Defensive Position Battles to Watch During Training Camp


With the massive roster turnover this off-season, their are a lot of questions surrounding the San Francisco 49ers’ position groups. Retirements and departures have completely changed the one-time juggernaut of the league.

Out of the 22 starters that took the field for the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, only seven remain on the roster. The 49ers are just three years removed from a Super Bowl and the team they will be fielding in 2015 is completely different from that roster in 2012.

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New names are now competing for spots that already had starters locked in at the start of training camp just a few years ago.

The fiercest battles for spots on the field are taking place on defense.

Tramaine Brock is a de facto starter, but which CB is going to start with him? Veterans like Chris Cook, Shareece Wright, and Dontae Johnson are battling for that starter spot. However, the coaches already know what they have with those guys. Newcomers like Kenneth Acker and Keith Reaser have the element of surprise on their side.

But the starting spot isn’t the only CB position that’s up for grabs. The nickel corner position is also being fought for. Jimmie Ward was the starter last year, but no one is safe now. Johnson emerged as a player with potential last year, Cook and Wright have the experience, and rookie Jaquiski Tartt is also in the mix.

What they lost in depth on the inside, the 49ers made up for it on the outside. The 49ers have a surplus of talent at OLB. While Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks are the most likely starters, there is a battle going on for the spots behind them.

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49ers assembled a golden roster via NFL Draft despite misses
49ers assembled a golden roster via NFL Draft despite misses /

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  • In 2013, Corey Lemonier looked promising. Unfortunately for him, he fell off in 2014 and Aaron Lynch emerged as force to be reckoned with and took Lemonier’s spot on the depth chart. Now they both have rookie Eli Harold to worry about as the 49ers must deal with the best problem to have, too much talent.

    The 49ers also suffered some blow on the defensive line. Justin Smith retired, and Ray McDonald is dealing with his own problems as a free agent. That doesn’t mean the 49ers don’t have talent in the trenches.

    There will be a massive battle for playing time on the line. The 49ers have the personnel to sub guys out and keep everyone fresh. However, some will still play more than others, and that’s what these guys are playing for.

    Young talent such as Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Arik Armstead, and Ian Williams are trying to dethrone older guys such as Darnell Dockett and Glenn Dorsey.

    Luckily for these young guys, Jim Tomsula is their coach. He knows how to get the best out of his young guys on the line and will give them the opportunity to succeed.

    With so much talent and numbered roster spots, it will be interesting to watch these battles unfold during practice and preseason as the roster gets molded before our very eyes.