49ers

49ers roster reset: Examining team outlook following 2019 NFL Draft

49ers roster reset: Examining team outlook following 2019 NFL Draft

The 49ers are set this week to add 11 undrafted rookies to their roster, along with their eight draft picks, to reach the league’s 90-man roster maximum for the first time this offseason.

There are likely to be some roster adjustments through training camp and up to the start of the regular season, but the vast majority of the team is set.

With their 19 rookie additions joining the other offseason acquisitions, here is a breakdown of the 49ers’ roster as it is currently constructed:

Quarterback

Locks: Jimmy Garoppolo
Looking good: C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens
On the bubble: None
Uphill climb: *Wilton Speight

Overview: Garoppolo’s rehab from his torn ACL is going just fine. He should be back on the field during organized team activities to take part in 7-on-7 drills. And the club expects Garoppolo to be a full-go when training camp opens in late-July.

The big question is whether the 49ers will keep three quarterbacks on the roster this season. It could go either way. The organization has high opinions of both Beathard, a third-round draft pick in 2017, and Mullens, who stepped in last season and finished the season strong.

However, just because Mullens outplayed Beathard last year does not give him the advantage. They will begin the offseason on equal footing as they compete for the backup job.

Under coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch, the 49ers have not kept three QBs on their roster, so while Beathard and Mullens are listed as "looking good," they are both "on the bubble," as well.

Running back

Locks: Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, Kyle Juszczyk, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert
Looking good: None
On the bubble: Jeff Wilson
Uphill climb: Matt Dayes

Overview: This position group looks set. Juszczyk joins a speedy backfield that includes McKinnon, Coleman and Breida. Mostert is the 49ers’ best special-teams player – and one of the best in the NFL – so his spot in uniform on game days is virtually assured.

Wilson did a fine job after his promotion late last season from the practice squad. He will put himself into a position to step in, if there’s an injury, or land a job on another team.

Wide receiver

Locks: Dante Pettis, #Deebo Samuel, #Jalen Hurd
Looking good: Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne
On the bubble: Richie James, Jordan Matthews
Uphill climb: Max McCaffrey, *Malik Henry, * Shawn Poindexter

Overview: This is an interesting position group, as the 49ers invested second- and third-round picks on Samuel and Hurd.

If things go as planned, Samuel will join Pettis in the starting lineup. Hurd will ultimately factor into the offense in some evolving role, as Shanahan figures out the best way to his blend of unique skills, along with his 6-foot-4 ¾ frame.

Goodwin has extraordinary speed, and he should be placed into a role in which the 49ers are able to better use his ability to stretch the defense.

If healthy, Taylor could have a big season. His production in Year 2 took a hit after never fully bouncing back from offseason back surgery.

Bourne was the 49ers’ top wideout last year. Bourne, Matthews and James will have to scrap for their roles with the infusion of young talent.

Tight end

Locks: George Kittle
Looking good: #Kaden Smith, Garrett Celek
On the bubble: Ross Dwelley
Uphill climb: *Tyree Mayfield, Marcus Lucas

Overview: The 49ers set out to build better depth behind Kittle, who set the single-season NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end last season.

Smith fell to the sixth round because of his slow 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine. He figures to battle Celek for the job as the primary backup. Celek’s production dropped off last season, but he is a pro and will not go away easily. There should be stiff competition for the two spots on the depth chart behind Kittle.

[RELATED: The 49ers' draft signals challenges to these veterans to hold onto their jobs]

Offensive line

Locks: LT Joe Staley, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Weston Richburg, RG Mike Person, RT Mike McGlinchey
Looking good: Shon Coleman
On the bubble: Ben Garland, Erik Magnuson, Joshua Garnett, #Justin Skule
Uphill climb: Daniel Brunskill, Najee Toran, Christian DiLauro, *Ross Reynolds, *Brendan Moore

Overview: The starting spots appear locked in. The last piece fell into place when the 49ers re-signed Person to a three-year contract and guaranteed nearly $2.5 million to make it happen.

The competition appears to be for the backup jobs. Coleman will get competition from Skule, a sixth-round pick from Vanderbilt, for the swing tackle position.

Garland, Magnuson and Garnett will be tested to show versatility to play the spots on the interior to prove their value for one of the coveted roster spots.

Defensive line

Locks: DeForest Buckner, #Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford
Looking good: Solomon Thomas, Ronald Blair, D.J. Jones, Kentavius Street
On the bubble: Jullian Taylor, Sheldon Day
Uphill climb: Kapron Lewis-Moore, Cedric Thornton, Damontre Moore, Ryan Delaire, *Jamell Garcia-Williams, *Kevin Givens

Overview: After being the No. 3 overall pick in 2017, Thomas enters what could be an interesting year in his career. Is he a lock to make the roster? Perhaps. But there are definitely scenarios in which he is not part of this team when they break training camp to start the regular season.

Likewise, Blair appears likely to enter the season as the team’s third edge rusher. He is able to step in to give a breather to Bosa and Ford.

Jones appears to be on good footing to be the team’s nose tackle. Street is a talented player who sat out his rookie season after sustaining a torn ACL during a pre-draft workout a year ago. If he makes a full recovery and it shows on the field, Street should win a roster spot.

Linebacker

Locks: Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner
Looking good: David Mayo, #Dre Greenlaw, Elijah Lee, Mark Nzeocha, Malcolm Smith
On the bubble: Pita Taumoepenu
Uphill climb: *Azeez Al-Shaair

Overview: The 49ers can feel good about going into the season with the seven players listed in the top two categories.

Alexander – assuming he’s fully back from last year’s ACL tear -- and Warner will be the two inside linebackers. Warner played middle linebacker last season as a rookie. He is a good fit there. Alexander played the same position with Tampa Bay, but a move to weakside linebacker is a smooth transition.

Mayo is a special-teams ace. Nzeocha and Smith are expected to compete for the starting strongside position.

Greenlaw, a fifth-round pick, and Lee will vie for backup roles and core special-teams duty.

Cornerback

Locks: Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tarvarius Moore, K’Waun Williams
Looking good: Jason Verrett
On the bubble: Greg Mabin, Emmanuel Moseley, #Tim Harris
Uphill climb: None.

Overview: Verrett is the big wild-card in this group. If he is healthy, he is likely to be the starter. But with his history of injuries and the fact he is returning from a torn Achilles, there is no way of knowing if he still has what it takes until he gets on the field.

Sherman should be in better physical shape than a year ago, when he was returning from his own Achilles injury.

Verrett, Witherspoon and Moore will compete to start on the other side.

Harris, a sixth-round draft pick, is in the mix for a backup job, along with Mabin and Moseley, both of whom spent time on the 53-man roster last season.

Safety

Locks: Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert, Marcell Harris
Looking good: D.J. Reed
On the bubble: Antone Exum
Uphill climb: Tyree Robinson, *Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, *Cameron Glenn

Overview: The 49ers’ decision-makers felt good enough about this group that not a huge priority was placed on adding a safety in the draft.

In fact, no priority was placed on it. The 49ers added a couple of undrafted rookies but no draft picks to strengthen the safety group.

Ward is the key to the 49ers’ safety positions. The coaching staff likes him a lot. He is ultra-versatile and plays hard. His best position is free safety. However, Ward has been unable to remain healthy, as four of his five NFL seasons have ended with season-ending bone fractures.

Tartt, Colbert and Marcell Harris also comprise the group of safeties who are battling for those two starting jobs. The competitions are wide open.

Specialists

Locks: #P Mitch Wishnowsky
Looking good: K Robbie Gould, LS Colin Holba
On the bubble: LS Kyle Nelson
Uphill climb: K Jonathan Brown

Overview: Wishnowsky, a fourth-round draft pick, takes over for Bradley Pinion, who surprised some with his decision to leave the 49ers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

Gould is the 49ers’ franchise player. He remains unsigned and has requested a trade. The 49ers say they will not trade him. If they remain unwavering in that stance, Gould’s only options are to eventually report to the team or continue to sit out once the regular season begins. If he does that, he would forfeit $288,000 in weekly paychecks.

Holba appears to be in line to handle the long-snapping chores at least until Nelson returns from serving the final six games of a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

# – Draft pick
*-Undrafted rookie

Jimmy Garoppolo's struggles don't faze 49ers' Richard Sherman, NFL scouts

Jimmy Garoppolo's struggles don't faze 49ers' Richard Sherman, NFL scouts

“R-E-L-A-X.”

Aaron Rodgers famously spelled that out after the Green Bay Packers began struggling to start the 2014 season.

According to many around the NFL, critics need to take the same approach with 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

"I know he will be fine," 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman told Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman. "First game back after major injury with massive pressure in his face every pass snap. Not the ideal game to be back [from] first. Chubb made it that way."

Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb did wreak havoc on the 49ers first-team offense, blowing past veteran tackle Joe Staley and providing the pressure that forced Garoppolo into his first interception to Isaac Yiadom. Garoppolo finished 1-for-6 passing with a whopping zero yards, netting him a rare 0.0 QB rating.

However, it was also his first time back in live game action since Sept. 23, 2018, and the 49ers were already keeping two starting offensive linemen on the shelf for the team’s second preseason game.

Freeman also spoke with several scouts across the league about Garoppolo, and none had any concerns after the disastrous performance.

"I know he can do it," an NFC East scout told Freeman. "I've seen it."

Jimmy G did win all five of his starts after joining the 49ers in 2017, and threw for 1,560 yards and seven touchdowns. 

The problem with analyzing Garoppolo is he has such a limited sample size of both good and bad performances. In his three starts before the injury in 2018, Garoppolo was far from the franchise savior many had made him out to be, as his completion percentage was below 60 percent and he threw three interceptions.

[RELATED: 49ers' Kyle Shanahan confident Jimmy Garoppolo can block out negativity]

His record-setting contract (at the time) is another point of contention, as no QB had ever been paid nine figures with a track record of just seven wins as a starter.

Despite all the noise surrounding the 27-year-old’s return to the field, his teammates, coaches, and rival scouts have no qualms about Garoppolo. Maybe it’s time we all take the hint and give Jimmy G a full season before we rush to anoint him either a bust or a superstar worthy of the hundreds of millions of dollars the 49ers gave him.

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo has message for prep QB returning from ACL tear

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo has message for prep QB returning from ACL tear

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sees that idea as a mindset, as he continues to work his way back from an ACL tear he suffered last September.

Kannon Dote -- a senior QB at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton -- suffered a similar injury prior to his junior season.

“What’s up Kannon, this is Jimmy Garoppolo here with the 49ers. Just wanted to wish you luck, man,” Garoppolo said in a video, shot just outside the 49ers locker room. “I know you went through the same process as me with the ACL and everything."

Dote posted the video Friday just before he is set to make his return to the field in his team’s season opener at Antioch High School.

[RELATED: 49ers' Kyle Shanahan confident Jimmy Garoppolo can block out negativity]

What a moment for a high school kid, to have the guy who plays the same position on your local team hype you up as you come back from an injury. 

Hopefully, Jimmy G can have a little more success in his second time being back on the field, after a disastrous debut in Denver during Week 2 of the preseason.