Niners want big season in new home=2
r," Harbaugh said.
With the free-agent departure of veteran Jonathan Goodwin, the 49ers have a pretty sizable hole at center where he conducted one of the league's best offensive lines over the last three seasons. Getting first-team reps has been Daniel Kilgore, who will be competing with rookie third-round pick Marcus Martin for the starting job.
Even without Alex Boone and right tackle Anthony Davis - who should be back in time for the start of training camp after having offseason shoulder surgery - the three-day minicamp seemed like a good opportunity for a number of reserve lineman to get a volume of reps.
--The 49ers have revamped their wide receiving corps this offseason by adding players Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd. But it was a rookie that made perhaps the biggest impact on the field during minicamp.
"Bruce (Ellington) has been amazing out here," quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. "He's picked things up very quickly. Good route runner. Very good feel for the game and he's made plays when we've given him the opportunity."
--Thi team's minicamp was Kaepernick's first chance to play general for his team since signing his six-year, $114 million contract extension. He was asked if getting the deal done before the start of training camp provided any relief knowing the negotiations wouldn't bleed into training camp.
"I wouldn't say a relief. It wasn't something I was ever worried about," Kaepernick said. "I was playing football. I would say it's probably more of a relief for my agents than anyone. But, I'm very happy that the contract is done and happy to be here for a lot more years."
--When it comes to tight ends, there is little doubt the 49ers miss their best, Vernon Davis, who continues to miss minicamp while holding out for a new contract.
However, his absence is allowing wide receivers to take some of the June spotlight.
Rookie fourth-round pick Bruce Ellington, second-year player Quinton Patton and veteran Brandon Lloyd are highlighting a passing attack that will be heavily scrutinized in 2014. San Francisco's passing game ranked 30th in the league last season, and it couldn't come through late in postseason games that ended their last two deep runs in the playoffs.
For the 49ers, who use a lot of two-tight end sets and often face eight-man fronts, there is a need to find ways to spread out defenses to get more room to run.
By adding Ellington, Lloyd and Stevie Johnson -- who has worked sparingly in individual drills this offseason -- the 49ers hope they can force defenses to play more honestly, creating space for the running game.
With Davis gone, tight ends Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek are receiving the majority of reps with the first-team offense, while Derek Carrier, Asante Cleveland and Kevin Greene are working with the reserves. McDonald, a second-round pick in last year's draft, appears to have the upper hand on returning as the team's No. 2 tight end.
However, it hasn't been a great camp for McDonald to this point. He continues to drop more passes than he should. He made just eight grabs for 119 yards in his rookie season.
NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A closer look at the 49ers' picks:
Round 1/30 -- Jimmie Ward, S, 5-11, 193, Northern Illinois