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:
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.
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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.
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.