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49ers offensive depth chart: Looking to add another playmaker in 2019

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AP

49ers offensive depth chart: Looking to add another playmaker in 2019

While there are few starting spots sewn up on the 49ers’ defense entering the 2019 offseason, most of the pieces are set on the offensive side of the ball.

As the 49ers approached the 2018 season, coach Kyle Shanahan built the offensive system around quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon. But McKinnon sustained a torn ACL a week before the opener, and Garoppolo was lost for the season in Week 3 with an ACL tear of his own.

The organization expects Garoppolo to be ready to take part in workouts when the 49ers get back on the practice field in May. There is some concern about McKinnon making a full recovery due to the nature of the position he plays.

Shanahan wants to add at least one more legitimate playmaker in the passing game to go along with George Kittle, who had more receiving yards this season than any tight end in NFL history.

The most continuity figures to be along the offensive line, where four of the five starters from a year ago are locked in at their positions.

Backfield

QB: Jimmy Garoppolo
RB: Jerick McKinnon/Matt Breida
FB: Kyle Juszczyk

The only quarterback competition will take place behind Garoppolo, where C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens will battle for the No. 2 job. It is not a foregone conclusion that Mullens will win the job, even after his solid play over the final eight games of the season.

If McKinnon regains anything close to the form the 49ers envisioned when they signed him in free agency a year ago, he will be relied upon to create conflicts for the defense as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. The presence of McKinnon, Juszczyk and Kittle working the middle of the field will force defenses to make some difficult decisions in coverage. The 49ers should be able to exploit the weak link with any of those options.

Breida proved that he is a fully capable runner. Despite battling injuries for most of the season, Breida rushed for 814 yards while averaging 5.3 yards per attempt. However, the 49ers lack a traditional short-yardage back.

Receivers

WR (X): Dante Pettis/Marquise Goodwin
WR (Z): Kendrick Bourne
Slot: Trent Taylor/Richie James
TE: George Kittle

One of the biggest offseason priorities on offense is to find another wide receiver who can take the load off Goodwin, whom Shanahan believes is not best-suited as an every-down player. Pettis, coming off a 27-catch rookie season in which he averaged 17.3 yards a reception, should be a starter. Bourne was the 49ers’ top-producing wideout with 42 catches for 487 yards. Bourne, like Goodwin, is probably best in a limited role.

The 49ers need to get more from the slot position in 2019. Taylor had a good rookie season, but he was not the same player in his second year. Taylor underwent back surgery in the offseason and never fully got involved in the offense. James showed some promise but was extremely raw.

Kittle was the team’s brightest star this season. The other tight ends (Garrett Celek, Ross Dwelley and Cole Wick) combined for just seven catches for 104 yards. The 49ers need better depth.

Offensive line

LT: Joe Staley
LG: Laken Tomlinson
C: Weston Richburg
RG: TBA
RT: Mike McGlinchey

Staley, the veteran, was good for McGlinchey, the rookie. And McGlinchey was good for Staley, who seemed energized by the interaction with his protégé. The tackle positions are set for another year or two. And when Staley steps aside, McGlinchey will likely move over to the left side.

Tomlinson’s offseason will be impacted by a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for three months. But he should be ready to go for the offseason program. Richburg will enter his second season with the 49ers. There are no questions there, either.

The only spot where there could be some competition for the starting job is at right guard, where Person started 16 games and proved to be a great bargain for the club. He is scheduled to be a free agent. It would seem likely he will be back. Joshua Garnett could also enter into the competition, and the 49ers might add a youngster, too.

49ers' Trent Williams excited to play with 'awesome' Jimmy Garoppolo

49ers' Trent Williams excited to play with 'awesome' Jimmy Garoppolo

Trent Williams has been named to seven Pro Bowls, but hasn’t exactly played with a lot of championship-caliber quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins were the closest thing Williams got to consistent quarterback play during his nine seasons in Washington.

The 49ers acquired Williams in April for a pair of draft picks, hoping the left tackle can return to his previous form after missing all of last season due to a holdout and failed physical. While joining NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport on his podcast Monday, Williams expressed his excitement to block for 49ers’ signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

“I think Jimmy G is awesome,” Williams said on “RapSheet + Friends.” “I think he has proven that he’s a quarterback you can win with. In this league, it’s just hard to find.

“Having a quarterback that you know is gonna make the right read, the right throw, that has to allow Kyle (Shanahan), a chance to sleep at night.”

Williams has played in just two playoff games in his NFL career, and recognizes the importance of quality quarterback play for a team to be successful.

“From being in my position, not having a lot of success in the league, having a good quarterback and having a kind of musical chairs back there, I know the importance of it. So I’m extremely happy just to be part of an offense that really don’t need me to win. I (just) add to it.”

[RELATED: 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk's epic JUCO performance showed playmaking ability]

After years of residing in NFL purgatory, Williams now has the opportunity to compete for a championship and help the 49ers take the next step and try to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to the Bay Area.

Garoppolo has been pretty quiet throughout the offseason, but it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t feel the same way about having Williams defend his blindside in 2020.

49ers' Ben Garland details hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro after Super Bowl loss

49ers' Ben Garland details hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro after Super Bowl loss

It’s a 20,000-foot hike to the top, but Mt. Kilimanjaro has been a place for climbers to knock an adventure off their bucket list since the first record of such a feat occurred in 1889. For 49ers offensive lineman Ben Garland, he not only made the trek, but made history in the process.

Back in February, Garland became the first active NFL player and military reservist to reach the peak in Africa.

He also did it for a good cause and detailed his trip in a diary. 

Working with the Waterboys was originated by the Chris Long Foundation which brings clean water to communities in need, ESPN’s Nick Wagoner wrote. It raised more than $205,000 which went toward the trip itself and putting two clean water wells in Tanzania with a population of about 57 million not having access to clean water. 

[RELATED: Jed York explains why 49ers are donating $1M to social change organizations]

The group that included NFL defensive end Lamarr Houston, water advocates, ESPN radio host Mike Golic Jr. and military veterans, all began their trip in the Serengeti where they saw plenty of African wildlife and got to experience an authentic well ceremony and school visit.

Garland called it a life-changing experience and would be happy to return to Africa to hit his ultimate goal of providing more than 1 million people with clean water.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]