Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports


A post-draft look at the state of the San Francisco 49ers roster

May 1, 2022 at 2:00 PM--


The 2022 NFL Draft is in the books for the San Francisco 49ers. Their roster is deeper and more complete than it was before the draft started... but it's also one that comes with a few notable questions.

Let's take a detailed look at where the roster stands as of May 1. There's much that may change before training camp arrives, and some questions may not be answered until the end of the preseason. But the 49ers also head towards the 2022 season with a roster that is full of talent and is largely in good shape, with plenty of competition at most spots.

Quarterback


Safe bet to make the 53-man roster: Trey Lance, Nate Sudfeld
Will have to win a spot: Brock Purdy
Who the hell knows: Jimmy Garoppolo

So what happens with Jimmy Garoppolo? It's tough to say for sure at this point. Maybe a trade destination will open up for him before the start of the season, but that's not a given. And if one does open up, would it be with a team the 49ers would want to help? It wouldn't be a surprise anymore if he's still on the roster in Week 1. That's not what he or the 49ers had in mind heading into this offseason, but it also wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. The 49ers would have great depth at QB (albeit very expensive depth), and Garoppolo isn't the type to cause drama if he has to sit, even though it certainly wouldn't be his preference. Sudfeld feels like a safe bet after getting $2 million guaranteed on his new deal, but who knows -- teams have eaten much more than that in the past. Seventh-round pick Brock Purdy could wind up being a practice squad inclusion unless he shows well enough in the preseason to make the 49ers afraid of losing him on waivers.

Early prediction: Garoppolo lands elsewhere before the start of the season and the 49ers open Week 1 with Lance and Sudfeld as their two quarterbacks with Purdy on the practice squad.

Running back/Fullback


Safe bets to make the 53-man roster: Elijah Mitchell, Kyle Juszczyk, Jeff Wilson, Tyrion Davis-Price
Competing for a spot: Trey Sermon, JaMycal Hasty
Will need an injury/unforeseen circumstance to Juszczyk to make the 53-man roster: Josh Hokit
Reported undrafted free agent signing: Cyrus Habibi-Likio, Boise State

The third-round selection of Tyrion Davis-Price most likely means one of the running backs who were on the roster last season will be shown the door. The immediate reaction by many was that the addition of Davis-Price might be bad news for Trey Sermon, but it would come as no surprise if Sermon took a step forward and JaMychal Hasty was left as the odd man out. Meanwhile, the vibe surrounding Davis-Price is that maybe the 49ers hope he'll be able to give them the type of presence they got from Deebo Samuel last season, which means they'll feel the need to use Samuel less as a running back (if at all).

Early Prediction: Sermon wins a spot to go with Mitchell, Wilson, Davis-Price, and Juszczyk.

Wide receiver


Safe bets to make the 53-man roster: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud (WR/return specialist), Danny Gray
Competing for a spot: KeeSean Johnson, Malik Turner, Austin Mack, Marcus Johnson, Connor Wedington
Reported undrafted free agent signings: Taysir Mack, Pittsburgh; Tay Martin, Oklahoma State

The previous comment gives away our feelings on Samuel, which is that all the drama will eventually blow over and he'll get a new deal that makes him happy (but we wouldn't bet the house on that either). Assuming that's the case, the five players listed here feel like safe bets to make the 53-man roster, while the 49ers will have an interesting decision on whether to keep a sixth at this position. There are a number of intriguing candidates capable of winning a spot in the preseason, but it's also easy to envision the 49ers going with five here. The roles seem mostly set.

Early prediction: The 49ers start the season with the five "safe" receivers on the roster.

Tight end


Safe bet to make the 53-man roster: George Kittle
Favorites to win a spot: Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner
Competing for a spot: Tanner Hudson, Jordan Matthews
Reported undrafted free agent signing: Garrett Walston, North Carolina

The 49ers continued their trend of passing on drafting an offensive threat at tight end to go with George Kittle. That means we'll likely see three veterans on the roster once again, with the favorites being the three who held down the spots last season. Maybe Matthews can take a step forward in his transition to tight end and win a spot. We shall see.

Early prediction: Kittle, Dwelley and Woerner run it back one more time.

Offensive line


Safe bets to make the 53-man roster: Trent Williams, Mike McGlinchey, Jaylon Moore, Aaron Banks, Spencer Burford
Favorites to win a spot: Daniel Brunskill, Jake Brendel, Nick Zakelj, Justin Skule, Colton McKivitz
Competing for a spot: Alfredo Gutierrez, Keaton Sutherland
Reported undrafted free agent signings: Jason Poe, Mercer; Sam Schluerter, Minnesota; Dohnovan West, Arizona State
Might be riding off into sunset: Alex Mack

It's anyone's guess how this turns out. Maybe Alex Mack will return for another season, but that doesn't feel like the vibe at the moment. That means the 49ers have two starters locked in with Williams and McGlinchey, while the rest isn't etched in stone at all. Moore and Banks are the favorites to fill the starting guard spots, but it isn't out of the question that someone else could jump up and beat them out. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch talked up Jake Brendel as a candidate for the center spot if Mack retires, but it'll certainly be a spot that will be up for grabs if it opens up. Lynch said the 49ers are viewing Burford and Zakelj as inside players, but with heavy experience at the tackle position for both of them, perhaps the 49ers could eventually decide to focus one or both as a swing tackle. Right now, Skule and McKivitz could be the favorites there.

This will certainly be a position to keep a close eye on once training camp begins. It's also a position where there might be an opening for an undrafted player to rise up and win a spot. West and Poe could be candidates to watch at center.

Early prediction: The top five as well as Brunskill, McKivitz, Skule, and Brendel make the cut. Zakelj could wind up on the bubble and may wind up on the practice squad, where he can spend time developing into a guard. All this could change if the 49ers add a veteran or two at center, which wouldn't be a surprise.

Defensive line


Safe bets to make the roster: Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Drake Jackson
Favorites to win a spot: Samson Ebukam, Kevin Givens, Maurice Hurst, Hassan Ridgeway, Jordan Willis, Kerry Hyder
Competing for a spot: Charles Omenihu, Kemoko Turay, Alex Barrett, Chris Slayton
Currently on the roster but not expected to play: Dee Ford
PUP: Kalia Davis
Reported undrafted free agent signing: DT Kevin Atkins, Fresno State

As was the case in 2021, the defensive line is deep and talented -- so much so that the 49ers likely won't find room for all the players they'd like to keep. The addition of second-round pick Drake Jackson will lead to a stiff competition for depth spots at defensive end. Turay, Omenihu, Hyder, Ebukam, and Willis may all be on NFL rosters in 2022, but not all of them may be in San Francisco. Ebukam is obviously a favorite to stay, but the 49ers would also save a good chunk of cap space ($6.5 million) if they decided to move on. Hyder may also be a good bet to stay given the success he's had in the past under line coach Kris Kocurek and how good he was with the 49ers in 2020. Willis was certainly trending upward at the end of the 2021 season.

On the inside, the 49ers obviously like Hurst but it's hard to know what he'll bring after missing much of the 2021 season due to injury. Givens is back on a one-year deal and is a good bet to stick around. Ridgeway was added on a one-year deal in free agency and may have to solidify his spot in the preseason.

There's a few different combinations the 49ers could go with on the defensive line depending on who stands out in the preseason. If Garoppolo winds up on the roster, this or offensive line could be a position where the 49ers look to clear up the spot. Lynch made it sound like sixth-round pick Kalia Davis was likely heading for a place on the PUP list to open the season as he continues to heal from a torn ACL.

Early prediction: The top ten listed above make the cut.

Linebacker


Safe bets to make the 53-man roster: Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Oren Burks
Competing for a spot: Curtis Robinson
Reported undrafted free agent signings: Jeremiah Gemmel, North Carolina; Segun Olubi, San Diego State

Pretty cut and dried here. The 49ers replaced Marcell Harris with Burks in free agency, and other than it doesn't seem like there will be much else to challenge the status quo. One of the UDFAs emerging wouldn't be completely out of the question, but this is one of the easiest positions to project right now.

Early prediction: Warner, Greenlaw, Al-Shaair, Flannigan-Fowles, Burks

Cornerback


Safe bets to make the 53-man roster: Charvarius Ward, Emmanuel Moseley, Ambry Thomas
Favorites to make the roster: Tariq Castro-Fields, Deommodore Lenoir, Samuel Womack, Dontae Johnson
Competing for a spot: Darqueze Dennard, Ka'Dar Hollman
Reported undrafted free agent signing: CB/S Tayler Hawkins, San Diego State

The top three feel set, while the draft additions of Castro-Fields and Womack mean the 49ers will have a preseason battle between youth and experience for their final spots at this position. The 49ers love Dontae Johnson and liked what they saw from Dennard after adding him late in the 2021 season, but might they decide to go youth-heavy at first while assuming they can add either of those two players at a later point if need be? Should be interesting. The nickel spot will be one to watch after the free agency departure of K'Waun Williams. Lenoir and the fifth-round pick Womack could be among those to battle there. Sixth-round pick Tariq Castro-Fields is a versatile addition who could help in a number of ways.

Early prediction: 49ers go mostly young with Ward, Moseley, Thomas, and Castro-Fields while keeping one out of Lenoir and Womack, then keep Johnson as number six. But it wouldn't be a surprise to see them find a way to keep all their youth on the roster.

Safety


Safe bets to make the 53-man roster: Jimmie Ward, Talanoa Hufanga, George Odum, Tarvarius Moore
Reported undrafted free agent signing: Leon O'Neal, Texas A&M

Maybe an undrafted rookie steps forward here, or maybe the 49ers will wind up adding a veteran down the road to increase competition. But after deciding not to bring in a safety in the draft, Lynch made it sound like the team was set with Ward, Hufanga, Odum, and Moore going forward. Still, this position feels like a candidate for more competition to be brought in at some point. Hopefully Moore will be able to bounce all the way back from the torn Achilles that wiped out his 2021 season.

Early prediction: Ward, Hufanga, Odum, Moore.

Specialists


Safe bets to make the 53-man roster: P Mitch Wishnowsky, K Robbie Gould, LS Taybor Pepper

We won't waste time trying to come up with something boring to write about three guys who won't have any roster competition. There usually isn't any suspense in this area and there won't be this year either.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.



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