Ten 49ers to watch at mandatory minicamp

Ten 49ers to watch at mandatory minicamp
June 17, 2014, 7:15 am
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With Davis concentrating on his “brand,” McDonald is getting valuable first-team reps with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Matt Maiocco

The 49ers will send the Dolphins a seventh round draft pick if Jonathan Martin makes the 53-man roster out of training camp. (USATI)

Chris Borland was the 2013 Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. (AP)

Editor's note: Matt Maiocco is in Santa Clara Tuesday through Thursday for the 49ers’ three-day minicamp. Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com and tune in nightly to SportsNet Central and Yahoo SportsTalk Live for comprehensive coverage.

Ten players have our attention as the 49ers open their mandatory three-day minicamp on Tuesday:

TE Vernon Davis: He said he planned to attend the mandatory camp. Then, he suggested he is “holding out.” It’s difficult to follow the logic that’s keeping Davis away from the 49ers this offseason.

Does he want to get paid like a wide receiver? Let’s examine that . . .

Davis has 93 catches for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He is 30 years old. Wide receiver Eric Decker, 27, had 172 receptions for 2,352 yards and 24 TDs over that same period with the Denver Broncos.

Decker just signed a five-year deal with the New York Jets this offseason that averages $7.25 million. Davis’ deal, which he signed in 2010, averages $7.35 million per season. Moreover, Davis and Decker are represented by the same agent, Todd France.

RG Alex Boone: Everything you need to know about the seriousness of Boone’s situation is summed up with his decision more than a year ago to hire Jonathan Feinsod and Neil Schwartz as his agents. They believe in taking extreme measures to land contracts for their clients. Boone is not expected to show up without a new contract.

TE Vance McDonald: He caught just nine passes in 19 games, including the postseason, as a rookie. He was primarily a blocker, and he improved in that area throughout the season. With Davis concentrating on his “brand,” McDonald is getting valuable first-team reps with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

OL Jonathan Martin: We do not often focus on linemen during the offseason program because it’s not real football. The players do not wear pads, and the practices are supposedly non-contact. But we’ll be keeping an eye on Martin to see if he’s getting reps, along with Joe Looney, at right guard. After all, the 49ers must prepare as if they're not going to see Boone for a while.

QB Colin Kaepernick: He might again be working with the second tier of wide receivers on the roster, which certainly contributed to the ragged practice last week. But we’ll also be noting how much time he spends around quarterbacks guru George Whitfield, who has joined the 49ers through training camp as an intern.

CB Chris Cook: The No. 34 overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2010, he came to the 49ers in an under-the-radar signing that included no guaranteed money. He has the size (6 foot 2) and speed that teams covet in cornerbacks. And he’ll get a lot of reps on the right side during these three days.

WR Brandon Lloyd: He is attempting a comeback after sitting out of the 2013 season. Lloyd is certainly not guaranteed a spot on the roster. In fact, he could be considered a long shot. After all, Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson are the presumptive top-three receivers. Then, young players Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington figure to be kept on the 53-man roster, too. Lloyd does not play special teams, so he must decisively win a role as a contributor in order to make the team. So far, he has looked very good. Boldin and Crabtree have been held out of 11-on-11 work, and Johnson has been nursing a slight hamstring strain. Lloyd must take advantage of every opportunity.

RB Marcus Lattimore: In the first practice during OTAs that was open to the media, Lattimore looked tentative and cautious as he worked through holes. He appears to be gaining confidence in the surgically repaired knee that kept him out of action as a rookie. After last week’s work, as he was walking to his car, he was beaming with excitement: “I’m feeling better and better every day,” he proclaimed. Lattimore has demonstrated very reliable hands as a receiver out of the backfield.

LB Chris Borland: He was a tackling machine at Wisconsin, which prompted the 49ers to select him in the third round of the draft. Borland figured to be one of those guys who would not show much until the pads go on in training camp. But Borland has been a standout in coverage during the OTAs. Veteran Michael Wilhoite has a head start, having been in Vic Fangio’s system for a couple of seasons, but Borland is showing he is going to challenge for the job to replace NaVorro Bowman for as long as he’s out while rehabbing from knee surgery. (The 49ers plan to place Bowman on the PUP list to open the season, which would make him ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season.)

DL Lawrence Okoye: It’s not likely that he can win a job as a rotation player on defense. But, at 304 pounds, he stands out running down the field on kick coverage. It’s not outside the realm of possibility he could win a roster spot solely for his play on special teams.