49ers

How 49ers' starting lineups look after first wave of free-agent signings

How 49ers' starting lineups look after first wave of free-agent signings

Through the first wave of the free-agent signing period, the 49ers have added some starters and others who will unquestionably compete for starting jobs.

Short of a blockbuster trade, it is doubtful the 49ers will add anyone to be inserted into the mix for a starting job between now and April 25 – the first day of the NFL draft.

Here is a look at the most likely 49ers starting lineups for the 2019 season:

Offensive starters

QB: Jimmy Garoppolo
RB: Jerick McKinnon/Tevin Coleman
FB: Kyle Juszczyk
WR (X): Dante Pettis/Marquise Goodwin
WR (Z): Kendrick Bourne/Jordan Matthews
Slot: Trent Taylor/Richie James
TE: George Kittle
LT: Joe Staley
LG: Laken Tomlinson
C: Weston Richburg
RG: Mike Person
RT: Mike McGlinchey

Garoppolo and McKinnon are on schedule to be cleared for full work at the beginning of training camp – if not long before then. The 49ers are likely to dial back the workloads of both players during organized team activities as a precaution with both men returning from ACL injuries.

The backup QB job -- C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens? -- will be worth watching.

Coach Kyle Shanahan loves the idea of having four explosive running backs on his roster. History has shown that depth will at some point come into play at running back. McKinnon and Coleman are the front-runners to share the load. Raheem Mostert will be active as the No. 3 running back for his superlative special-teams contributions. Matt Breida has a chance to crack the top-two, but he can also be a valuable reserve because of the difficulty of keeping running backs healthy.

The 49ers could use the No. 36 overall draft pick on a wide receiver to compete – along with Goodwin, Bourne and Matthews – for one of the main roles. Shanahan figures to mix and match receivers week to week, as well as through the course of games to take advantage of matchups.

The 49ers re-signed Person, giving him a guaranteed $3 million, which sends the signal they expect him to be a starter. Joshua Garnett, entering the final year of his contract, has an outside chance of playing himself into a prominent role. Shon Coleman, whom the 49ers acquired last year in a trade with Cleveland, is slotted to be the swing tackle to serve as the backup to both Staley and McGlinchey.

Defensive starters (base)

DE: Arik Armstead/Solomon Thomas
NT: D.J. Jones
DT: DeForest Buckner
DE: Dee Ford
SLB: Malcolm Smith/Mark Nzeocha
MLB: Fred Warner
WLB: Kwon Alexander
LCB: Richard Sherman
RCB: Jason Verrett/Ahkello Witherspoon/Tarvarius Moore
FS: Jimmie Ward
SS: Jaquiski Tartt/Marcell Harris

Thomas was the 49ers’ starter at the pass-rush defensive end spot. That job now belongs to Ford, whom the 49ers acquired in a trade with Kansas City. The 49ers still consider Thomas best-suited to play defensive end on base downs. Armstead seemed to find his niche in a similar role. He also has the ability to play some nose tackle.

Strong-side linebacker is unsettled. The 49ers may have the option of investing the No. 2 overall pick in Kentucky outside linebacker/edge rusher Josh Allen, who proved his versatility in college. He is equally adept at dropping into coverage as he is rushing the passer. The inside positions are interchangeable. The 49ers have not determined the specific positions for Warner and Alexander.

Right cornerback is wide open. Verrett has to remain healthy in order to put himself into a position to win the job. The 49ers invested third-round picks the past two years in Witherspoon and Moore, so the door is open for either of them to seize the job.

If Ward can remain healthy, he’s starter at free safety. Adrian Colbert gives the club a good option as a backup. Harris came on strong last year and will be given an opportunity to compete with Tartt.

Defensive starters (nickel)

DE: Ronald Blair
DT: Arik Armstead/Solomon Thomas
DT: DeForest Buckner
DE: Dee Ford
MLB: Fred Warner
WLB: Kwon Alexander
Nickel: K’Waun Williams

The 49ers released edge rusher Cassius Marsh last week. Blair saw more action rushing the passer from the outside than anyone other than Marsh. They tied for second on the team, behind Buckner's 12 sacks, with 5.5 sacks apiece.

The 49ers could select Nick Bosa or Allen with the No. 2 overall pick. If that occurs, whichever player they choose would line up on the edge to rush the passer in nickel situations. Armstead and Thomas will be part of a rotation on the inside, as well affording Buckner the opportunity to catch his breath from time to time.

Williams appears set as the nickel back, but at some point D.J. Reed may be ready to take over.

Special teams

K: Robbie Gould
P: ___________
LS: Colin Holba/Kyle Nelson
KR: Richie James/D.J. Reed
PR: Dante Pettis/Trent Taylor

The 49ers do not have a punter on the roster after Bradley Pinion signed a four-year, $11 million free-agent contract last week with Tampa Bay.

Gould was tagged as the 49ers’ franchise player. He has not signed his tender, and there’s no indication whether he plans to show up for the team’s offseason program. There’s little concern, however, that he will be ready to go once the season begins.

[RELATED: 49ers signed two starting defensive players ... if things go as hoped]

Holba begins the season as the long-snapper. Nelson is slated to regain his spot upon his return after Week 6 from a suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo could be 'next Mahomes,' AFC executive says

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AP

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo could be 'next Mahomes,' AFC executive says

When John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan traded for Jimmy Garoppolo 18 months ago, he was the darling of the NFL. Much was expected of the quarterback when he came to Santa Clara, and he delivered by leading the 49ers to a 5-0 record to finish the 2017 season.

But a torn ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 season put Jimmy G on the backburner.

That allowed second-year Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to step up and take the league by storm. The former first-round draft pick led Kansas City to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and took them to the AFC Championship game, where they lost to the New England Patriots, and he later was voted 2018 NFL MVP.

So, who could be the next player to have a breakout season like Mahomes?

Apparently, it's Garoppolo.

"He's got the best chance to be the next Mahomes," an unnamed AFC team executive recently told Bleacher Report.

[RELATED: Garoppolo raves over player performance staff]

Garoppolo is nearing the end of his rehab process, and Shanahan expects the 27-year-old quarterback to be ready for training camp in July.

The 49ers had high hopes for the 2018 season, and Garoppolo's ACL injury caused those hopes to come crashing down. Now, with a revamped defense and more help coming through the draft, expectations again are high in Santa Clara. A big season from Garoppolo would go a long way to helping the 49ers achieve their goal of making a deep playoff run.

NFL draft: Who should 49ers target or avoid if they trade back from No. 2?

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USATSI

NFL draft: Who should 49ers target or avoid if they trade back from No. 2?

So what happens if the Arizona Cardinals select Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa with the No. 1 overall pick?

Until the Cardinals actually announce their decision – as most have believed for a while – that Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is their man, there remains a bit of intrigue. The 49ers must wait patiently at No. 2.

If Bosa goes No. 1, the 49ers would likely listen to offers to trade out of No. 2. That’s where things could get very interesting. And it opens up a lot more possibilities for the 49ers to consider with their first- and second-round draft picks.

Here are a couple of players the 49ers could consider if they trade back from No. 2 – either with their first or second-round selection -- and a couple of highly rated players they should not be tempted to select:

Boom?

In a trade-back scenario, the 49ers could still get their edge rusher.

Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns has size, athleticism and room to get better. Just a shade below the first wave of edge rushers, Burns might end up topping them all. He played three seasons in college and finished with 10 sacks in 12 games last season before declaring for the draft.

At 6-foot-5, 249 pounds and with 4.53 speed, Burns would be used immediately as a nickel pass-rush specialist. That is fine. That is what the 49ers need, and eventually that role can expand.

Bust?

Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary should have been a dominant player in college. He was not. He has measurables off the charts, but not the production that should go along with it.

His skills and athleticism are freakish. But after three seasons of college football, he recorded a total – a total – of just 9.5 sacks. And, now, we’re supposed to believe that he is going to get 9.5 sacks a season while going up against better competition?

Gary has started his own sports agency. It seems like the best plan of attack would be to get established as a really good NFL player before devoting so much attention to marketing.

Boom?

Their new wide receivers coach was not there to work with him at the Senior Bowl, but South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel already showed what he can do in the 49ers’ offense.

Samuel has a trait that coach Kyle Shanahan likes in his wide receivers – the ability to get open. He is a very good route-runner, and he is tough. At 5-foot-11, 214 pounds, he might not have the size of some of the other receivers the 49ers might consider in the second round, but he has the ability to separate quickly.

Samuel would give the 49ers a nice tool in the red zone, where the club has struggled mightily the past two seasons.

[RELATED:  Jimmy G couldn't disappoint 49ers with eyes on him during rehab]

Bust?

The 49ers probably will not have the opportunity to pass on Ole Miss D.K. Metcalf in the second round, and that will be just fine for them.

Metcalf has otherworldly measurables. But Metcalf was far-and-away the second-best receiver on his college team. The 49ers should prefer A.J. Brown to Metcalf, who turned off more than a few people with the 49ers during their contentious meeting at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Metcalf is 6-3, 228 pounds. He ran a 4.33 at the combine. Yet, he put up pedestrian numbers in college – approximately half the production of Brown. Some team will take him in the middle of the first round, and that team will probably end up being disappointed.