After weeks of Zoom meetings, individual workouts and walk-through sessions, the 49ers are scheduled to hit the practice field for the first time on Saturday in Santa Clara.
Two days later, the team will be in pads for the first time since blowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
And thus begins the competition as general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan must determine the 49ers' 53-man roster for the regular-season opener on Sunday, Sept. 13, against the Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers have 80 players in camp, and here is our first look at our early roster projection for the 2020 season:
In: Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard
While it has been a debate in recent years whether to carry two or three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, there is no debate this season. If they kept three a year ago, they sure as heck are going to keep three this season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Running back (5)
In: Raheem Mostert, Kyle Juszczyk, Tevin Coleman Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson
Out: Salvon Ahmed, JaMycal Hasty, Josh Hokit
The door is open for Ahmed or Hasty to factor into a roster spot as a third-down back behind McKinnon. But with no preseason games, it seems to reason the 49ers would be able to hold on to either of those players for the practice squad, if that’s the direction they want to take.
Wide receiver (5)
In: Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd, Richie James (Deebo Samuel/non-football injury)
Out: Dante Pettis, Jauan Jennings, Tavon Austin, J.J. Nelson, Chris Thompson, Shawn Poindexter
The team seems to be expecting Samuel to miss the first six games of the season as he rehabs from surgery to repair a Jones fracture. But looking at some of his workout videos, it might not be a stretch to think he can return earlier. The 49ers expect to sign veteran receivers Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson after they had good workouts on Friday morning. Whether either player makes the team to open the season, that’s another question. Of course, the 49ers could keep six receivers on their roster for a while. But it seems it's most likely to come down to one of those veterans or James. We're going to give James the nod because of his return skills. The onus is on Pettis to prove he can bring something to the team after he disappeared last season. Jennings, a late-round draft pick, is going to put up one heck of a fight for a roster spot. Do not rule him out.
Tight end (4)
In: George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Jordan Reed, Ross Dwelley
Out: Daniel Helm, Chase Harrell
Kittle is a wealthy man. And this year he has a wealth of players around him, too. The 49ers are likely to keep four tight ends again this season because Reed’s availability is not something the 49ers should take for granted.
Offensive line (9)
In: Trent Williams, Mike McGlinchey, Laken Tomlinson, Tom Compton, Daniel Brunskill, Ben Garland, Colton McKivitz, Justin Skule, Spencer Long (Weston Richburg/physically unable to perform)
Out: Williams Sweet, Jaryd Jones-Smith, Kofi Amichia, Ross Reynolds
Garland played well at center to finish last season. There’s no word on the team’s plan for Richburg, but it seems it would be wise for them to take the cautious approach and give him another six weeks of rehab to open the season. After all, he is returning from a torn patellar tendon in his knee. Long, a late addition to the roster, could prove to be valuable as a backup interior lineman.
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Defensive line (9)
In: Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, D.J. Jones, Javon Kinlaw, Solomon Thomas, Jullian Taylor, Kentavius Street, Ronald Blair
Out: Dion Jordan, Kerry Hyder, Darrion Daniels, Kevin Givens, Jonathan Kongbo
Blair is coming off a torn ACL, which ended his season in November. If he’s ready to go, he is the clear-cut No. 3 edge rusher. Jordan and Hyder have NFL experience. One of them has a shot to win a spot with an impressive training camp.
In: Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Kwon Alexander, Azeez Al-Shaair, Mark Nzeocha, Joe Walker
Out: Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Jonas Griffith
Flanigan-Fowles and Griffith have their chances to win a roster spot if they stand out on special-teams coverage units. Again, with no preseason games, the 49ers stand little chance of losing either to the waiver wire before getting them to return for spots the practice squad.
Defensive back (9)
In: Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, K’Waun Williams, Tarvarius Moore, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett, Marcell Harris
Out: Jamar Taylor, Tim Harris, Dontae Johnson, Jared Mayden, DeMarkus Acy
There has to be a reason the 49ers re-signed Verrett. And that’s because they believe he has a chance to be an important contributor . . . if he can remain healthy. Moseley is the favorite to start opposite of Sherman, but Verrett and Witherspoon will look to jump into that competition. Harris should stick around on the practice squad, for sure.
In: Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Kyle Nelson
Now that this group will be back for a full season, expect things to go a lot better from the beginning than a year ago.