NFL Draft

Resetting 49ers' roster, position battles after busy 2024 NFL Draft

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The 49ers, over the course of the last six years, have put themselves into position to win the ultimate prize, though they have suffered losses to the Kansas City Chiefs in two of the past five Super Bowls.

During the course of the recently completed three-day 2024 NFL Draft, the 49ers constantly were faced with decisions about how much to swing for immediate help or whether it was best to look a season or two into the future.

“You want to always think about what helps us now, but then you get to that spot and there always isn't that answer right then,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And so do you go with what kind of helps us now or what helps us more in the future?

“And so you're just constantly weighing that.”

The 49ers ended up drafting eight players. And while the team did not have many — if any — starting roles to fill, there are opportunities for many of those draft picks to make immediate contributions while working into more significant roles in the not-too-distant future.

Here is how the 49ers look from a position-by-position standpoint with the roster nearly set (*-Draft pick #-Confirmed undrafted rookie agreements):


Projected depth chart
Brock Purdy, Joshua Dobbs, Brandon Allen, #Tanner Mordecai

A year ago, the only question was whether Purdy could get healthy for the start of the regular season. Once he was cleared for the opening of training camp, the 49ers were set. Then, the competition shifted to the competition for the backup job, which Sam Darnold won over Trey Lance.

That’s a similar situation this year, except that the battle for the No. 2 job is a lot less intriguing between Dobbs and Allen. Mordecai threw for nearly 10,000 yards on 1,281 pass attempts in his six-year college career. He was a reserve at Oklahoma for three seasons before starting two seasons at SMU. He finished up at Wisconsin. If he impresses, he could win a spot on the practice squad.

Running back

Projected depth chart
Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Juszczyk, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, *Isaac Guerendo, Patrick Taylor, #Cody Shrader

The 49ers return McCaffrey, the NFL's most productive running back from a year ago, as well as their top two backups. Mitchell and Mason provide good support for McCaffrey, and probably should be weaved into the action a little more this season to limit the wear and tear on McCaffrey.

The 49ers like the potential of Guerendo so much that they traded up in the fourth round to select him. He’s got good size (6-foot, 221) and he was the fastest running back in the draft, clocking a blazing time of 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Guerendo likely is to stick around and could see a rise up the depth chart in 2025.

Juszczyk accepted a reduced salary to remain part of the offense for another season. When Juszczyk’s time comes to an end with the 49ers, the offense likely will make a significant transition to more multi-receiver sets.

Wide receiver

Projected depth chart
Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, *Ricky Pearsall, Jauan Jennings, *Jacob Cowing, Ronnie Bell, Trent Taylor, Chris Conley, Danny Gray, Tay Martin, #Terique Owens

The 49ers did not need to draft a wide receiver in the first round, but this position group got a lot deeper with the addition of Pearsall at No. 31 overall. He and Jennings become nice options behind Aiyuk and Samuel. Did anyone really expect the 49ers to trade either of those two during the draft?

Cowing, a speedy slot receiver, was picked in the fourth round. As long as he is comfortable fielding the ball off the foot of NFL punters, Cowing should be the best option in the return game. Bell will have to work to hold onto a roster spot. Veterans Taylor and Conley could end up battling the youngsters for spots on the practice squad.

Tight end

Projected depth chart
George Kittle, Brayden Willis, Cameron Latu, Eric Saubert, Jake Tonges, #Mason Pline

This is a position that is still wide open for the 49ers to add a tight end before the start of the regular season who could fill the No. 2 spot behind Kittle. It’s all contingent on how the other tight ends look during the offseason program and training camp.

The 49ers selected Latu in the third round of last year’s draft, but he sat out his rookie season with a knee condition. When asked if Latu was the player they are looking at being the No. 2, Shanahan answered, “We’re looking at all the tight ends. He hasn’t been out here, yet. So, you know, we like guys to practice first.”

The 49ers could wait until final cuts around the league to figure out how to handle the other spots on the team’s depth chart at this position.

Offensive line

Projected depth chart
Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Jon Feliciano, Colton McKivitz, Jaylon Moore, *Dominick Puni, Spencer Burford, Brandon Parker, Ben Bartch, *Jarrett Kingston, Nick Zakelj, Corey Luciano, Sebastian Gutierrez, Isaac Alarcon, #Drake Nugent, #Briason Mays

The 49ers did not figure to add a Day 1 starter for the offensive line in the draft. But, perhaps, Puni can play himself into a role at right guard, where Feliciano currently is penciled into a starting role.

The onus is on Burford to step up his game in order to win a roster spot after a highly disappointing second season. He faces competition from Bartch, Kingston, Zakelj and others for a roster spot.

Moore figures to be in line to serve as the swing tackle, though Parker could play his way into a spot as McKivitz’s backup on the right side.

Defensive line

Projected depth chart
Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, Maliek Collins, Leonard Floyd, Yetur Gross-Matos, Jordan Elliott, Kevin Givens, Drake Jackson, Kalia Davis, Robert Beal, T.Y. McGill, Austin Bryant, Alex Barrett, Spencer Waege, Raymond Johnson, Sam Okuayinonu, Earnest Brown, #Evan Anderson

The 49ers did not use a draft pick on a defensive lineman for only the second time in the past 14 years. After identifying there would not be a lot of answers in this draft, the 49ers went hard in free agency to fill their needs.

The new acquisitions of Collins, Floyd, Gross-Matos and Elliott will be counted upon to join Bosa and Hargrave as key pieces in the 49ers’ D-line rotation. They are also looking for Jackson, Givens, Davis and Beal to expand their contributions. The 49ers have an agreement with Anderson, a 320-pounder from Florida Atlantic, who will be given a long look and should get a chance to develop on the practice squad.


Projected depth chart
Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, De’Vondre Campbell, Ezekiel Turner, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Dee Winters, Jalen Graham, Curtis Robinson, *Tatum Bethune

The linebacker positions — other than Warner and Greenlaw, of course — are completely wide open. There are opportunities for any of the others to fill significant roles, starting with special teams.

Bethune was the 49ers’ seventh-round pick, so he faces the biggest climb to win a roster spot. But it is not out of the question, especially considering the 49ers might carry an extra linebacker to open the season with the distinct possibility Greenlaw opens on the physically-unable-to-perform list as he continues his recovery from a torn Achilles.


Projected depth chart
Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, *Renardo Green, Isaac Yiadom, Darrell Luter, Samuel Womack, Ambry Thomas, Rock Ya-Sin, Chase Lucas, Kemon Hall

The 49ers liked Green a lot more than many of those individuals who compile their own draft rankings. So was Green a “reach” with the No. 64 overall selection? Clearly, they do not think so. Green becomes the favorite to win the nickel back job, which would allow Lenoir to remain on the outside for all snaps.

The 49ers now have some options behind Ward and Lenoir with Yiadom, Luter, Womack and Ya-Sin. It sure looks as if the team is moving on from Thomas, who proved to be a major disappointment the past two seasons after showing plenty of promise at the end of his rookie season.


Projected depth chart
Talanoa Hufanga, Ji’Ayir Brown, George Odum, *Malik Mustapha, Erik Harris, Tayler Hawkins, #Jaylen Mahoney

Hufanga continues his recovery from ACL surgery. Brown, a third-round pick a year ago, must avoid the problems that have plagued second-year players in the past. As long as he does not convince himself he already has it made, he should be a major part of the 49ers’ defense.

Mustapha can make an immediate impact in the kicking game, where Odum has excelled for years. Mustapha has a chance to be one of the better special-teams coverage players in the league due to his speed, tenacity and ability to dish out big hits. He can be developed for a 2025 starting role on defense.

Special teams

Projected depth chart
K Jake Moody, P Mitch Wishnowsky, LS Taybor Pepper, KR Guerendo, PR Cowing.

The only question is who will win the 49ers’ return duties. Taylor was signed before the draft to serve as an insurance policy in the return game. Cowing was selected in the fourth round to serve as a slot receiver and become the first option to handle punts. Perhaps, Cowing could get a long look on kickoff returns, too.

If Guerendo can win a roster spot, his ticket to being one of the team’s 48 active players for games might be special teams. His blend of size and speed makes him a great candidate to find success with the new NFL kickoff rule. The team’s No. 3 running back, potentially Mason, could also factor into the kick-return mix.

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