49ers training camp is fewer than 48 hours away.
The team will kick things off Wednesday at 10:17 a.m. on the dot and continue until their one day break on Sunday.
From the moment training camp gets rolling, there will immediately be plenty of competition battles to keep a close eye on. But there are some that are more crucial and more exciting than others.
Here are five 49ers training camp battles to watch.
Trey Lance against Jimmy Garoppolo
The most obvious and easiest one to name right off the bat is the battle for the starting quarterback position between incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo and the future of the franchise, Trey Lance. Watching these two go at it for the starting position is going to be quite the sight, and it is one that the 49ers will benefit tremendously from. They get Garoppolo to play at his best and stay on his toes to keep him playing at a high-level. They get Lance to play at his best to further expedite his development.
It all plays into the 49ers' hands, but ultimately there will only be one starter to be named from this. This is Lance's most prime opportunity to usurp the starting role from Garoppolo along with the preseason. This isn't so much about Garoppolo, rather it is about Lance. He will need to continue to ascend and rapidly if he hopes to be named the Week 1 starter. Regardless, this is a battle that is sure to bring the best out of both players.
Trent Williams against Nick Bosa
Last year's training camp saw the greatest training camp battle for the 49ers between Trent Williams and Nick Bosa. Watching these two go at it from 30 feet away and hearing the pads collide was ferocious for a practice. This is a battle that I am surely going to look forward to again. You can never deny that two elite talents getting after each other is not a thrilling one.
Unfortunately, seeing these two is sure to be limited since Bosa is coming off a torn ACL. There is probably only going to really be a few practices with about a few reps each where these two actually get to duke it out. Still, that small sample size is definitely worth it to watch. It is also most beneficial for Bosa to get some of those looks against Williams to be used as a measuring stick to see where exactly he is at with his knee and to get him back up to speed.
Mike McGlinchey against anyone
I focused a lot on the offensive line at training camp last year, so when Mike McGlinchey started looking porous in live games, it did not fully shock me. There was some foreshadowing with McGlinchey in training camp when backup players were giving him trouble. It is something that I will not make light of again because it turned out his weight loss and lack of focus turned out to be major.
McGlinchey has to bully his teammates in camp. He needs to bring out a vicious side of him that no one knows about. No more being "Mr. Nice Guy" with everyone. He needs to become a bully and stop being bullied. Part of his redemption tour starts now in training camp. If he struggles against his teammates without being fully padded, then he will replicate his 2020 season.
Brandon Aiyuk against Jason Verrett
This might be the training camp battle I am looking forward to most. Brandon Aiyuk had an impressive rookie season and is sure to build on it this year. Jason Verrett had a return to elite form this year with health no longer being an issue. Now Verrett is the top cornerback going into camp and as well as Aiyuk as the top receiver. These two didn't get to see much action against each other last year. This year's camp is surely going to be different.
"Iron sharpens iron," as the saying goes. What better way to get Aiyuk improved than having him battle against Verrett. This is a battle that should favor Verrett, so the 49ers need to emphasize this duel the most because Verrett can help Aiyuk a ton here. Jalen Ramsey is waiting in the wings for Aiyuk. Verrett is the best player to get Aiyuk ready for that. And of course watching these two play against each other will always garner excitement.
Kyle Shanahan against DeMeco Ryans
One battle that always gets overlooked is the battle between the offensive coordinator and the defensive coordinator. In training camp, these two coaches are not scripting plays like they would during an actual game week. They are literally trying to compete with each other and have bragging rights when practice is over. Robert Saleh would actually get the best of Kyle Shanahan last year more times than not. This year it is going to be up to DeMeco Ryans to stress out Shanahan.
This will be his first test to try out his new wrinkles in the defense before putting them on display in the preseason. If he can get Shanahan to cuss out loud, which he does a lot when his offense fails to win, then that is already an enormous endorsement to his readiness. Just like with Lance and Aiyuk, Shanahan can help develop Ryans a bit here by taking him to the woodshed. The chess match between these two has genius written all over it.