SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their offseason program on June 9 and open training camp on July 31 in Santa Clara, California. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:
Gabbert has the upper hand on the starting job, but don’t be surprised to see Kaepernick make a strong push in camp. He’s healthy following three offseason surgeries and seems to have been humbled following an offseason in which he asked to be traded, only to see nothing happen. Lewis’ experience in Chip Kelly-style offenses should allow him to beat out sixth-round draft pick Jeff Driskel, who could be brought back on the practice squad.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Hyde’s got the top spot in the backfield as long as he can stay healthy. Draughn’s ability to catch passes brings some versatility to the offense and should garner him plenty of playing time. Harris got extended reps in the offseason so it will be interesting to see whether he or Taylor, the team’s sixth-round draft pick, move up the depth chart.
Smith inherits the No. 1 spot on the depth chart now that Anquan Boldin is out of the picture, the first time in his career that he will be the unquestioned go-to guy. Smith is out to prove he’s more than just a deep threat and developed a good rapport with Gabbert in the offseason. The bigger issue is who will step up behind him. Ellington, Patton and Simpson are No. 3 guys at best, while Anderson – the son of former Rams star Flipper Anderson – isn’t consistent enough to shoulder a bigger load. White has the size but is more closer to being on the bubble than he is a regular contributor.
TIGHT END (3)
McDonald is the most accomplished of the 49ers' tight ends and spent most of the offseason working with the first-team offense. Miller is making the transition from fullback and is a little undersized for the position, but the coaching staff loves his grit and his ability to play on special teams. Celek gets in based on his experience with the team, and he's more of a natural tight end than Miller is.
OFFENSIVE LINE (10)
Staley, the five-time Pro Bowl left tackle, is the only real lock heading into training camp. The other four spots are up for grabs. Garnett, the second of the 49ers' two first-round draft picks, needs to catch up in camp but likely will open the season as the starting left guard. The biggest battle is at right tackle where incumbent Pears is trying to beat out the 6-foot-8. 355-pound Brown for the job.
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)
Williams gets the nod at nose tackle over Dial, though both will get plenty of playing time. Dorsey and Buckner, the seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft, will be the bookends on a line that will have to lean on its depth. Guys like Armstead, Purcell and Smith should figure heavily into the rotation.
Bowman and Brooks are a solid inside-outside tandem, while Lynch has developed nicely. Hodges has a little better upside than Wilhoite, though it won’t be a surprise to see the two flip-flop spots on the depth chart. Armstrong, a journeyman whose best work so far in the NFL has come on special teams, could also figure into the starting lineup at some point.
DEFENSIVE BACK (9)
Brock will start the season at one cornerback spot despite reportedly being shopped as trade bait in the offseason. Ward, a first-round pick in 2014, will start on the other side of the secondary, while Reid and Bethea hold down the safety spots. Beyond that is a lot of unknown. Tartt, a second-round pick in 2015, could push for a starting job if Bethea slips.
Dawson remains one of the steadiest kickers in the NFL. The 49ers think so highly of him they didn’t even bother inviting another kicker to the offseason program. Pinion put up respectable enough numbers as a rookie, too, so the kicking tandem remains unchanged.