49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

May 18, 2009
Four-day OTA kicks off today

Here's a story I wrote for today's Bee about the roster competitions that, practically speaking, begin today with the opening of a four-day minicamp. Space issues in the paper required me to stop where I did, but I could have thrown at least one more position, defensive end, into the mix. Isaac Sopoaga and Justin Smith are the starters right now at left and right defensive end respectively. Behind them, Demetric Evans, Kentwan Balmer and Ricky Jean-Francois are jockeying for playing time. Ray McDonald will be tossed into the mix when he recovers from knee surgery, which likely will be some time in the preseason.

The OTAs are not mandatory, so I don't know yet which vets are here and which aren't. The rookies who can't participate are Ohio State OT Alex Boone and Stanford DE Pannel Egboh. Kicker Alex Romero also is not here.

***update*** Two of the vets that aren't here are Isaac Bruce and Mark Roman. Bruce is a 16-year vet, the most experienced player on the team. However, this is his first year in a new offense and he missed the previous minicamp. Roman has been given permission to seek a trade. I'm told receiver Arnaz Battle is here, but he was not on the field during morning drills. Several players will attend the OTA but will have light or little participation. They are: Michael Lewis, Shawntae Spencer, McDonald, Marvel Smith (he looked good in individual drills) and Michael Crabtree.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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