49ers

49ers roster reset: How depth chart looks after offseason developments

49ers roster reset: How depth chart looks after offseason developments

Three veterans at important positions who were integral to the 49ers’ run to the Super Bowl last season will not be back on the 2020 team.

San Francisco this offseason traded away defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, then lost wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and left tackle Joe Staley to retirement.

But the club responded during the NFL draft with the selections of defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk in the first round, and completed a trade Saturday morning to acquire veteran left tackle Trent Williams from Washington.

The 49ers' roster essentially is set.

Here is how it breaks down after a draft that brought Kinlaw, Aiyuk, offensive lineman Colton McKivitz, tight end Charlie Woerner and wide receiver Jauan Jennings to the organization:

Offense

Quarterback: Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard

The 49ers kept three quarterbacks on their roster last season because they felt all three were NFL-caliber players and they did not want to get rid of a valuable commodity. While general manager John Lynch will be open to trading one of the backups, he is not going to just give away one of those players. Mullens and Beathard are on the final year of their contracts. Mullens is scheduled to be a restricted free agent next year, while Beathard will be unrestricted.

Also under contract: Broc Rutter (UDFA).

Running back: Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson
Third-down RB: Jerick McKinnon

The 49ers traded away Matt Breida on Saturday in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick from the Miami Dolphins, which they used to select McKivitz. Coleman and Mostert are likely to share the load on base downs. If McKinnon returns close to the form that convinced the 49ers to target him as a free agent in 2018, he will be a huge addition for his ability to catch passes out of the backfield on third downs.

Also under contract: Salvon Ahmed (UDFA), JaMycal Hasty (UDFA).

Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk

Juszczyk is an invaluable part of the 49ers’ offense due to his athleticism and smarts. His unique skills enable him to execute his complex blocking assignments. He is also capable of taking advantage of mismatches in the passing game to make plays down the field. The team has not kept a backup fullback on the 53-man roster since Juszczyk has been with the team.

Also under contract: Josh Hokit (UDFA).

Wide receiver: Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Taylor, Richie James, Dante Pettis, Jalen Hurd, Travis Benjamin, Jauan Jennings

Samuel and Bourne are the only returners who played any kind of role on offense for the team last season. But the 49ers expect big things from Taylor, a slot receiver, and Hurd, whom Lynch said is back to working out and is on pace to make an impact this season. Shanahan expects to use Hurd in a variety of different roles and positions. The competition for the final roster spots should be very competitive and could be decided by contributions on special teams.

Also under contract: Shawn Poindexter, Chris Thompson, Chris Finke (UDFA).

Tight end: George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner, Daniel Helm

After Levine Toilolo signed with the New York Giants as a free agent, the 49ers waited until the draft to find his replacement. They selected Woerner, a blocking specialist, in the sixth round of the draft. Kittle and Woerner could be a good combination when the 49ers go to their two-tight end power-run game formation.

Also under contract: Chase Harrell (UDFA).

Left tackle: Trent Williams, Justin Skule, Shon Coleman

Before most of the NFL world even knew the 49ers had a need at left tackle, they filled it with the trade to acquire Williams from Washington for a fifth-round pick this year and a third-round pick in the 2021 draft. Behind Williams are Skule and Coleman. They will compete for a job as the 49ers’ swing tackle.

Left guard: Laken Tomlinson

The 49ers feel good about Tomlinson’s role in the offense after he put together his best NFL season a year ago.

Center: Weston Richburg, Ben Garland

Richburg sustained two serious injuries in each of his two seasons with the 49ers. He missed the last month of the regular season and all of the postseason with a torn patellar tendon. He is on pace to be ready for the regular season, just as he was a year ago when he underwent extensive knee and quad surgery. Garland filled in admirably in Richburg’s absence last season.

Right guard: Daniel Brunskill, Tom Compton, Colton McKivitz

Brunskill is the favorite to win the starting job, though the 49ers signed Compton as a free agent and selected McKivitz in the fifth round of the draft. Whomever does not win the starting job will be expected to serve as a backup to Tomlinson, too. McKivitz has the versatility to play guard or tackle.

Right tackle: Mike McGlinchey, Justin Skule, Shon Coleman

McGlinchey finished the season strong and figures to be a starter for the team for a long, long time. Skule and Coleman will compete to be the swing tackle. Even with gameday rosters going from 46 to 48 players, it’s likely only one will be in uniform.

Also under contract: Kofi Amichia, Jake Brendel, Jaryd Jones-Smith, Ross Reynolds, Leonard Wester.

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

Defense

Left defensive end (base): Arik Armstead, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas, Kerry Hyder
Nose tackle (base): D.J. Jones, Jullian Taylor
Defensive tackle (base): Javon Kinlaw, Kentavius Street, Kevin Givens
Right defensive end (base): Nick Bosa, Ronald Blair

Left edge (nickel): Dee Ford, Kerry Hyder
Interior rusher (nickel): Arik Armstead, D.J. Jones, Jullian Taylor
Interior rusher (nickel): Solomon Thomas, Javon Kinlaw, Kentavius Street, Kevin Givens
Right edge (nickel): Nick Bosa, Ronald Blair, Kerry Hyder

The 49ers will use a number of different players as they hope to compensate for the number of snaps and level of production Buckner gave to the team.

San Francisco has a lot of versatility along the defensive front. The 49ers seemed to find something that worked last season with Armstead and Thomas playing defensive end on base downs, then moving inside in nickel situations. It remains to be seen how early in his career Kinlaw can become effective as a three-down player. Ford will play a lot on base downs, but they must keep him fresh so that he can dominate at what he does best -- getting after the quarterback.

Also under contract: Alex Barrett, Willie Henry Jr., Jonathan Kongbo, Ray Smith, Darrion Daniels (UDFA), Chase Harrell (UDFA).

Weakside linebacker: Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair
Middle linebacker: Fred Warner, Joe Walker
Strongside linebacker: Kwon Alexander, Mark Nzeocha

Warner returns as the starter at middle linebacker. Alexander and Greenlaw will be the other two starters, but at which positions?

Greenlaw stepped into the weakside spot after Alexander’s injury, and he remained in that every-down role even after Alexander returned to action in the postseason. Although they are all considered “stack linebackers,” the decision is a big one. The weakside linebacker stays on the field for every snap. The strongside linebacker leaves the game in nickel situations.

Also under contract: Joey Alfieri, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Jonas Griffith (UDFA).

Left cornerback: Richard Sherman, D.J. Reed, Dontae Johnson, Tim Harris
Right cornerback: Emmanuel Moseley, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett
Nickel back: K’Waun Williams, D.J. Reed

Interestingly, for the second offseason in a row, the 49ers did not go outside the organization for help in the defensive backfield. Sherman, who enters the final year of his contract, has things locked down on the left side. Moseley is the strong favorite to win the starting job on the right side. Witherspoon and Verrett also have chances to win the job, if Moseley should struggle. Verrett was re-signed to a one-year contract after missing most of last season with a knee injury.

Also under contract: CB Teez Tabor, CB Jermaine Kelly, DeMarkus Acy (UDFA), Jared Mayden (UDFA).

Free safety: Jimmie Ward, Tarvarius Moore
Strong safety: Jaquiski Tartt, Marcell Harris

Shortly after the season, Ward posted his thoughts on social media that if the 49ers were not going to re-sign him, they already had his replacement on the roster. He said Moore should be the starter. But it never got that far, as the 49ers re-signed Ward to a three-year, $28.5 million contract. The team’s group of safeties returns intact.

Also under contract: Chris Edwards, Derrick Kindred.

[RELATED: Tracking 49ers' undrafted free agent contract signings]

Special teams

Kicker: Robbie Gould
Punter: Mitch Wishnowsky
Long-snapper: Kyle Nelson
Kick returner: Richie James, D.J. Reed, Brandon Aiyuk
Punt returner: Richie James, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor, Brandon Aiyuk

Gould, Wishnowsky and Nelson are back, unchallenged in their roles. The return duties are open for competition. The 49ers want Pettis to assert himself and make a push for the punt-return job that James held last season, but Pettis has to make the team. James provided consistency last season, ranking fifth in the NFL with 264 punt-return yards. Taylor should be back to compete. Aiyuk and Benjamin could also be options.

Kyle Shanahan sees Jordan Reed as big 49ers contributor, if healthy

Kyle Shanahan sees Jordan Reed as big 49ers contributor, if healthy

Veteran tight end Jordan Reed seemingly is taking a huge risk with designs on a return to football after sustaining a seventh documented concussion a year ago.

But it is a risk that could pay off big for Reed and the 49ers this season, his first NFL coach said on Monday.

Kyle Shanahan was in his final season as Washington’s offensive coordinator during Reed’s first season after entering the league as a second-round draft pick. Now, Shanahan and Reed are back together after Reed agreed to a one-year contract on Monday.

“I know he hasn’t been on the field for a little bit. I know he’s very hungry to get back out there,” Shanahan said.

“When you have a talented guy who’s hungry to play football, it works out if they can stay healthy. And Jordan has had some bad luck over the years. I know he’s ready to go. I hope he has some good luck here. And if he does, I think it’s going to be a hell of a deal for the Niners and a really good deal for him, also.”

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

Reed, 30, has appeared in just 65 games over the past seven seasons with Washington. He has 329 career receptions for 3,371 yards and 24 touchdowns. His best season came in 2015, when he saw action in 14 games and caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns.

He did not play last season after sustaining a concussion in a preseason game. The Washington Football Team released him in February.

“Everyone is aware of Jordan’s ability,” Shanahan said. “When he’s been healthy, he’s played at an extremely high level. And he’s been one of the first third-down tight ends in the league when he’s been healthy.”

[RELATEDShanahan optimistic 49ers, Kittle will get contract done]

Shanahan said he typically likes to bring six tight ends to training camp. It was a little more difficult this summer because teams have to trim to 80 players instead of the usual 90-man limits. But the 49ers found a way to add Reed, who figures to join a competition to become George Kittle’s backup.

Reed will compete with Ross Dwelley, Daniel Helm and sixth-round draft pick Charlie Woerner for the backup job.

“It's well-documented that he’s had multiple concussions prior,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “So in situations like this, there’s a reason that a guy like Jordan Reed is out there, right? There is some risk-reward. We got to a point where we felt the risk that we’re taking on was worth it with the potential reward.”

Trent Williams thrilled 49ers signed former teammate Jordan Reed

Trent Williams thrilled 49ers signed former teammate Jordan Reed

Trent Williams isn't the only former Washington Football Team player joining the 49ers this offseason.

San Francisco signed free agent tight end Jordan Reed to an incentive-laden one-year contract on Monday, hoping to put a steady backup behind All-Pro George Kittle. Formerly a third-round draft pick by Washington in 2013, Reed was a teammate of Williams in the nation's capital for each of the past six seasons. Williams expressed his excitement for Reed on his Instagram story Monday afternoon.

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

A Pro Bowl selection in 2016, Reed missed all of the 2019 season after getting a concussion in the third preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. Like Williams, Reed finished the 2019 season on injured reserve. Washington released Reed in February.

Reed could see his role increased significantly early on with the 49ers if Kittle's contract negotiations continue to stall, as general manager John Lynch didn't give much of an update Monday on the conversations.

[RELATED: 49ers rule D.J. Reed out for year after surgery on torn pec]

“We’re working diligently to come to a resolution,” Lynch told reporters over Zoom on Monday afternoon.

Reed's concerning history with concussions wasn't lost on Lynch, but the 49ers clearly see the upside in a tight end with four 50+ catch seasons out of his six healthy NFL seasons.

“It's well-documented that he’s had multiple concussions prior,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “So in situations like this, there’s a reason that a guy like Jordan Reed is out there, right? There is some risk-reward. We got to a point where we felt the risk that we’re taking on was worth it with the potential reward.”