The 49ers begin organized team activities next week, which will give the coaching staff an extended opportunity to evaluate players before reconvening for training camp in late-July.
Here are a couple of questions submitted via Facebook about how some notable players fit into the new schemes:
Does Joe Williams have a real shot at supplanting Carlos Hyde as the starter? (Andrew Kerr)
Respected running backs coach Bobby Turner kept in touch with Williams even when he was not on the 49ers' draft board. Coach Kyle Shanahan desperately wanted Williams and convinced general manager John Lynch to reconsider Williams’ exclusion from the team’s draft plan.
The fact Turner and Shanahan campaigned for Williams speaks volumes about their plan for him. Turner and Shanahan wanted Williams. They see something in him. They know exactly how they want to use him.
So, yes, Williams has a legitimate chance to immediately unseat Hyde as the team’s top running back. Hyde is entering the final year of his contract. His first three seasons have been marked by inconsistencies and injuries that have sidelined him for 14 games.
The better player wins the job, and Williams has the distinct advantage of being the running back Turner and Shanahan hand-picked to fit their scheme.
Is Arik Armstead's future in jeopardy because he doesn't have a real position? (Joe Ruckus Marsh)
Solomon Thomas is a good fit at the “big end” position. Veteran Earl Mitchell appears to be the logical choice at nose tackle. And DeForest Bucker is expected to line up at the other interior position along the 49ers’ defensive line.
So that leaves Armstead at the pass-rush end spot in the 49ers’ new 4-3 defense. Right now, it appears he will compete with Aaron Lynch and others for that position.
If Armstead is not capable of playing the “Leo” position up to the specifications of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, then Armstead most likely becomes a high-priced backup to Thomas and Buckner. Lynch has said he believes Armstead is capable of playing three spots along the line. It’s just a matter of finding the intersection of where he is best-suited and where he is most needed.
Armstead is in a similar position to Hyde and some other returning players. He is no longer on scholarship as a high draft pick. John Lynch and Shanahan could not care less where he was drafted. He has to show more urgency and earn his role on the team.