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Gregg Rosenthal breaks down 49ers’ starters, identifies Ricky Pearsall’s role

May 26, 2024 at 12:14 PM

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Gregg Rosenthal recently assessed the NFC West, breaking down the starting lineups for each team. The San Francisco 49ers are widely considered to have one of the best rosters in the league, showcasing impressive talent on both sides of the ball. However, every roster has flaws. More important for the 49ers is how they respond to a gut-wrenching overtime Super Bowl defeat.

"After getting so close year after year, can the 49ers rev up the engine again? They have the offense to dominate," Rosenthal wrote.

On paper, the roster is stacked and should live up to its status as a Super Bowl contender. The 49ers remain a betting favorite to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of the upcoming season.

Rosenthal notes that much of the same starting offensive personnel is returning. It's essentially the same unit that led in several crucial metrics last season, and there's no reason to believe that will change in 2024.

The 49ers bolstered an already talented receiver group in the draft, adding Ricky Pearsall with the No. 31 overall pick. However, Rosenthal hesitates to automatically insert the rookie into the WR3 spot.

"The 49ers drafted him high for a reason, but Jauan Jennings is too good in his role to summarily displace," Rosenthal explained. "Pearsall feels more like a potential injury replacement who will have a bigger impact in 2025."

Another area of concern is the offensive line, particularly on the right side where inconsistency plagued the unit last season. Most felt the position group would be addressed early in the draft, with the hope that the team might identify a starter. While San Francisco drafted two offensive linemen, it wasn't until the third and sixth rounds.

"Outside of all-world LT Trent Williams, the offensive line never impresses with overall talent," Rosenthal wrote. "The unit short-circuited in big moments during the Super Bowl. Yet this group almost always plays better than the sum of its parts, especially in the run game."

Rosenthal believes one draft pick, running back Isaac Guerendo, could be an intriguing piece this season, possibly competing to win the backup job. That's high praise, considering the team thinks highly of Elijah Mitchell as Christian McCaffrey's backup.

The 49ers revamped the defensive line in free agency, parting ways with Arik Armstead but adding Leonard Floyd along the edge. We'll have to wait until September to see if the changes are for the better.

"The defensive line has a different vibe," Rosenthal noted. "The 49ers went hard on solid mid-level veterans who can soak up snaps, signing Leonard Floyd, Maliek Collins, Jordan Elliott and Yetur Gross-Matos. Beyond Nick Bosa and Javon Hargrave, the group is not as flashy as it once was."

You can read Rosenthal's full feature on to see all of his 49ers-related notes.
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