Five 49ers to Watch During Rookie Minicamp

Rookie minicamp starts Friday for the 49ers and ends Saturday.
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Rookie minicamp starts Friday for the 49ers and ends Saturday. Here are the five rookies to keep the closest the eye on.

1. QB Trey Lance

How rusty is he? He played only one game in 2020 -- he almost certainly will be rusty. And that's OK. The season starts four months from now. He has more than enough time to knock off the rust in time to beat out Jimmy Garoppolo for the starting job.

But how much rust are we talking here? Will Lance throw a few errant passes, or will he slip and fall and fumble the ball? Will he look unprepared, or like a kid who can take a man's job? I expect he'll look like a professional.

2. OG Aaron Banks

Of all the rookies, Banks is the one most expected to start right away. He's the 49ers second-round pick, and he should be the Week 1 right guard if he's ready.

So how will he look at rookie minicamp? Will he look like a Day 1 starter? Meaning will he stand out from the rest of the rookies on the practice field? Or will he look similar to some rookie who won't make the team?

I expect Banks to be impressive. He's huge -- 6'5", 338 pounds. I'm curious to see how well he moves.

3. CB Ambry Thomas

Thomas opted out of the 2020 season, so he should look rusty. He certainly struggled in January during the 1-on-1 drills at the Senior Bowl. But Thomas has high-end physical traits, which means he can develop into a No. 1 cornerback. Plus, he returned kickoffs in college. It will be interesting to see if he'll return kickoffs for the 49ers.

4. RB Elijah Mitchell

Mitchell is the second running back the 49ers drafted after Trey Sermon, and Mitchell is the fast one -- he ran a 4.3 at his Pro Day. It will be interesting to see if that timed speed shows itself on the practice field.

5. WR Austin Watkins

An undrafted free agent who's a possession receiver that specializes at making contested catches, similar to former 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. But does Watkins get open as well as Bourne, who's extremely quick? We'll see soon enough.