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Niner Talk Bonus: 2014 Breakout Players

Posted Sep 3, 2014

This week's bonus round of "Niner Talk" touches on the likely breakout players in 2014, plus answers questions on the status of defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye and other notable topics.

First off, I have great news for fans of the San Francisco 49ers and our 49ers.com show "Niner Talk."

We're going to be on TV. Your 15 seconds of fame just got that much better...

The Twitter Q&A segment will be a part of "The Forty Niner Way" presented by NRG. Here's where and when you can watch the 30-minute show.

Now that we've taken care of that business, let's get to the questions that didn't quite make it to the big screen.

Yes, several. Allow me to elaborate.

DB Jimmie Ward - He'll get a chance to play as the team's nickel cornerback and he's as unproven as they come. He's never played in the NFL! The first-round draft pick has shown excellent poise and agression in his first training camp/preseason in the league. I fully expect his tenacity to carry over into the regular season.

CB Chris Culliver - He hasn't played since Super Bowl XLVII, but the fourth-year cornerback plays with a lot of swagger. The 2014 season will be his first year starting and I think we'll see Culliver continue to challenge himself against the NFL's top wideouts. When he was the team's third cornerback two seasons ago, prior to his season-ending ACL injury, Culliver never backed down from a challenge. He covered the likes of Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson and DeSean Jackson. I expect Culliver to compete with the NFL's elite players once again.

C Daniel Kilgore - He's another first-year starter. Kilgore takes over at center for Jonathan Goodwin and he's looked sharp throughout the offseason. Kilgore will be challenged right off the bat with a road game, but he's shown to have an even-keeled temperament. Kilgore is also an underrated athlete. Perhaps the 49ers tap into that with more screen passes? We'll have to wait and see.

Colin Kaepernick and Patrick Willis.

First off, those are two of the team's captains for the '14 season. Offensive tackle Joe Staley and defensive tackle Justin Smith are the other two captains. Back to Kap and P-Willy, both will be counted on to spark their respective units and I believe they'll be ready to do so.

Kaepernick will face a young Cowboys defense and Willis will be challenged by Tony Romo's spread passing attack, which includes veteran tight end Jason Witten.

I'm going with "The Annexation of Puerto Rico."

Dallas will never see it coming, unless they read this post.

That will be a coaching decision. Boone said he'll be "very effective" if given the chance to play, but he'll likely have to prove that in practice this week.

It give him another year to grow, that's for sure. Remember, this is just his second season in football, at any level.

If Lawrence Okoye was kept around on the practice squad, he showed enough in the preseason to warrant more time with the coaching staff. What will his future look like? It can't hurt to have another 12 months with Jim Tomsula as your position coach.


Do they need one?

Ask me after the Dallas.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the 49ers don't put a number on their receivers, but we'll have a better idea of who the third receiver based on playing time in Dallas.

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