We're only a few weeks into training camp, and the Niners still have about a week before their first exhibition game of the 2010 season, but surprisingly, for a team that hasn't made the playoffs in 7 years, there roster is already very close to being set.
There is really only one competition going on for a starting spot this summer is for the starting right offensive tackle spot. The two most likely candidates who will be duking it out for that honor are first round pick from April's draft, Anthony Davis, and the incumbent, Adam Snyder. You'd think that Davis would have the edge, being that he's a highly paid, top-1o pick that has no shortage of expectations, but the kid is still only 20 years of age, and may not be quite ready to step into a starting NFL position during his first few months as a pro. Then again, he's a rare talent with exceptional strength, size and quickness, and the Niners drafted him with the thought that he'd see significant playing time this year and drastically help improve their offensive line. Snyder will probably start the first couple of exhibition games, but I fully expect Davis to be starting at right tackle for the Niners by week 4 or 5 of the regular season. The Niners other first round offensive lineman, Mike Iupati, just signed his contract 48 hours ago, so the Niners coaches haven't gotten too good a look at him quite yet.
The other prominent battles taking place in Niners camp will be the battle for the kick/punt return duties, backup middle linebacker and backup left tackle. As far as the kick returning duties go, the 49ers are hoping newly acquired Ted Ginn Jr. will grab the bull by the horns and claim that job, but just in case he doesn't, rookies Kyle Williams and LaRoy Vann will be giving him some competition. Kyle Williams is considered to be one of the quickest guys on the 49ers roster and could ultimately give Ginn a very good battle. The Niners also must decide how involved Ginn is going to be in their offense as well. If he ends up taking that #2 receiver slot, the Niners may not want him returning punts, but it's still far too early to tell anything right now. The battle for the backup middle linebacker spot behind Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes is also up for grabs, and just lost it's #1 contender for the year in '09 5th rounder, Scott McKillop. The second-year man out of Pitt. was really impressing coaches and fellow players, but went down earlier in the week with an injury that will require surgery and keep him out up to 9 months. With Mckillop down, that puts the job in rookie Navarro Bowman's hands. Bowman was taken in the 3rd round in April's draft, but was ranked as one of the top inside linebackers in the 2010 draft class and I think he's going to surprise.
Also, we here at The Bay Area Sports Journal encourage all Giants fans to check out the charity event being put on by Matt Cain and his wife, Chelsea, on August 14th. It's looks like there will be some great food and plenty to drink and you can enjoy it all for just $30. Join Matt Cain and many more Giants players, as well as yours truly, for the event... for more information and tickets, go here: http://baseballwivesallstarcookoff.eventbrite.com/!