A look at the 2015 regular season schedule for the San Francisco 49ers.
In this edition of the NFC West Report, we catch up with the San Francisco 49ers three divisional rivals as they begin Organized Team Activities and minicamp.
St. Louis Rams
Nick Foles has fit in well with his new team after coming over from the Philadelphia Eagles in a blockbuster offseason trade. "When I see my receivers run routes I can tell who's good at what, so then you get an idea where to throw the ball to different guys," Foles said. "The receivers have been awesome. They're buying in." A major adjustment Foles has made in taking over the Rams starting quarterback job has been snapping the ball under center – something he rarely did in Chip Kelly's offense. "It's been a little while, but I enjoy it," Foles said. "You have to be able to do both in the NFL."
Todd Gurley, the team's first-round draft pick, has not participated in any offseason workouts yet. The running back is still rehabbing from the torn left ACL he suffered in November. Gurley has, however, gone through a few agility drills that required change of direction – albeit at half speed and not cutting like he would in a game. The Rams have put no timetable on when Gurley will return to practice. "Todd's doing a great job with his rehab," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "Probably a little frustrated, but he's anxious to get out there right now, so that's going well."
Brian Quick, like Gurley, is still working his way back from injury. The wide receiver sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in October after jumping out to a fast start with 322 yards and three touchdowns in the first four games of the season. Quick has taken part in some positional drills during Rams OTAs, but he hasn't been cleared for 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 work yet. "I know that when it's time I'm going to be ready," Quick said. "It's always hard, coming out here seeing these guys work, and you have to sit down and watch them. But you just have to be patient."
Jeff Garcia officially joined the Rams coaching staff on June 2 as an offensive assistant. The former 49ers quarterback will work primarily with wide receivers coach Ray Sherman. "We spent a day and a half with him, and it was almost as if he was getting ready to go out and play a game," Fisher said. "He's just that guy. He's so competitive."
Carson Palmerwas cleared to take part in 11-on-11 drils at Cardinals minicamp, which began Tuesday. The veteran quarterback suffered an ACL injury midway through the 2014 season. Palmer had been badgering the training staff to loosen the reigns, telling local media, "12 plays isn't enough for me. I need more action out there."
Tyrann Mathieuhas a "gleam" in his eye after injuries cut short each of his first two NFL seasons. Said the safety, "It's just time for me to get back to what I do, get back to my comfort zone when I'm on the field."
Sean Weatherspoon, a free-agent addition, is another projected impact player coming off injury. The linebacker missed 2014 with a ruptured Achilles but has reportedly looked impressive in team drills. And although he's a new face at Cardinals practices, he's become the team's most vocal player – a role vacated when Darnell Dockett signed with the 49ers this offseason.
Mike Iupati, a familiar name for the Faithful, has been penciled in at left guard. The longtime 49ers run-blocker is champing at the bit for contact drills to begin. "Mike's not a soccer player," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "He's a physical guy and now's not a time to be physical."
Tempo isn't a word confined to 49ers practices. The Cardinals showed off a no-huddle offense during OTAs, and Arians said it could become a wrinkle the team uses during the season.
Jimmy Graham, the team's prized offseason acquisition, has looked "unstoppable" in OTAs. "Honestly, I'm just bigger than everybody," Graham said. "So it's easy." The Pro Bowl tight end has frequently been targeted in the red zone against the likes of Bobby Wagner and Richard Sherman. "The sky's the limit for us right now," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "His size is tremendous. With how tall he is, he's got a great catch radius. ... We're excited to keep playing with it and see what we have."
Russell Wilsonis entering the final year of his rookie contract. Talks surrounding a long-term extension have slowed down, and Wilson said he is prepared to play this season without a new deal. "Ultimately I belive it will work out," Wilson said. "It's a private matter. My focus is on football and trying to win football games for us."
A new training regiment has Wilson claiming that he is faster in 2015 than in prior seasons. "I definitely think I'm faster," Wilson said. "I haven't really timed myself, but I definitely think I'm a couple clicks faster." Wilson's ability to extend plays combined with Graham's size as a target makes a dangerous concoction when plays breakdown.
Earl Thomas, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery, is on track to be ready for the start of training camp. The All-Pro safety recently took part in individual drills at Seahawks OTAs.
Kam Chancellor, who played on an injured knee in the Super Bowl, feels completely healthy and has been a full participant in team drills. "This is is the strongest offseason I've had since I've been in the league," the hard-hitting safety said. "Back to football form. Feel fast. Feel strong. I just feel good out there."