Undrafted rookie Kory Sheets is having some problems, and he’s not afraid to admit it.
Sheets, at times, has felt overwhelmed with the volume of the playbook, he said. “That’s my biggest problem right now,” he said. His college playbook at Purdue was pretty simple. If he remained in to block, his assignments were straightforward, he said.
But with the 49ers, he said making the adjustments on the fly while reading the opposing defense has been a challenge. A play designed for him to go to the right side might automatically change to the left side, depending on what the defensive linemen are doing.
Sheets’ game is speed. But, he said, “if I’m running the wrong way, it doesn’t matter how fast I am.” Sheets and the team’s other rookies on offense remained after practice today for about 15 minutes for some extra work with the coaches.
The 49ers have seven running backs on their roster. Sheets has an opportunity to make the team, as perhaps the No. 3 halfback. Frank Gore is the starter, and fellow rookie Glen Coffee, a third-round selection, will get the first crack at being the primary backup.
Michael Robinson is likely to earn a roster spot because of his versatility, including his standout play on special teams. Sheets and Thomas Clayton, the team’s leading rusher the past two exhibition seasons, will get to show their skills this summer.
“I’m just waiting for my chance,” Sheets said. “It’s going to come in training camp – that’s what the coaches tell me. I know once I get that shot I’m going to make it. The numbers game is something I don’t worry about. That’s for them (coaches/front office) to worry about.”
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Sheets has been labeled as a third-down back. However, he said he believes he is capable of being an every-down player because he has never been injury-prone. He currently measures at 5-foot-11, 203 pounds. He said he’s been told that he’ll have to play at 205 pounds. “That sounds good to me,” he said.
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That deepest group of receivers in 49ers history wasn’t looking so deep today. Here’s the rundown:
Isaac Bruce: Resting silently, no doubt, in
Arnaz Battle: Rehabbing foot injury
Michael Crabtree: Rehabbing foot injury
Jason Hill: Rehabbing hamstring strain
Josh Morgan: Sat out practice with “illness”
That left Brandon Jones and Dominique Zeigler as the only receivers in the 49ers’ top seven on the practice field today.
It’s pretty clear WRs coach Jerry Sullivan holds Zeigler in high regard. The WRs and QBs were working on a couple simple patterns for timing and rhythm. Each receiver must run the route a specific way to maintain continuity with the QB. While youngsters Maurice Price and Dobson Collins had their struggles, Sullivan told all his receivers after Zeigler’s 15-yard “out” route: “That’s how I want it to look.”
Why it’s important the 49ers have seven quality receivers entering training camp when they’re likely to keep only five or six wideouts on the team: Injuries happen. Also, it will help the evaluation process for the QB competition. Because there is very little drop-off among those top seven receivers, neither Shaun Hill nor Alex Smith will be working at a disadvantage.
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Three veteran players who have been regulars at OTAs were given the time off due to veteran status: Takeo Spikes, Dre’ Bly and Aubrayo Franklin.
Morgan, Kentwan Balmer and rookie OLB Diyral Briggs missed practice today because of “illnesses.”
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With Stanford graduation ceremonies taking place over the weekend, undrafted rookie defensive end Pannel Egboh finally became eligible to attend 49ers’ OTAs. He lined up at left defensive end with the No. 2 defense today.
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Today was about as uneventful as a day of practice can possibly be. Tomorrow is the final day of OTAs before the players disperse. Training camp is scheduled to open July 30.
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