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Young 49ers to Watch as Offseason Program Nears

Posted Apr 16, 2014

49ers.com has combed through the San Francisco 49ers current roster to find the top young players worth tracking during the 2014 offseason program.

The San Francisco 49ers voluntary program begins on Monday. The nine-week program consists of three phases: two weeks of strength and conditioning work, three weeks of on-field workouts with coaches and four weeks of OTAs and minicamps.

The offseason program is essential for newcomers and young players on the 49ers roster. Veterans typically take a limited role in the second phase of the program, allowing younger teammates to handle the bulk of the practice reps.

READ: Regular Season Schedule Coming Soon

Think Frank Gore allowing Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James to maximize opportunities in year’s past.

With team workouts starting next week, 49ers.com has combed through the roster to find the top young players to track as the program gets underway.

WR Jon Baldwin

With the recent signing of veteran wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to a one-year contract, Baldwin has another competitor for the right to be the team’s No. 3 wideout. Baldwin (three catches, 28 receiving yards in seven games) didn’t have a full offseason with the 49ers in 2013; he was acquired via trade on Aug. 19. Baldwin is entering his fifth NFL season and turns 25 on Aug. 10.

DT Tank Carradine

The 2013 second-round draft pick is on track to make his NFL debut this September. But, Carradine will first look to assert himself in the offseason program. With veteran starters Justin Smith and Ray McDonald not known for hogging reps in the offseason, Carradine and other young defensive tackles will get the lion’s share of action leading up to training camp.

QB Blaine Gabbert


Jim Harbaugh has earned praise for his development of young quarterbacks. His next apprentice is the former first-round draft pick whom the 49ers acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars. San Francisco’s coaching staff can’t begin working with the players until the second phase of the offseason program, but look for Gabbert to get months of detailed tutorials from Harbaugh and quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst.

DT Tony Jerod-Eddie

The more Jerod-Eddie was on the field in 2013, the better the 6-foot-5, 301-pound defensive lineman was able to play. Stalwarts on the line, including Smith and McDonald, didn’t have to play every snap for the 49ers defense to succeed. Jerod-Eddie appeared in 15 games and recorded 28 tackles and one interception in his second season. Expect bigger and better things.

G/C Daniel Kilgore

Being awarded a three-year contract extension was a good sign for Kigore’s future in San Francisco. As the roster currently stands, the team has an opening at center this season, and the former fifth-round draft pick will compete to earn that role. Kilgore’s three years in the NFL has seen him practice at center and both guard spots. One could assume that Kilgore will be primarily snapping the ball all spring and summer.

RB Marcus Lattimore

It’s hard to be a fan favorite without playing in a regular season game, let alone a preseason game. Lattimore, however, finds himself in that role based on his unique story. The standout college performer, derailed by two serious knee injuries, was selected in the fourth round to “redshirt” for the 49ers as a rookie. Lattimore says he’ll be ready to play ball in 2014. The comeback trail continues with offseason work.

TE Vance McDonald

While Vernon Davis enjoyed a Pro Bowl season, the team’s No. 2 tight end quietly improved his all-around game over the course of 2013. McDonald became a better in-line blocker and also saw time as a fullback in short-yardage situations. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he wants McDonald and fellow second-year player Quinton Patton to carve out greater roles on offense. There’s no better time to start than in the coming month.

LB Nick Moody

San Francisco’s 3-4 defense is predicated on solid play from its linebacking corps. With NaVorro Bowman on the mend, the team will need a young inside linebacker to step up to replace the All-Pro performer. Michael Wilhoite is the likely candidate to fill in for Bowman, but don’t forget about Moody. The special teams contributor is fairly new to playing linebacker. He starred in college as a safety and will have another offseason to develop his instincts.

CB Darryl Morris

We know Morris has speed. We’ll get a better sense of Morris’ coverage skills this offseason. Behind leader Tramaine Brock, several cornerbacks (Chris Culliver, Eric Wright, Perrish Cox and Morris) will be competing to line up as the team’s No. 2 corner. Morris is an intriguing player to watch in that group to see if he can emerge as a perimeter or slot defender.

DT Lawrence Okoye

The football foreigner story hasn’t gotten old by any means. If anything, the former Olympian’s journey to the NFL will only intensify. Okoye has learned plenty about professional football. He spent the entire 2013 season traveling with the 49ers and soaking up knowledge every step of the way. In a matter of a few weeks, we’ll see how far he’s come.

Other young 49ers to track:

CB Culliver, DT Quinton Dial, RB Jewel Hampton, WR Chuck Jacobs, LB Corey Lemonier, G Joe Looney, T Jonathan Martin, WR Patton and G Ryan Seymour.

Which young player are you most excited to follow this offseason?

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