Potential Breakout Players to Watch at 49ers Training Camp
Image Credit: Associated Press
It is no secret that the San Francisco 49ers training camp will look significantly different this year than in the past. No more rookies hyping up the crowds to start each practice because there will no crowds to rile up. The roster has been trimmed from 90 to 80 as part of the COVID-19 negotiations between the owners and the NFL Players Association. And most importantly, there will be no preseason games for players to put practice into motion in live action. It will be harder than ever for players on the outside looking in to make a splash but here are a few that could.
RB JaMycal Hasty
Undrafted free agents face an even steeper climb to make the roster than usual this year, however, head coach Kyle Shanahan loves him some undrafted rookie running back talent. JaMycal Hasty’s one-cut running style made him highly successful at Baylor and project well into Shanahan’s scheme. Hasty didn’t blow scouts away with his 4.55-second 40 time but makes up for that by being decisive once he sees a hole to blast through. At 5’8”, 205lbs, he is a compact player who is equally as effective in the passing game as he is as a runner. Since Matt Breida was traded during the draft, Hasty will be one of many running backs looking to fill that void.
WR Jalen Hurd
Anyone would be hard pressed to find a 49ers fan that is not excited to see what Jalen Hurd can do on the field after redshirting his rookie year. Hurd put on a show in the preseason before being sidelined for the season with a significant back injury. He scored a pair of touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys, one on a fade route and one while bowling over a defender, to open the exhibition season. Now that WR Deebo Samuel may miss time to start the year, Hurd will be counted on to step up early and often. Hurd’s length, strength and athleticism make him an elite target for Jimmy Garoppolo, and his versatility once the ball is in his hands make him an ideal fit for Shanahan’s offense. Whatever happens, do not sleep on Hurd.
CB DeMarkus Acy
Next on the list is another UDFA who comes in at one of the weaker position groups on the roster. DeMarkus Acy entered the draft combine as Matt Miller’s 42nd best player but tumbled down boards after a mediocre combine. Acy also played multiple positions as a three-year starter at Missouri which could have scared teams off. This led to him landing in one of the best spots possible: playing behind a ferocious defensive line and learning from on the greats, Richard Sherman. Acy is best suited in either press or zone coverage and he uses his 6-foot-1 frame to be more physical than the opposing wide receivers. Ahead of him on the depth chart are Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon,both of whom have had their fair shares of issues. The coaches have shown in the past that they will not hesitate to pull the plug on a player if they are not performing up to snuff. If that is the case, an impressive training camp could have Acy hearing his number called sooner rather than later.
DL Jullian Taylor
When the 49ers shipped DT DeForest Buckner off to the Indianapolis Colts, it left a huge void in the defensive front. First-round rookie Javon Kinlaw is an obvious player to step in immediately, but former seventh-round selection Jullian Taylor has earned his shot. A victim of injuries in his first two years, Taylor has shown that he slots in alongside all that high draft capital. He has yet to register a sack but he was plenty disruptive from the middle of the line. During the game against Washington last season, Taylor was a major reason why the defense was able to hang a shutout on the scoreboard. Buckner’s departure left 824 snaps up for the taking and do not be surprised to see Taylor parlay a strong camp into a significant role.
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