The Niners began a three-day minicamp with rookies and selected veterans, and it was the latter group who stood out during 90 minutes of practice at the team's Santa Clara headquarters. A contingent of almost 50 players – at least half of which have no chance of making the team in September – took part in the drills.
But safety Tony Parrish will make the team. So will second-year players such as running back Kevan Barlow and defensive end Andre Carter. Those players were easy to spot Wednesday.
Barlow made sharp cuts and found holes as if he were wearing a homing device. Third-year veteran Jonas Lewis also looked good bursting into the secondary and catching passes out of the backfield. Carter – appearing bigger, faster and more skilled after coming on strong at the end of his fine rookie season – almost had to restrain himself as he showed his stuff.
"The sophomores, the guys like that, Kevan Barlow and Andre Carter, (they) look more veteran-like, compared to what they looked like a year ago, compared to the rookies that are out here right now," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said. "Second-year players make improvements in leaps and bounds over their rookie seasons."
Parrish and defensive end Sean Moran – both signed by the Niners as free agents on April 2 – were the only veterans with more than two years of experience that took part in Wednesday's session, besides quarterbacks Tim Rattay and Aaron Garcia.
"The veterans that we selected are the second-year players and the new guys," Mariucci said. "Quarterbacks are always here, they don't skip a beat. We excused Jeff (Garcia) because we want to give Tim Rattay and Brandon Doman and Aaron Garcia as much work as we possibly can."
Second-year defensive backs Rashad Holman and Al Blades also looked smooth and experienced as they worked in the first-group secondary with Parrish and first-round draft pick Mike Rumph, who continues to work on his technique at right cornerback.
Moran and second-year vet John Schlecht also caught notice along the defensive line, while rookie third-round draft pick Saleem Rasheed, undrafted rookie free agent Brandon Moore and second-year vet Quincy Stewart were the first-group linebackers.
On offense, running back Saladin McCullough – who made a nice impression in training camp with the Niners last year before being waived – looked quick as he shared the bulk of the carries with Barlow and Lewis. Second-year receiver Cedrick Wilson was active and the ball stuck to his hands.
Kyle Kosier – one of the team's three seventh-round draft picks – was a fixture at right tackle during team drills and second-year tight end Eric Johnson looked like the seasoned vet he is while running routes and snagging passes at tight end.
One newcomer vet who wasn't present was All-Pro guard Ron Stone, who was signed by the team in a free-agent coup on April 12.
"We didn't ask Ron Stone to come in," Mariucci said. "He'll be in this (next) week."