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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

PFF projects Jimmy Garoppolo as a 49ers starter, Dee Ford as a player to watch

Jul 19, 2021 at 7:40 AM--

Jimmy Garoppolo is slated to be the Week 1 starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers when they travel to Detroit to play the Lions. However, some wonder how quickly rookie Trey Lance will get up to speed and if the No. 3 overall pick could show enough in training camp to create a difficult decision for head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus projected the starting lineups for all 32 NFL teams, and one of the biggest 49ers-related takeaways is that he has Garoppolo firmly situated as the team's starter, despite the analytics site stating in the past that it holds Lance in high regard and believes he will find NFL success. Lance is still a rookie and will likely require time to prove he is ready to take over Shanahan's offense.

Garoppolo will have to stay healthy to hold onto the starting job, though. He has succeeded in escaping September injury-free just once (2019) as a starter in his NFL career. The quarterback was sidelined for 10 games last season and has missed 23 games over the past three. Failure to stay on the football field could allow Lance to overtake Garoppolo on the depth chart.

One player not listed as a starter but who Linsey feels could be a factor for San Francisco during the upcoming season is veteran pass rusher Dee Ford, who was limited to just one game last season due to injuries — a theme during his 49ers tenure.

San Francisco traded for Ford in 2019, hoping to complement then-future draft pick Nick Bosa. Unfortunately, while Ford has proven to be a factor on the football field when healthy, those opportunities have been far fewer than the team envisioned.

"Ford has played a total of 368 defensive snaps since that trade, missing much of the past two seasons with injury," wrote Linsey. "... Ford was effective when on the field in 2019, ending the regular season with a 15.3% pressure rate (second on team) on 163 pass-rushing snaps."

Ford has been rehabbing this offseason, and the 49ers remain hopeful that the veteran could be available to them in 2021. The defender didn't participate in organized team activities but could see at least some work in training camp.

"We knew we weren't going to put him through OTAs because we don't want his back to act up," Shanahan said in June. "So I'm just keeping my fingers crossed, and I'm hoping he can come ready to go in training camp, and hopefully, he can help us out this year."

Below is Linsey's projected starting lineup for San Francisco with 12 players on each side of the ball, allowing for an extra for certain situations where a player might serve as a replacement for another. In the 49ers' case, that is an extra receiver on offense and an extra cornerback on defense.

Offense Defense
QB Jimmy Garoppolo DI Javon Kinlaw
RB Raheem Mostert DI D.J. Jones
FB Kyle Juszczyk ED Nick Bosa
TE George Kittle ED Arik Armstead
WR Brandon Aiyuk LB Fred Warner
WR Deebo Samuel LB Dre Greenlaw
WR Mohamed Sanu LB Azeez Al-Shaair
LT Trent Williams CB Jason Verrett
LG Laken Tomlinson CB Emmanuel Moseley
C Alex Mack CB K'Waun Williams
RG Aaron Banks S Jimmie Ward
RT Mike McGlinchey S Jaquiski Tartt

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