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49er rookie minicamp: Thomas, Taylor, Williams shine

Thirty-two signees and 56 first-year tryouts suited up to participate in the San Francisco 49ers’ rookie minicamp on Friday afternoon in Santa Clara.

For many, this will wind up being the highlight of their football careers while simultaneously marking the end of the road as far as playing in the NFL is concerned.

For others however, Friday was only their first day on the job as 49er rookies who will eventually make the 53-man roster before the 2017 NFL season.

One rookie just getting started is first-round pick, Solomon Thomas out of Stanford University.

The No. 3 overall pick lived up to that billing on Friday, showcasing the speed and versatility that warranted his selection at such a high spot.

Sporting a new number (96) compared to his days at Stanford, Thomas took it upon himself to go first in every defensive lineman drill in position groups that included step-over, sled and five-on-five workouts.

Thomas’ foot speed was on full display during step over drills as his agility overshadowed nearly every other defensive lineman.

Sleds were no match for Thomas either, as the 6-foot-3, 256-pound 21-year-old simply manhandled the red silhouettes of would-be offensive linemen.

Thomas’ dominance continued when the rookies gathered to participate low-contact 11-on-11 drills. Lining up on the edge, Thomas was able to swiftly move past opposing offensive lineman and get to the quarterback more often than not, thus disrupting the play.

Beyond Thomas, other standout players included fifth-round pick (WR) Trent Taylor out of Louisiana Tech, and fourth-round pick (RB) Joe Williams from Utah.

Both Taylor and Williams held their own during 11-on-11 drills as each made their mark on the day’s practice.

Williams demonstrated  his highly advertised speed, breaking off several runs up the middle while leaving frustrated tacklers in his wake.

Taylor, on the other hand, made several tough catches in traffic and on the sidelines. The 5-foot-8 receiver lined up in the slot for the majority of the day and demonstrated his sure-handed ability.

The play of the day, however, had to go to undrafted rookie wide receiver Kendrick Bourne out of Eastern Washington, who had perhaps the most spectacular catch of the afternoon.

On a fade route down the left sideline, Bourne was able to haul in a slightly overthrown ball from fellow UFA Nick Mullens by stretching out and snagging the ball by the tips of his fingers while also keeping both feet in bounds.

Bourne would pop up and let out a bellowing “Woooooo!,” as he spun the ball on the artificial turf that makes up the 49er practice field.

One player who suited up but was noticeably absent during the majority of team and position drills was first-rounder (LB) Reuben Foster.

Foster was sidelined due to a pre-existing shoulder injury that could potentially require surgery to repair. While it was a good sign to see Foster on the field, there is some reason to be concerned considering he did not participate in any drills.

With the remaining two days of rookie minicamp still ahead, the 49ers hope to see much more out of the 88 participants invited to attend.

The reality, however, is that many of those 88 will not see an NFL field again after Sunday, which makes the next two days that much more important.

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