Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Unprecedented NFL season could provide opportunities for lesser-known 49ers players

Jul 22, 2020 at 10:59 AM--

Matt Barrows of The Athletic wrote a detailed feature sharing several examples of how the San Francisco 49ers are well-equipped to handle the unprecedented season ahead. It's a season that has already presented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will likely offer up many more, which haven't yet been considered.

One of the themes throughout the article is how uncertainty may create opportunities for some of the 49ers' lesser-known players who, otherwise, might not make the roster or practice squad—names like Josh Hokit, the fullback from Fresno State. San Francisco might typically consider carrying two fullbacks (even if one is on the practice squad) a luxury.

This season will be anything but typical, assuming there is a season.

What if starter Kyle Juszczyk has to miss time due to either illness or injury? The fullback missed four games last season due to an MCL sprain. That's why stashing someone like Hokit might be an advantage. Practice squads, which were already set to increase from 10 to 12 players this year, may consist of 16 thanks to the pandemic.

Barrows also notes the safety position, where depth may be an area of concern after D.J. Reed suffered a torn pectoral muscle.

"The situation might compel the 49ers to hang onto someone like little-known Derrick Kindred, who has experience at both safety spots," writes Barrows. "In the season of coronavirus, it seems as if versatility will be the key trait among those chosen for the last few spots on the active roster."

Regardless of how the final active and practice squad rosters look, the 49ers may be forced to cut ties with 10 players right out of the gate. That's because the NFL has proposed teams begin training camps with 80-man rosters, and it doesn't sound like there is much opposition from the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), which knows that the reduced number will contribute to player safety.

Yes, in the short-term, lesser-known players may find themselves out the door. They could, however, be brought back and find roles as teams prepare contingency plans for any possibility.

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