This has been quite the offseason for the San Francisco 49ers. From losing running back Carlos Hyde in free agency to locking up quarterback Jimmy Garroppolo and agreeing to terms with former archenemy Richard Sherman the 49ers have run a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. They continued the roster retooling by drafting offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey in the first round and addressed some depth chart concerns in the later rounds.
After all of the chaos of the offseason, it is time to evaluate the roster moves. The following list is not necessarily a depth chart, but an analysis how the team looks heading towards training camp. Let’s reflect on a busy offseason by looking at the players the 49ers have added and how their 2018 season looks now with all of the new pieces in place.
49ers 2018 Roster Preview
San Francisco might have the best tackle duo in the NFL with 11-year veteran Joe Staley and rookie McGlinchey. While McGlinchey played both tackle spots in college, so he should adjust to right tackle just fine.
They signed Weston Richburg to man the middle of the line as the center. He played well for the New York Giants and should provide some consistency at the position.
Joshua Garnett is coming off an injury-plagued 2017 season but he showed potential in 2016 as a rookie. While the offensive system was completely different when he was drafted by then head coach Chip Kelly, Garnett played in a pro-style offense at Stanford and should transition well into Kyle Shanahan‘s scheme.
Jonathan Cooper signed as a free agent from Dallas, a team known for its prowess on the offensive line. With the release of Zane Beadles, Cooper figures to compete with Laken Tomlinson for the other starting guard spot.
The offensive line is not yet elite but the drafting of McGlinchey was a huge boost for the group. It will be interesting to see how this unit works together over the course of the season.
The 49ers bring back Matt Breida who will compete for playing time with big-time free agent splash Jerick McKinnon. If the last few seasons are any indicators, a Shanahan’s offense relies on a dual running back attack.
Last season with the Minnesota Vikings, McKinnon rushed for 570 yards and three touchdowns while sharing the load with Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. McKinnon also is a threat catching passes out of the backfield adding 51 receptions for 421 yards and two more scores.
Similarly, Breida rushed for 465 yards and two touchdowns while sharing the workload with Hyde. The beauty of this system is that it keeps the running backs fresh so that late in the game when the defense is worn out they can have the best opportunity to make a game-changing play.
They also have Joe Williams waiting for his chance to prove himself to the NFL. He was drafted by the 49ers in 2017 but sat out that season due to an ankle injury. He has talent but it will take a lot of work for him to push for playing time as the third running back.
They had a solid group last season with Trent Taylor, Pierre Garcon, and Marquise Goodwin. A position that also saw a major uptick with the addition of Garoppolo to the huddle. They bolstered the receiving corps by drafting Dante Pettis and Richie James. While Pettis adds an element to the return game, James seems to have great hands.
This group of receivers is not the greatest collection of talent but they are good enough to make an impact. They were used successfully last season and the weapons which were just drafted should add even more burst to an already explosive corp. This group has the ability to turn a football game into a track meet with their speed and it should be fun to watch this group wreck havoc against defensive backfields.
They are pretty deep at tight end and really use the position in the game plan every week. George Kittle adapted quickly to the NFL level and put up impressive numbers for a rookie. He had 43 receptions for 515 yards and a pair of TDs in 2017 giving reason to believe he can improve these numbers in 2018 and beyond.
Garrett Celek has proved to be an excellent complement as primarily a blocking tight end over the years. He had 21 receptions and 336 receiving yards in 2017 while adding four touchdowns. While these statistics are not overly impressive, his play in the red zone is invaluable to the 49ers offense. He always seems to find the right spot in the end zone for the quarterback to find him.
Garroppolo headlines this group and for good reason. He went a perfect 5-0 last season and has yet to lose a game as a starter in the NFL. The second he stepped onto the field the energy of the whole team elevated. It was as if he breathed new life into the whole organization. He was paid like the franchise quarterback everybody expects him to be with a five- year, $137.5 million contract signed this offseason.
They do have a capable backup quarterback in C.J. Beathard but he struggled against even mediocre defenses and it was clear he was thrown into the fire way too early. After a full offseason of development, he should be a good backup for Garroppolo.
The 2017 season seemed to be a precursor of greater things to come from the quarterback position. A lot of media scrutiny will be focused on this position in 2018 and this attention can make or break a franchise. Garoppolo’s composure under this level of pressure will be a defining factor for the future of the 49ers.
After three straight years of drafting a defensive lineman in the first round, the 49ers defensive line is young and talented. After this year’s draft, they got even deeper at the position. Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Earl Mitchell lead a fine defensive front. They drafted Kentavius Street and Jullian Taylor for additional depth, although Street will miss this season with a torn ACL.
Although his legal issues have turned, Reuben Foster is still a major question mark coming into this season. They did draft Fred Warner who has most of his experience playing outside linebacker but could see action inside depending on Foster’s eligibility. Warner was the complete package as a senior at BYU with 87 tackles and five pass breakups in 2017.
Former Super Bowl MVP, Malcolm Smith, missed all of 2017 with a torn pectoral and will hopefully be ready for the 2018 season. Eli Harold mans the other outside linebacker position and needs to improve as a pass rusher. He has only had five sacks in his three seasons. This is a big year for him as this is the last year of his contract.
Brock Coyle proved to be a decent backup inside linebacker. He had 36 total tackles in 2017 with half a sack. While this is not a terrific group, their weaknesses might be masked behind an improving defensive line.
Sherman proved to be the surprise of the offseason when he signed a deal with the 49ers. In spite of the heated rivalry of the past, the 49ers got an upgrade at cornerback and have a number of young, hungry cornerbacks to feed off of him. He can be the leader the 49ers have lacked in the defensive backfield.
They drafted Tarvarius Moore who is expected to move from safety to cornerback and compete for snaps with Akhello Witherspoon and K’Waun Williams. While the 49ers cornerbacks are not particularly deep, they now have the veteran leadership in Sherman to develop behind.
Jimmie Ward was average at free safety in 2017 but he has the ability to set the tone in the secondary. His 2017 season limited due to injury and it will be interesting to see where he fits in the lineup. Ward is expected to get looks at cornerback as well as Adrian Colbert has solidified himself as the early top free safety option.
Jaquiski Tartt had his 2017 campaign shortened due to injury but proved his ability to play both strong and free safety. He had 45 combined tackles, half a sack, and an interception.
The 49ers selected D.J. Reed who will compete for playing time at nickel cornerback as well as free safety. Additionally, San Francisco also brought in Marcell Harris to add further security to the position.