49ers camp: Three goals and top battle

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon will have chances to catch passes from Jimmy Garoppolo this season.Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the 49ers' priorities

By Dave Del Grande

Three goals:

  • Introduce Pierre Garcon to Jimmy Garoppolo. The amazing thing about Garoppolo's explosion onto the 49ers' scene last season was that he somehow transformed a vertical talent into a horizontal weapon. If Garoppolo can do that with Bills castoff Marquise Goodwin, imagine the possibilities with a professional pass-catcher like Garcon, who was lost to a season-ending injury well before the Patriots gifted the 49ers. The guy had 500 receiving yards in eight games with the likes of Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard staring him down. The hook-up with Garoppolo has scary potential.

  • Fish or cut bait with defensive lineman Arik Armstead. The 49ers' new regime was quick to give pink slips to most of the previous reign's holdovers, but elected to stick with Armstead for some reason. Alas, he was just as unproductive last season as he'd been in his first two after having been the No. 17 overall pick of the 2015 draft. The 49ers have Jeremiah Attaochu and Cassius Marsh waiting in the wings should Armstead, as expected, continue to disappoint, so no real-time snaps need to be wasted should he appear headed down the same rocky road.

  • Determine just how good Adrian Colbert is. Jimmie Ward gives the 49ers great versatility in the secondary, as he's able to play pretty much anywhere. First priority: Free safety, where Colbert was the club's second-biggest surprise during their successful run late last season. But Colbert wouldn't be the first seventh-round pick to shine one December and crash back to earth the next August, so Ward will be to be on stand-by. If Colbert looks good, Ward could make himself available as a potential starter on the outside or cover corner in various packages.

Top battle:

--Backup running back. The 49ers imported potential lightning at the running back position in Jerick McKinnon. But he's just 5-foot-9 and has started only 14 games in his four-year career. Suffice it to say, either Matt Breida or Joe Williams, a pair of 2017 rookies, better be ready to go. The 49ers know what they have in Breida, who got 126 touches last season. The hope is that Williams, drafted in the fourth round, can live up to that potential and be a legitimate replacement option should things go south for McKinnon.