For most NFL players, the time between their first and second seasons is when they take the biggest jump. There’s no pre-draft process to worry about, they can focus exclusively on being a professional and channeling their first year of experience into improvement. However, the current NFL environment with the shutdown offers unique challenges to those players, including Cardinals QB Kyler Murray. The No. 1 overall pick in 2019 won offensive rookie of the year and a big jump by him could make Arizona a breakout team in 2020. While HC Kliff Kingsbury hasn’t had the benefit of on-field work to see Murray’s improvement, he says it’s showing in other ways.
“There’s definitely a different level of confidence, a different level of command of the offense and he feels it,” Kingsbury said via ArizonaSports.com’s Kevin Zimmerman. “Even though we haven’t been able to get out on the grass, he definitely feels a lot more comfortable heading into Year Two.”
The Athletic’s Matt Barrows wrote an early breakdown of the big position battles on the 49ers roster for 2020, including:
- Jerick McKinnon vs Jeff Wilson for the third running back spot, though San Francisco carried as many as four on the roster at times last years and also added UDFA RBs JaMycal Hasty and Salvon Ahmed.
- Assuming good health, Barrows has WRs Dante Pettis, Richie James, Travis Benjamin and seventh-round rookie Jauan Jennings battling for one, maybe two, spots as sixth or seventh on the depth chart.
- With Ross Dwelley as the frontrunner for No. 2 tight end, Daniel Helm and 2020 rookie Charlie Woerner will battle for the third and likely final spot.
- There are two or three spots available on the offensive line between a group that includes C Ben Garland, OT Justin Skule, OT Shon Coleman, G Tom Compton and OL Ross Reynolds among others, per Barrows.
- Barrows believes if DT Jullian Taylor starts the year on an injury list, that leaves two spots available on the defensive line between Kevin Givens, Kentavius Street and undrafted rookie Darrion Daniels.
- 49ers LBs Mark Nzeocha and Azeez Al-Shaair are the frontrunners for the final two linebacker spots but could receive competition from Joe Walker, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and rookie UDFA Jonas Griffith.
- Barrows says the fifth cornerback spot could come down to which of Jason Verrett or Tim Harris stays the healthiest.
- He adds 49ers S Marcell Harris seems like the most vulnerable if the team elects to go back to just four on the final roster.
- New Seahawks WR Phillip Dorsett, believes the 2020 season could be his “best year” in the NFL given Russell Wilson‘s accuracy on long passes: “I think this can be my best year.” Says Russell Wilson’s accuracy on deep throws was “definitely something I was aware of…one of those things that attracted me to Seattle,” via Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune.
- Dorsett mentioned that he’s been in contact with Wilson “all the time” this offseason, but added its been a “challenge” learning from the quarterback during the pandemic. (Bell)
- New Seahawks’ veteran OLB Bruce Irvin‘s one-year contract includes a $2.5 million guaranteed base salary and a $2 million signing bonus to go along with a $500,000 roster bonus that was due on the fifth day of the league year, $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses and $500,000 available through incentives. (Brady Henderson)