other thing to note, this competition will prove what happens beyond 2015 as Vernon Davis is in his contract year. General Manager Trent Baalke has shown he addresses players in the draft for the following season as Bell and Anderson fit this bill.
From @Buddy_Boy_88: Does Dylan Thompson stand a chance to unseat….gulp, Blaine Gabbert?
Thompson has a puncher’s chance, but I don’t think Gabbert is buried behind an undrafted free agent rookie on the depth chart. Gabbert is not practice squad eligible and it would make sense to have Thompson there as the third quarterback for the scout team. Otherwise, the 49ers would be stuck with two quarterbacks and they would have to do what they did with Josh Johnson last year as the scout team QB by signing and releasing someone by the week.
Gabbert has to either be injured or Thompson needs to dominate camp and preseason in order for any chance of this happening. Realistically it’s an uphill battle for Thompson, but he has a good chance of being with the team after camp and preseason are over.
From @LaceEMupshoes: What is the feeling in training camp amongst players as far as the confidence/respect they have in their new coaching staff?
Players seem confident, as Anquan Boldin expressed prior to the draft. He specifically said in April that he liked what Jim Tomsula brings to the team and has another edge to him.
It is a new season and players from all 32 teams are always going to have confidence with everyone’s records at 0-0. There has not been a bad vibe to report yet, but there is also no adversity the team is going through in the offseason outside of the retirements.