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Fann Mail: What to Watch for in 49ers Mandatory Minicamp

The San Francisco 49ers are set to close out the offseason program this week with a mandatory minicamp. Although the team is allotted three full days, Kyle Shanahan has opted to schedule just two practices, one on Tuesday and the other on Wednesday.

That's a sign that the team is on track with where Shanahan expected them to be at this time. San Francisco's head coach will meet with reporters ahead of each practice. In the meantime, here's this week's mailbag. As always, thanks to all who participated.

One of minicamp's biggest storylines is the return of Solomon Thomas, who will be eligible to practice on Wednesday as Stanford will have completed finals. Thomas has been making good use of his time away as he worked out with future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware.

It will be our first glimpse of the first-round pick since rookie minicamp and Thomas' first full-team work since being drafted. The 49ers are likely to limit Thomas' reps, but he will still be a player to watch.

UPDATE: Kyle Shanahan noted on Tuesday that Thomas will NOT be at minicamp. He will be allowed to return on Thursday for workouts and a team BBQ. Apologies for the initial misinformation.

I'll tackle your first question first. Wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur was very complimentary of BJ Johnson III last week. Johnson was a tryout player during rookie minicamp and ultimately took a roster spot from KD Cannon. His 6-foot-1, 212-pound frame is what initially got him on San Francisco's radar.

"BJ stood out to us with his size and his hands," LaFleur said. "He's a guy we evaluated coming out of Georgia Southern and you could see his toughness on tape. When we brought him here, we decided that this is a guy we really wanted to work with. He's done a really good job."

As for an underrated position battle, I'm going with tight end. The 49ers added three tight ends to the roster this offseason in free agent Logan Paulsen, fifth-round pick George Kittle and sought after UDFA Cole Hikutini. They'll provide major competition to incumbents Garrett Celek and Garrett Celek.

The coaches have split reps fairly evenly thus far to give each player a real shot to showcase their abilities.

It's far too early to say whether or not Trent Taylor will be a factor in 2017. That said, he's been impressive thus far. Taylor has been good for a few catches per practice and has shown the ability to separate and make contested catches.

Players and coaches alike are always cautious to hype rookies, but this is what LaFleur shared about Taylor just last week.

"Trent has done a great job," LaFleur said. "He has a knack for finding the football. A play might not be designed for him, but then the ball goes his way. He's done a good job. He's a rookie. He's still learning."

There's certainly potential for all three first-round picks to see the field at the same time. Arik Armstead has been playing the LEO, DeForest Buckner has been at the five-tech and Thomas could step in at the "big end" spot on the other side of Earl Mitchell.

Defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina made it clear that his group will be in constant rotation during the season. That means all three players could be factors on gameday but not necessarily all play at the same time.

Rookies have to be signed before they're able to participate in training camp. That's still well over a month away which gives the team plenty of time to get deals done with all unsigned draft picks.

This is a great question. My gut says Joe Williams because of his 4.41-second 40 time at the NFL Combine. However, Kapri Bibbs and undrafted free agent Matt Breida both showed off their wheels during OTAs. I'd pay to see a footrace between the three of them.

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