Sports

Which six 49ers helped themselves most in offseason?


San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up during 49ers mini-camp at their practice facility in Santa Clara, Calif., on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Randy Vazquez/ Bay Area News Group)

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Legitimate victories can’t be counted until September. The end of the 49ers offseason program, however, offers us a chance to reveal six players who came out winners entering summer break:

1. Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback: Look, dropping his name first is one way to lure you into reading more. But this was a big offseason for Garoppolo on a couple fronts as he takes further command of the franchise. One, he really looked comfortable in a captain-type role while rallying teammates, joking with them, instructing them on the side and demanding extra work after practice. Two, he now knows the fine print of Kyle Shanahan’s playbook, and he’ll surely need training camp to further familiarize himself with it.

San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up during 49ers mini-camp at their practice facility in Santa Clara, Calif., on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Randy Vazquez/ Bay Area News Group)

2. DeForest Buckner, defensive tackle: Year 3 will be a banner one. “We do think Buck is a dominant football player,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. The 49ers know they’ve got a defender ready to break out, and look for their defense to try forcing quarterbacks up in the pocket and into Buckner’s 6-foot-7 wall. He’s emerging into a leader on and off the field, although Richard Sherman’s veteran presence can take the pressure off Buckner for speaking on behalf of the defense.

From left, San Francisco 49ers’ Robbie Gould, DeForest Buckner, Richard Sherman and Joe Staley share stories on stage during the State of the Franchise event at the California Theater in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. (Randy Vazquez/ Bay Area News Group)

3. Ahkello Witherspoon, cornerback: No one may give off more of a laid-back vibe off the field. On it, Witherspoon has ratched up his game, whether it’s making plays or strutting around like a top-notch cornerback, as you’d expect from Richard Sherman’s protégé.

San Francisco 49ers’ Ahkello Witherspoon (23) intercepts a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars’ Keelan Cole (84) during the fourth quarter of their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. San Francisco defeated Jacksonville 44-33. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

4. Jerick McKinnon, running back: Oh my gosh, this guy is going to be hugely productive as a running back and receiver, the ideal tool for Shanahan’s scheme. He’s small in stature but extremely strong, from his biceps to quadriceps. He speed through the spine of the defense after catching a Garoppolo pass in the minicamp finale, and more of the same is coming. Fantasy-football players will love him.

New San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon speaks at a press conference after being introduced by General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

5. Adrian Colbert, free safety: His high-intensity style and hard …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

      

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