For the past few years, the 49er starting lineup has been a pat hand heading into Training Camp. It can be debated whether they have had the lowest form of pat hand — a straight — or a somewhat higher rated variety, but they have certainly not had the highest — a straight flush, nor even the winning hand.
This year’s TC will be different. There are some actual jobs up for grabs and the pre-season games will be all the more fun to watch because of it.
We’ll find out who Frank Gore’s eventual successor is. If this were a cruel and unusual franchise, and Marcus Lattimore or Carlos Hyde looked ready to start, Gore and his hefty salary would likely be cut. That would leave him 33 yards short of 10,000 and 1 year short of a ten year 49er career. What evil monster would deny him the chance to achieve both goals?
We’ll also find out how much of Justin Smith’s shoes Tank Carradine will be able to fill. The defense has a lot riding on Carradine’s effectiveness. If he’s a Pro Bowl talent, the D-line will continue to be a force. If not, get ready for some burnt secondaries.
The slot CB position is wide open going into camp. The contenders are Perrish Cox, Eric Wright, and first round pick Jimmie Ward. You know which way this competition is weighted. The 49er brass wants Ward to be the clear winner, just like last year’s FS competition that first round pick Eric Reid won handily. Reid was only competing against Craig Dahl, however. Not much of a challenge.
The battle to fill-in for the injured Navorro Bowman should be a sprightly affair, too. The contenders: Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody, and Chris Borland. This could be the only time any of these three ever get to start in SF.
With Carradine and Lattimore, Trent Baalke’s draft grade for 2013 is on the line. If those two pan out, that draft could be a great one. If not, it could join 2012 as wasted effort.
There’s been idle chatter that Jim Harbaugh must win the Super Bowl this year to keep his job. That seems pretty far fetched. He’s got two years left on his contract and he’s brought instant excellence to the franchise. The only thing that seems to be at stake in the SB or bust conjecture is the size of Harbaugh’s contract extension.