AFC West: Vance McDonald

Monday, we looked at the San Francisco 49ers' breakouts players in 2013. Today, let's look, in alphabetical order, at some of the candidates to take the next step in 2014:

Adam Kilgore: Kilgore is a candidate to start if the 49ers don't re-sign 35-year-old free-agent center Jonathan Goodwin. Kilgore has been in the program for a few years and has played in some packages. He may soon get his chance to be a full-timer.

Vance McDonald: The 2013 second-round pick improved as the season went on, especially as a blocker. He was known as a pass-catcher in college, but he struggled in that area as a rookie. Still, the 49ers have high hopes for him.

Quinton Patton: This 2013 fourth-round pick played a lot in December and in the playoffs after he returned from a broken foot. Patton has skills, explosion and confidence. We could see big production in Year 2.

Michael Wilhoite: Wilhoite will likely start at the beginning of the season at inside linebacker if NaVorro Bowman has to miss time because of his torn ACL. Wilhoite has played well as an injury replacement for fellow inside linebacker Patrick Willis in the past. I'd expect him to do the same if needed.

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