49ers' initial 53-man roster features rookies in prominent depth roles

C.J. Beathard, a rookie out of Iowa, has earned the right to be the 49ers' backup quarterback. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers unveiled their initial 53-man roster on Saturday. By no means is that a final roster, though. The Niners will scan the waiver wire closely, but for now they have 53.

With that in mind, here's one man's guess at an early depth chart.


QB: Brian Hoyer, C.J. Beathard -- This is one of many spots where a rookie is the primary backup. The Niners could always bring a veteran back if something happens to Hoyer, though Beathard earned the right to be No. 2.

RB: Carlos Hyde, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert -- Hyde will be the focal point but Breida will undoubtedly have a role. Like at quarterback, there's no proven experience behind the starter.

FB: Kyle Juszczyk -- Look for Juszczyk to help at tight end and potentially in the running game as well.

WR1: Pierre Garcon, Aldrick Robinson -- Robinson figures to have a bigger role than his backup spot would show. When the Niners go three-wide, Robinson can come in and allow Marquise Goodwin to play the slot on occasion.

WR2: Marquise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne -- Goodwin has the ability to line up all over the offense. Bourne will need to improve on special teams to be active on game day.

WR3 (slot): Trent Taylor, Victor Bolden Jr. -- Taylor impressed so much that the Niners cut Jeremy Kerley. He'll be involved in the offense and Bolden could get some opportunities as well if the Niners keep him active for his special teams acumen.

TE: George Kittle, Garrett Celek, Logan Paulsen -- Kittle emerged in the preseason and the Niners dealt Vance McDonald to Pittsburgh because of it. Paulsen is a key blocker and Celek can do a little bit of everything.

LT: Joe Staley, John Theus -- Theus won the backup job here but also played some on the right side. He has a little experience from his rookie season but is far from proven.

LG: Zane Beadles, Laken Tomlinson -- This could change in short order depending on how Tomlinson adjusts to a new offense. The Niners would like to see Tomlinson claim a starting guard job and allow Beadles to be a backup who can play anywhere on the line.

C: Daniel Kilgore, Erik Magnuson -- Yet another spot with a rookie who has to prove himself behind the starter. Given Kilgore's injury history, Magnuson may get his chance, though Beadles is capable of providing some depth here as well.

RG: Brandon Fusco, Laken Tomlinson -- Fusco will probably remain the starter here but Tomlinson has been a right guard for most of his career, which could lead to some shuffling.

RT: Trent Brown, Garry Gilliam -- No real surprises here though Gilliam also played some left tackle in the final preseason game. It's possible the 49ers might eventually decide to keep one of Gilliam or Theus but both are here for now.


LDE: Tank Carradine, Solomon Thomas, Ronald Blair III -- Blair is headed to short-term injured reserve so this is going to change soon. Otherwise, it's just a matter of when Thomas can overtake Carradine for this job.

LDT: Earl Mitchell, D.J. Jones -- Jones bested Quinton Dial in a race for this spot and already looked like one of the strongest players on the team as a rookie.

RDT: DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas -- For now, there isn't a dedicated backup to Buckner but Thomas has been moving inside on passing downs anyway. Blair also could play this three-technique spot if and when he returns from injured reserve.

RDE: Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch -- Armstead has the ability to play on the interior in sub packages while Dumervil offers a strong veteran presence.

WLB: Reuben Foster, Ray-Ray Armstrong -- No mystery here as Foster will start from the jump with Armstrong offering depth and special teams ability.

MLB: NaVorro Bowman, Brock Coyle -- Much like weakside linebacker, Bowman starts with Coyle as a backup and core special teams player.

SLB: Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson, Pita Taumoepenu -- Harold will be pushed by Watson, who is yet another key special teams player. Taumoepenu has upside as a pass-rusher.

LCB: Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser -- Reaser beat out Asa Jackson for a spot, presumably because he can be the backup nickel corner. Johnson won the starting job fairly early in camp.

RCB: Rashard Robinson, K'Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon -- Williams is the primary nickel option. Witherspoon is a developmental third-rounder who might not be active on game days. The Niners could look for more help at this spot.

SS: Eric Reid, Jaquiski Tartt -- Tartt will probably be the top backup at both safety spots while helping on special teams. Reid looks like he's found a great fit in this role in this scheme.

FS: Jimmie Ward, Lorenzo Jerome, Adrian Colbert --Niners general manager John Lynch said it's still uncertain whether Ward will play in Week 1 against Carolina but he will be the starter when he's back from a hamstring injury. If he's not ready to open the season, this is another spot where there could be a rookie in the starting lineup, though Tartt could also get the call.


K: Robbie Gould

P: Bradley Pinion

LS: Kyle Nelson

KR: Raheem Mostert, Victor Bolden Jr. -- Mostert was first for most of preseason so we have him pegged for that spot right now but Bolden offers a more explosive option if the Niners can keep him active on game day.

PR: Trent Taylor, Victor Bolden Jr. -- Taylor was second up in the rotation during exhibition season but again, Bolden is a more dynamic choice.