Why 49ers should expect big years from Davis, Iupati

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Why 49ers should expect big years from Davis, Iupati

SANTA CLARA -- Offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati are 2010 first-round draft picks who started every game since coming to the 49ers.And, finally, this spring and summer, they had a regular offseason together.
For the first time, they were able to work on a daily basis with 49ers offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Tim Drevno -- as well as offensive coordinator Greg Roman -- for a two-month period before reporting to training camp four weeks ago.It was a luxury they did not enjoy last year as the NFL offseason was non-existent due to the lockout."Last year, me and a couple other guys were at San Jose (State) training during the lockout," Iupati said. "All of us are here now. It's big. You get coaches coaching you with this and that. Last year, we were on our own, trying to coach ourselves, motivate ourselves."As a possible result, Iupati and Davis did not maximize their second-year potential. They reported for their second seasons with even less pre-camp preparations than they had entering their rookie years because of the new coaching staff and new offensive system.
The 49ers invested a lot in adding Davis and Iupati. General manager Trent Baalke traded up two spots to select Davis with the No. 11 overall pick. Iupati was chosen No. 17 overall. The two linemen taken after Iupati were center Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh, No. 18) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay, No. 23).Davis, a right tackle, showed enough promise in his second season that the 49ers never gave serious consideration to moving him to right guard, where they elected to place 6-foot-8 Alex Boone.
Davis can be a dominant run-blocker. The 49ers ranked seventh in the NFL last season with a 5.4 average on run plays to right tackle. Davis was responsible for 9.5 sacks, according to STATS, LLC.Iupati was named to the NFL's All-Rookie team at left guard after the 2010 season but did not make the kind of noticeable improvements generally expected of a second-year player. He is also known as a mauler in the run game.On Saturday against the Houston Texans, he was the only starting offensive lineman who allowed a hit on quarterback Alex Smith. Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith quickly beat Iupati with a swim move on a play that resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty.
This season, the 49ers fully expect to receive full dividends from Davis and Iupati as first-round picks because of the large amounts of mental and physical preparation time they've finally been allowed.Both were asked what were the biggest benefits they derived from their full offseasons at the 49ers' practice facility."Working on technique every day with the coaches, and responsibilities in pass protection and the details, and strength conditioning," Davis said. "I feel good. I feel ready to go."Said Iupati, "Building the camaraderie with offensive line, especially, in communication, the plays, everything. I think we're better off now, especially the running game."

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

The 49ers have graduated back to the phase of the offseason when offense-vs.-defense drills are allowed.

Because of the hiring of Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers were allowed an additional “voluntary” minicamp before the NFL draft. That meant the 49ers were permitted to skip from the two-week conditioning phase of the offseason straight to what is allowed under Phase III.

But after the three-day minicamp in late-April, the 49ers were forced to retreat back to Phase II, when on-field drills but could not include offense vs. defense.

Beginning Monday – and over the next three weeks -- the 49ers can get back to conducting the standard one-on-one, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 "non-contact" drills. The 49ers have the maximum number of 10 organized team activities scheduled. The official offseason program concludes with a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 13-15.

The real competition does not begin until the pads go on during training camp. but here’s a look at the team’s most notable offseason competitions (one position you will not find is quarterback, where the depth chart of Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard appears clearly set):

Running back: Carlos Hyde, entering the final year of his original four-year contract, has a lot of competition to hold onto his role as the featured back. He is coming off his most-productive season, finishing just 12 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark when he sustained a knee injury with one game remaining. Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner lobbied for Utah running back Joe Williams in the draft. They clearly see a fit for him within the system.

Pass-rush end: The 49ers’ pass rush was among the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. Arik Armstead will be given an opportunity to see if he can adapt to the “Leo” position. Aaron Lynch must earn the confidence of the coaching staff and front office. The 49ers added explosive, 243-pound pass Pita Taumoepenu in the sixth round.

Tight end: The 49ers confirmed Vance McDonald was available for a trade during the draft. After finding no takers, the 49ers brought back McDonald and he rejoins the competition among rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

Cornerback: Rashard Robinson is the obvious choice to start on one side. And assuming Jimmie Ward remains at free safety, the 49ers have no other player on the roster who has started a significant number of games at cornerback. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, will have a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job, as long as he displays a willingness to stick his nose into the action and play with the requisite level of physicality. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Will Redmond should also be in the mix to replace Tramaine Brock, who was released shortly after his arrest after an alleged domestic incident last month.

Center: Jeremy Zuttah, a Pro Bowl performer, was added in the offseason via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniel Kilgore has been the 49ers’ center the past three seasons but injuries have limited him to just 23 starts over that period of time. Zuttah has position flexibility. The 49ers could determine the best thing for the offensive line is to move Zuttah to one of the guard positions – to challenge Zane Beadles or Joshua Garnett -- if he is not clearly better than Kilgore.

Weakside linebacker: The 49ers signed veteran Malcolm Smith on the first day of free agency, providing him with $11.5 million of fully guaranteed money. The 49ers ranked Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster as the No. 3 overall prospect in the draft. They traded up to select him at No. 31 overall. Assuming Foster is ready to compete at the beginning of training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, it appears likely he would line up in that position and compete with Smith. The 49ers’ medical staff does not believe Foster will require any additional surgery, and Foster said he expects to be cleared for the opening of camp.

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spent last offseason working with Tom House and Adam Dedeaux on his throwing mechanics.

Ryan went on to set career-bests in completion percentage (69.9), yards passing (4,944), touchdowns (38), interceptions (7) and passer rating (117.1).

New 49ers quarterback Matt Barkley worked with House and Dedeaux for the fourth offseason in Southern California before reporting to Santa Clara for the team’s offseason program.

“Kyle (Shanhan) is on board with what House and those guys are doing – I think, really, because of the year Matt Ryan had,” Barkley said on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” on NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He’s a believer in that. He saw the benefits of what Matt did with some of his drops and the timing on routes, how he changed his feet on some things. So we’re kind of sticking with that plan. Everyone is a little different, but for the most part we’re all on the same page when it comes to what our drops are looking like, our footwork and how the ball is coming out.”

House is a former major league pitcher and pitching coach who founded the 3DQB training facility in Los Angeles. Dedeaux pitched at USC and is the grandson of USC baseball coaching legend Rod Dedeaux. Former NFL quarterback John Beck is a motion mechanics instructor.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer are among the NFL quarterbacks who have worked with 3DQB.

“I believe in those guys and what they’re doing,” Barkley said. “They’re at the top of their game, working with Brady and a bunch of other guys. They’ve helped me.

“He won’t change your throwing motion or really tweak how the ball comes out, but he’s going to try to maximize velocity and ground force production and torque -- a lot of sports science terms. But, really, just maximizing efficiency with your motion and making sure you’re sequencing is right.”

Barkley had never played for Shanahan before signing a two-year contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency. But there are two obvious connections. Barkley’s offensive coordinator last season with the Chicago Bears was Dowell Loggains, Shanahan’s quarterbacks coach in 2014 when Shanahan was the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator. The other connection is House.

"It’s kind of funny, he worked with Atlanta’s staff all of last year, helped Matt Ryan, kind of build his base from the ground up and helped him a lot and he had an MVP year," Barkley said of House.

"There may have been talks down the pipeline, who knows. I don’t think that was the deciding factor by any means, but it never hurts.”