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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


Josh Rosen among five bubble players fighting to earn spot on 49ers roster

Jun 10, 2021 at 4:00 PM1


With a new NFL season around the corner, coaching staffs are starting to get a feel for the teams they will be marching into battle with. The San Francisco 49ers have spent the last few months solidifying their roster from top to bottom. With many key players returning from injury, the 49ers have a strong group, with most of the starting positions locked up.

There will be several depth positions available for grabs. After a disastrous 2020 season, the 49ers learned that quality depth at all position groups is critical. Here are a few players who find themselves on the roster bubble and will all need to stand out in training camp if they want to earn a roster spot.

Josh Rosen, QB

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Josh Rosen has had a rough start to his NFL career. He was the number ten overall draft pick in 2018 and was chosen to be the franchise quarterback for the rebuilding Arizona Cardinals. One year later, he was dealt to the Miami Dolphins, who were also in complete rebuild mode. In 2020, he was exiled to the Buccaneers practice squad before being a late-season signing by the depleted San Francisco 49ers.

In 502 career attempts, Rosen has passed for 2,845 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He has an average passing grade of 47.6 and a QBR of 21.9. Rosen is often careless when throwing into coverage and forces balls into windows that are closed. However, it is difficult to judge his ability by looking at stats. Rosen has only played behind awful offensive lines and a significant lack of skill players around him. At just 24-years old, there is still room for improvement and optimism for the former UCLA Bruin.

His competition will be against free agent addition Nate Sudfeld. Sudfeld has played four NFL seasons and moved from a practice squad player to backup quarterback during his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 27 career passing attempts for 188 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Despite his lack of experience, the 49ers see potential in the 27-year old quarterback, as they signed him to a one-year contract with $252,000 guaranteed this offseason. He is also being reunited with 49ers quarterback coach Rich Scangarello, who was on the Eagles staff in 2020.

JaMycal Hasty, RB


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JaMycal Hasty became an interesting underdog story last season as he went from undrafted free agent to starting running back. This impressive move up the depth chart was mainly due to injuries, but Hasty showed flashes of being an explosive back, with two runs of 10+ yards in limited action. Unfortunately, his season ended in Week 8 vs. the New Orleans Saints when he broke his collarbone, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.

This season, Hasty once again finds himself towards the bottom of the depth chart and will need to prove that he deserves a roster spot. The 49ers spent the offseason strengthening their running back group by signing Wayne Gallman to a contract in free agency, then drafting two running backs. The offseason injury to Jeff Wilson Jr. will allow for a window of opportunity for all the running backs, but Hasty will have his work cut out for him.

During OTAs, Hasty has been splitting time as the number two running back with rookie Elijah Mitchell. According to reports, he showed up bigger and stronger than he was during his rookie season.

Mohamed Sanu


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Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk occupy the first two wide receiver spots. After that, things get concerning. The number three receiver spot is open, and it will be interesting to see which current 49ers receiver will be able to take advantage of the situation and win this key position.

Mohamed Sanu is hoping his second stint with the 49ers will be a more productive one. In 2020, Sanu played three games for the 49ers, catching one pass for nine yards before being released. In March 2021, the 49ers signed him again to a one-year contract. The signing was an attempt to add depth to the 49ers receiving corps.

At age 31, the nine-year vet should bring a leadership presence that will be helpful to a young receiving corps. In OTAs, he's stood out as the best receiver on the field and appears to be motivated to not only make the team, but to fight to be the number three receiver.


Marcell Harris, S


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On the defensive side, the secondary is another position group that was hit hard with injuries last season, and the 49ers were scrambling to find competent defenders to field on gamedays. One player who was thrown into the fire was safety Marcell Harris. In 2020, Harris played 348 snaps on which he mostly struggled, especially in coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, Harris had a 36.6 coverage grade and 40.6 overall grade, which ranked 92nd out of 94 eligible players.

Harris was drafted by the 49ers in the sixth round in 2018 and had a solid sophomore season in 2019. The 49ers extended his contract this offseason for one year in an effort to provide much-needed depth. After the extension, however, the 49ers drafted safety Talanoa Hufanga in the fifth round and signed Tony Jefferson to add to the current safety pool. Harris will need to have a strong training camp if he wants to make a case for a roster spot.

Kentavius Street, DI


Kentavius Street


Kentavius Street was a 4th-round selection in 2018 for the 49ers. He has racked up a total of 15 tackles in 18 games. Last season, he played 380 total snaps in 15 appearances. Pro Football Focus had him ranked as the 125th interior defender with an overall defensive grade of 32.6. Street struggled in run defense with a 29.1 grade but had more success as a pass rusher with a 58.5 grade.

The defensive line is fairly stacked, and it's a major question mark whether Dee Ford will be healthy enough to be active. Depth is key with this position group, so there are plenty of backup spots available. The 49ers used free agency to address the defensive line by signing Arden Key and Zach Kerr, who should secure their spots. Street has a tough fight ahead of him and will need to stand out and impress 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans if he wants to carve out a role on this line.

A team is only as strong as its depth players, and with the injury history the 49ers have, these positions are critical if they want a chance to get back to Super Bowl contention. There will be plenty of competition for these backup roles in training camp and it will be interesting to see who steps up and earns their places among the final 53.
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.


1 Comment

  • Bill Bruneau
    When Shanahan took over and the roster was humble, he said basically, "We will know when we are really competitive when other teams start to pick up our cuts." They are over the NFC West and the league.
    Jun 10, 2021 at 4:51 PM
    0

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