The NFL offseason is a thing of the past, as teams around the league are requiring all of their uninjured and signed players to report to official training camps this week and next. For the San Francisco 49ers, rookies and select veterans reported to camp in Santa Clara on Saturday, July 21 and got to work for their first official practice on Monday, July 23. Training camp for all players is set to begin on July 27.
What do the 49ers have to settle in training camp? Well, there's a lot less to keep an eye on this time around. Not only does the offseason feel different than other offseasons in recent memory, there's actually less spots being contested and more things already settled than in previous years. There's no starting quarterback battle for the first time in what seems like forever, though the backup battle is heating up.
Second-year player Colin Kaepernick and free agent signee Josh Johnson will be competing for the backup role and the gameday active role. It might just be the most important battle of training camp, outside of the battle that decides who the starting right guard will be. The right guard position is the only starting spot that's actually open on the roster. Daniel Kilgore and Alex Boone will likely be battling it out at that position.
Outside of that, there's the slew of running backs all vying for playing time. Frank Gore is the man up top but that's all that's decided. LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon are all vying for playing time behind him. Smart money is on those being broken up into separate battles - the first two battling for the immediate backup job and the third-down running back slot and the second two battling for the privilege to be the short-yardage back.
The wide receiver depth chart also needs to be settled, with new faced like Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and first-round draftee A.J. Jenkins hoping to make an impression. The number one spot is still plenty open. On the defensive side of the ball, the only real questions are the progression of Aldon Smith - whether he is transitioning to be an every-down player - and the "holdout" of safety Dashon Goldson.
A potential holdout does nothing for Goldson as he'll have to play on his franchise tender this season. The team can't sign him to a long-term contract until the end of the season at this point, but he'll probably delay signing the thing and show up out of shape and tired, like they always do.
At any rate, the offseason is over and training camp is right around the corner. The 49ers play their first preseason game on Aug. 10, so be sure to stick around throughout training camp as we keep you up to date on the battles and news in general.