Following a five-week break at the close of minicamp, there are a number of story lines to follow as the San Francisco 49ers report for training camp on Friday. Here's a look at the top seven questions the team faces as they gear up for their first practice on Saturday.
1. Is Jimmy Garoppolo ready?
A lot of faith in the 49ers future lies with Garoppolo's health. The quarterback was limited to individual and 7-on-7 drills during OTAs and minicamp earlier this summer. If everything goes as planned, he is expected to gain clearance for full team drills at the start of camp.
2. Who gets backup reps behind Garoppolo?
During last month's minicamp, C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens saw split reps behind Garoppolo. Both are coming off of notable OTA performances. Kyle Shanahan reiterated that Mullens and Beathard will enter camp on an even slate. Over the next few weeks, the battle for the backup spot behind Jimmy G will be an intriguing competition to keep an eye on.
3. Who will be the 49ers starting running back in 2019?
The 49ers enter training camp with a loaded backfield. It's expected that San Francisco will monitor Jerick McKinnon's workload following his season-ending ACL tear a year ago. Free agent signing Tevin Coleman adds to the young talent in Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Austin Walter. Both Breida and Mostert performed admirably when called upon in 2018 prior to their respective injuries.
Shanahan is likely to employ a committee approach in the run game given San Francisco's depth in the backfield. Still, with the lingering questions surrounding health, the surplus of talent is definitely a good problem for the 49ers to have entering into 2019.
4. How many receivers will the 49ers keep on the roster?
Receiver is another jam packed position group with a heap of young talent. The 49ers expect Dante Pettis to build off of his rookie campaign where registered 359 yards and four touchdowns over San Francisco's final five contests. Rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd missed time duting the 49ers offseason program with minor injuries and will look to get a grasp of the offense and build a rapport with Garoppolo in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin, Richie James Jr., Jordan Matthews and Trent Taylor among others will be in a tight battle for a limited number of openings. Last season, the 49ers ran with six receivers and could very well follow suit in 2019. The wideout battle may be one of the more exciting competitions to follow this summer.
5. What will the 49ers safety group look like?
Jaquiski Tartt looks to maintain his role as San Francisco's No. 1 strong safety. Meanwhile, second-year safety Marcell Harris showed potential during the back end of 2018 in place of Tartt, who missed the final five games with a season-ending shoulder injury. Adrian Colbert and Antone Exum add to the mix, and hope to improve off of their 2018 showings in a wide open safety competition.
Injuries to Jimmie Ward (collarbone) during OTAs forced the 49ers to move Tarvarius Moore to his college position at safety. Robert Saleh did not confirm whether Moore's move is a permanent decision going forward, however it is definitely something to monitor in the coming weeks.
6. Who starts opposite Richard Sherman?
The 49ers are eager to see if Ahkello Witherspoon can mimic his rookie season where he recorded seven passes defended and two interceptions in nine starts back in 2017. Despite a drop in production during his sophomore campaign, he showed glimpses that he can be a reliable corner in Saleh's defense towards the end of 2018.
Jason Verrett is a front runner to challenge Witherspoon for a starting spot. Verrett has plenty of upside, and has proven to be a standout cornerback when healthy. Greg Mabin, Tim Harris, Dontae Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley are also in mix for a backup spot. Meanwhile, both K'Waun Williams and D.J. Reed will compete at starting nickel corner.
7. Can the 49ers pass rush live up to the expectations?
San Francisco entered the offseason with the objective to improve its pass rush. They did so with the additions of Dee Ford and Nick Bosa. The 49ers reinforcements off the edge coupled with first round talent in Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas is undoubtedly an improvement from years prior. But the real magic doesn't begin until Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We'll have to wait until then to see the true benefits of San Francisco's upgraded cast.