Whether it be George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel or Raheem Mostert, the 49ers have plenty of weapons on offense for either Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance.
An area of concern though is the depth behind certain position groups that might seem set on the surface -- specifically at wide receiver.
Behind Samuel and Aiyuk, who is the 49ers' third-best receiver? Ever since Kendrick Bourne left for New England in the offseason, the third receiver spot has been up for grabs.
Two roster-hopefuls -- Jauan Jennings and Trent Sherfield -- made their case as to why they should have a role in the offense this season during the preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday at Levi's Stadium.
Both made big plays, but it was Sherfield (1 rec, 80 yds, 1 TD) who stole the spotlight from Jennings (49 all-purpose yds) by catching Lance's deep touchdown pass in the first quarter.
Sherfield, the fourth-year receiver who previously spent time with the Arizona Cardinals, was acquired by the 49ers with a special teams role in mind. An eye-opening OTAs was followed by an even more impressive training camp, and coach Kyle Shanahan certainly likes what he has seen so far.
“We were hoping that he could (play wide receiver), but we just couldn’t study him a ton on it, there wasn’t a ton of tape on him," Shanahan said after the game Saturday. "We liked the way that he was wired, how he can run, and how physical he played on special teams. Getting him here in OTA’s we saw the receiver ability, he’s done that throughout OTA’s, he’s done it through training camp, and I think it showed out there today.”
In 44 games played, Sherfield has a combined 28 receptions for 340 yards (12.1 Y/R) and a touchdown. Jennings on the other hand has zero NFL game experience.
Selected by the 49ers in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Jennings was cut prior to Week 1 of last year but eventually returned to the team. Finally showing what he can do on the field, Shanahan is looking forward to the second-year receiver making up for lost time.
“Jauan, we’re hoping can come on strong here," Shanahan said. "He got a late start being out with COVID and everything. He had a good screen today, he caught a good seam over the middle. You guys can see his hands and how aggressive he is after he catches the ball. But he got a lot of playing time. We wanted to do that so it would be good for us to evaluate him.”
Right now it seems as if veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu would be first in line for the WR3 role, but if the 49ers opt to carry six receivers on their initial 53-man roster as they did last year, both Sherfield and Jennings have a chance to make the squad.