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9 Questions Facing the 49ers as Training Camp Begins

View every player currently on the San Francisco 49ers 2018 90-man roster.

At long last, the NFL offseason is finally over. San Francisco 49ers players are reporting for training camp on Wednesday morning and the team's first practice is slated for Thursday.

We are going to learn a lot about this team over the course of the next five weeks and beyond. Hope has been restored both in the building and among the 49ers fan base, but there's still a long way to go. Here are nine questions that will have varying degrees of impact on San Francisco's hope of returning to the postseason.

1. What kind of player are the 49ers getting in Richard Sherman?

Sherman, in my mind, is still a wildcard. Beyond that, the answer to this question could greatly improve San Francisco's fortunes in 2018. Will Sherman return to full form? 80 percent? 75? I expect there to be some rust at the onset of camp. He's also likely to get a few extra veteran's days off in the early going.

Sherman's résumé has earned him a decent degree of patience, but everyone is eager to see how he bounces back from his Achilles tear.

2. Can Dante Pettis or Kendrick Bourne carve out a significant role for themselves on offense?

Pettis and Bourne will be fighting for reps behind Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor. Pettis seems to have a quicker path to playing time given his work at all three receiver spots. Bourne flashed some at the end of his rookie season and could be a sleeper candidate to be an impact player in 2018. They both have their work cut out for them if they're to see the field on offense in any significant capacity, though.

3a. Who will start in place of Reuben Foster during his two-game suspension?

It's almost assuredly going to be two of either Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle or Fred Warner. Smith and Coyle are the favorites in my eyes given their experience. It's hard to see the 49ers starting a rookie on the road in Week 1, but Warner does have the potential to surprise people. San Francisco is lucky to have the quality depth on the roster to weather the storm while Foster is gone. He will be missed, but the 49ers defense should still be plenty capable without him.

3b. Who will start alongside Foster when he returns in Week 3?

There are several factors at play here. Will Foster be at WILL or MIKE? Is Smith, traditionally a WILL, going to make a full-time move to MIKE? Will Coyle still be ahead of Warner on the depth chart? This one is much harder to forecast.

4. Can Cassius Marsh and Jeremiah Attaochu prove to be dependable edge rushers?

Everyone on the 49ers coaching staff and within the locker room believes in these two guys. Still, Marsh and Attaochu only have 16 career sacks between them and have plenty left to prove. Their ability (or inability) to generate a consistent rush off the edge will have a noticeable impact on DeForest Buckner's production as well. You could argue that much of the success of the 49ers defense will hinge on them.

5. How will Jerick McKinnon fare as San Francisco's primary ball carrier?

The potential is obviously there as the 49ers felt comfortable enough to hand McKinnon a robust contract in free agency. But similarly to Marsh and Attaochu, McKinnon is yet to exhibit his ability to shoulder the load as a team's starting running back. He has no shortage of doubters across the country.

He'll have the opportunity to silence them in Week 1 in a revenge game against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. San Francisco is counting on a big year for McKinnon – both as a runner and as a pass catcher.

6. What will a full season look like with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback?

Expectations couldn't be higher for Jimmy G. He reignited a fan base that had fallen into a deep slumber over the course of the previous few seasons. Garoppolo engineered a five-game winning streak to close 2017 and was rewarded with franchise quarterback money. His career 7-0 record is bound to take a hit at some point. How will Garoppolo respond? Will defenses figure out a way to stop him? The 49ers will go as Garoppolo goes in 2018.

7. Who will start at right guard?

Will it be Joshua Garnett, Mike Person or Jonathan Cooper? This stands as the only real position battle going into camp.

8. Will Joe Williams make the team?

The 49ers traded up to grab Williams in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The running back then missed his entire rookie season with an ankle injury. He fights an uphill battle if he's to make the roster and carve out a role for himself. Williams will likely have to beat out special teams ace Raheem Mostert to do so.

9. Can Bradley Pinion retain his job as the 49ers punter?

As long as Jeff Locke remains on the roster, it should be assumed that it's an open competition between him and Pinion.

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