The San Francisco 49ers have to deal with the dreaded Super Bowl hangover after a heartbreaking loss in the championship game and they're still stuck in the most competitive division in the entire NFL, but based on the overall strength of their roster, they have the look of a Super Bowl contender. They didn't go 13-3 on accident and if not for Patrick Mahomes' fourth-quarter heroics, they would've lifted the Lombardi Trophy. Now, fresh off that incredible season that came up only a few minutes short of the ultimate prize, they're aiming to take it one step further in 2020.
The good news is that the 49ers have a complete enough roster to do exactly that. For the most part, with the exceptions of DeForest Buckner (traded to the Colts), Emmanuel Sanders (signed with the Saints in free agency), and Joe Staley (retired) the 49ers are bringing back most of their core in 2020. And even in the case of those three aforementioned players, the 49ers did well to reload at those three positions, using their two first-round picks on Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk, and trading for Trent Williams. In short, this team remains the best of the division and arguably the entire conference.
With all that in mind, we decided that now would be a good time to examine the 49ers' roster heading into the summer. Below, you'll find our projections for the way the 49ers' depth chart should shake out as the season approaches.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
|QB||Jimmy Garoppolo||Nick Mullens||C.J. Beathard||Broc Rutter*|
|RB||Raheem Mostert||Tevin Coleman||Jeff Wilson|| Jerick McKinnon|
|WR||Deebo Samuel||Trent Taylor||Travis Benjamin|| Chris Finke*|
|WR|| Kendrick Bourne||Jalen Hurd|| Richie James|| Chris Thompson|
|WR||Brandon Aiyuk*||Dante Pettis|| Jauan Jennings*|| Shawn Poindexter|
|TE||George Kittle||Ross Dwelley||Daniel Helm||Charlie Woerner*|
|LT||Trent Williams||Justin Skule||Colton McKivitz*||Leonard Wester|
|LG||Laken Tomlinson||Kofi Amichia||Shon Coleman|| |
|C||Weston Richburg||Ben Garland||Jake Brendel|| |
|RG||Tom Compton||Daniel Brunskill||Ross Reynolds|| |
|RT||Mike McGlinchey||Shon Coleman||Colton McKivitz*||Jaryd Jones-Smith|
The 49ers are settled at quarterback and feature one of the deepest quarterback rooms with Jimmy Garoppolo locked in as the starter after his first full season led to encouraging results and Nick Mullens as the backup after he filled in admirably for Garoppolo in 2018. They even have a quality third-string backup in C.J. Beathard.
At running back, the 49ers relied on a committee a season ago, and it seems likely that things will remain that way in 2020. Raheem Mostert, after breaking out in the postseason, should continue to gather plenty of touches along with Tevin Coleman. It'll be interesting to see if Jerick McKinnon, who signed with the team before the 2018 season but has yet to make his debut due to injuries, can finally factor into the committee. At tight end, the 49ers are set with George Kittle as the star.
Where things begin to get dicey are at receiver, but only because Deebo Samuel broke his foot and could miss the beginning of the regular season. At this point, it's unclear if he'll be ready for Week 1. Brandon Aiyuk is slated to start. Kendrick Bourne, after flashing potential down the stretch, should continue to garner reps. Meanwhile, the injury to Samuel provides former second-round pick Dante Pettis with an opportunity to rebound after a massively disappointing 2019 season. The team did add veteran Travis Benjamin this offseason, giving them another option if Samuel misses game time.
The most notable area of competition is at right guard. Four of the starting spots up front are set in stone, but there's a gap at right guard after Mike Person was released. It'll likely come down to a competition between veteran Tom Compton, who signed with the 49ers in free agency, and Daniel Brunskill.
|DE||Arik Armstead||Dee Ford||Ronald Blair|
|DT||Solomon Thomas||Jullian Taylor||Willie Henry|
|DT||Javon Kinlaw*||D.J. Jones||Kevin Givens|
|DE||Nick Bosa||Kentavius Street||Alex Barrett|
|SLB||Dre Greenlaw||Mark Nzeocha||Jonas Griffith*|
|MLB||Fred Warner||Joe Walker||Azeez Al-Shaair|
|WLB||Kwon Alexander||Joey Alfieri|| Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles|
|CB||Richard Sherman||Dontae Johnson||Tim Harris|
|CB||Ahkello Witherspoon||Emmanuel Moseley||Jason Verrett|
|CB||K'Waun Williams||D.J. Reed||Teez Tabor|
|FS||Jimmie Ward||Tarvarius Moore||D.J. Reed|
|SS||Jaquiski Tartt||Marcell Harris|| Derrick Kindred |
Most of the 49ers' vaunted defense is returning in 2020. Up front, what's notable is that first-round pick Javon Kinlaw should immediately take DeForest Buckner's place while pass rusher Dee Ford, who is listed as a backup, should see plenty of snaps in passing situations. With the underrated D.J. Jones also listed as a backup, this 49ers defensive line remains supremely stacked. It's still among the league's best.
Behind the defensive front, it'll be interesting to monitor what happens at linebacker, specifically if Kwon Alexander regains his starting job at weakside linebacker or if Dre Greenlaw keeps the job after filling in for Alexander in the second half of last season when Alexander got hurt. Given just how much money the team gave Alexander in free agency last year, he's the safest bet to get that job next to Fred Warner. Greenlaw should still see plenty of the field, even if Alexander gets his job back, especially when the team deploys three linebackers.
The other interesting battle is at cornerback opposite Richard Sherman. Last year, Ahkello Witherspoon started eight games, but was benched for Emmanuel Moseley in the playoffs. The competition should pick up in the summer whenever training camp begins.
Otherwise, the defense is mostly set. And that's a good thing. This defense is talented and deep enough to be the league's top unit.
|K||Robbie Gould|| |
|P||Mitch Wishnowsky|| |
|LS||Kyle Nelson|| |
|KR||Richie James||Travis Benjamin|
|PR||Richie James||Dante Pettis|
The 49ers have a ton of stability on special teams. Robbie Gould, who signed a huge deal last year, will be back at kicker. Mitch Wishnowsky, who was drafted in the fourth round last year, will return as punter. Finally, Richie James, who handled return duties a season ago, should continue to do so in 2020.
A year ago, the 49ers' ranked 12th in special teams DVOA. With all of their main contributors returning, they'll have continuity on their side in 2020. In a truncated offseason, that could matter more than usual.