49ers Post Draft Reaction: An In-depth Review

Photo Credit: Briana McDonald 49ers Digital Media Coordinator

As the dust settles on the 2023 NFL draft, I am left scratching my head. The 49ers started their draft late in the third round at pick #87 with a glaring need for the team was offensive line and secondary help after losing Mike McGlinchey, Daniel Brunskill, Jimmie Ward, and Emmanuel Moseley. Instead, the 49ers traded up in the third round with the Vikings to draft safety Ji’ayir Brown from Penn State.

After that, the draft was a bit… odd, for lack of a better word. With pick #99 the 49ers selected kicker Jake Moody from Michigan. Taking a kicker was not the craziest thing for the 49ers due to Robbie Gould testing free agency for the upcoming season. At the end of the draft, the 49ers did not select an offensive lineman, which has been a need since the 2022 season ended.

Below is a list of the new 49ers and how they can contribute in 2023.

Pick 87: Ji’ayir Brown S | Penn State

Ji’ayir Brown is an explosive safety ready to make a play. He is great at run defense, racking up 153 total tackles in his college career with nine of them being for loss. His pass defense is also impressive where he totaled 10 interceptions and nine pass deflections. His discipline might get him in trouble due to over pursuit or misreading a play. Luckily, he will be playing in one of the best defenses in the NFL, which will be able to cover up his mistakes.

I look forward to him contributing a lot in his first year and possibly starting early in the season due to Jimmie Ward and Tarvarius Moore signing with new teams.

Pick 99: Jake Moody K | Michigan

Jake Moody was the best place kicker in the 2023 NFL draft. He made 148 of his 148 extra point attempts at Michigan and made 52 of his 60 field goals in his last two seasons. Most of those field goals came within 40 yards, where he was very consistent. His downside is his leg strength, where he is a bit questionable once he crosses the 40-yard threshold.

It will be an interesting spring and summer where he and veteran Zane Gonzalez battle to fill the huge void Robbie Gould left.

Pick 101: Cameron Latu TE | Alabama

Cameron Latu will not hop off the page with his athleticism or power, but has a way of shaking the secondary and pinpointing the ball. He is not great at run blocking off the line, but does excel at next-level blocking.

I can see the 49ers using him when needing a short pass or help with blocking downfield on wide receiver screens. He will more than likely start the season as a 3rd string tight end and not see a large capacity of snaps.

Pick 155: Darrell Luter Jr. CB | South Alabama

Darrell Luter Jr. is a physical corner with long arms. His stats are not as impressive as a first-round talent, but he makes it up with his physicality and long arms. He is great at press coverage, but may have an issue with zone coverage. He will need to improve his coverage on the long ball, but his long arms and ability to read a wide receiver’s eyes should help him quickly adapt in the NFL.

I do not expect him to start Week 1, but with the luck the 49ers have with the health of their corners he could be thrown in at any time.

Pick 173: Robert Beal Jr. DE | Georgia

Robert Beal Jr. is a lengthy athletic edge rusher who found himself being overshadowed by his star-studded teammates at Georgia. He is a raw talent that needs to be coached to his true ability. He is inconsistent with his pass rush moves, but when they work he looks like an All-Star.

I think after a season or two with one of the league’s top defensive line coaches, Kris Kocurek, we could see Robert Beal Jr. have a nice career in the NFL.

Pick 216: Dee Winters ILB | TCU

Dee Winters is a bit undersized in comparison to the average NFL linebacker, but he is not afraid to stick his nose in a play. He is great at shooting the gaps and laying a big hit on a ball carrier. He will need to work on his pass defense and ability to read an offense. I expect him to see some snaps during the season, especially on obvious run downs.

Pick 247: Brayden Willis TE | Oklahoma

Brayden Willis has strong hands and a great ability to pick up yards after catch. He likes to get to the middle of the field, and is not afraid to make a contested catch. He will be able to provide some help in the 49ers pass offense, but needs to improve his run blocking. Maybe a year under George Kittle’s wing could help Willis’ run blocking ability.

Pick 253: Ronnie Bell WR | Michigan

Ronnie Bell is a strong-handed receiver who’s not afraid to block in the run game. Bell had ACL surgery in 2021, but bounced back with an impressive season. Speed and quickness are a bit lacking, but he makes it up with strong hands and well-timed leaps. I would imagine he would start the season on special teams and occasionally get a few snaps on offense.

Pick 255: Jalen Graham OLB | Purdue

Jalen Graham is an energetic line backer who plays with no fear. He plays very physically, but can also drop back in coverage. He is a bit undersized and lacks the ability to read blocking assignments at times. Jalen will be in a backup role and play on special teams.

If I had to give this 49ers draft a grade, I would give it a “C”. Some holes will be filled, and some are still a question mark.

Brock Purdy and the Anatomy of the Back-Up Quarterback

San Francisco 49ers starting QB Brock Purdy
Photo Credit: Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

Poise. Grit. Toughness. All these characteristics fit just about every late-round or undrafted quarterback who is forced into action due to injuries or ineffectiveness by the players in front of them. The media has to find a way to compliment them despite their often-obvious lack of talent — and these clichés have been their go-to for years. The latest in this long line of passers is the San Francisco 49ers’ Brock Purdy.

Purdy was the very last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, otherwise known as “Mr.Irrelevant.” He had a productive career at Iowa State, finishing with 12,170 passing yards and 83 touchdowns to just 33 interceptions. He is the school’s leader in both passing yards and touchdowns, as well. Despite his very solid collegiate career, there was very little NFL buzz as the draft approached, and for good reason.

Purdy is just over 6 feet tall and 220 pounds, with average-at-best physical tools. He completed a high percentage of his college passes (67.7%), but his accuracy was inconsistent due to a lack of arm talent. Overall, there was nothing special about him as a prospect.

What Brock Purdy is doing is not unprecedented

Purdy profiles very similarly to many other quarterbacks who have had brief success, only to fall out of the spotlight and back into back-up roles. Gardner Minshew, AJ McCarron, Case Keenum, and even former 49er Nick Mullens, just to name a few.

What do all those players have in common? They lack the physical traits to be a high-level starter. So many of these QBs are easy to like and root for because they often possess the “intangibles” teams look for. Leadership, football IQ, having that “dawg” in them — whatever you want to call it. The point, though, is there is usually a clear reason to believe that their success will be fleeting.

Looking around the league right now at QB, it’s hard not to notice the sheer number of freaks at the position. Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, etc. I could go on and on about how talented the league’s young signal callers are.

That’s why it is harder than ever for the Brock Purdy’s of the world to stick as starters. They just can’t compete with the uber-talented guys across the NFL. That doesn’t mean they are bad players or don’t deserve a chance. It just means that their teams can’t afford to not try and upgrade if given the chance.

Can Brock Purdy be Gardner Minshew?

For a glimpse of what Purdy could be, just look at Gardner Minshew’s career in Jacksonville. If you just look at the stats, he was very productive for the Jags. In 23 games with 20 starts, he threw for 5530 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

The problem was that he didn’t have the tools needed to elevate the players around him. He was very accurate, but lacked the arm strength needed to complete difficult throws. He often needed to run around and try to make a play, but didn’t have the talent around him to win that way consistently. His start for the Eagles last week was a great example of how productive he can be with a great supporting cast.

Despite that, nobody smart will be calling for him to replace the more talented Jalen Hurts. I loved watching him play in Duval, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before he would be replaced with a more talented QB. Even Jaguars fans must admit that watching Trevor Lawrence play is an entirely different experience from watching Minshew. It’s never fun to get rid of a guy who has the personality he had, but it seems to be working out in the long run.

Kyle Shanahan can’t settle for Brock Purdy

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has proven that his offense can succeed with just about anybody at quarterback. Even so, there is a reason why the 49ers traded so much to get Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL draft.

He can do things that no other QB Shanahan has had in San Francisco can do. That potential is too enticing to not explore. Based on the way many analysts and fans are talking about Lance, you would have never believed that he was named the starter to begin the year. That is exactly what happened though, and I don’t expect that to change next year — regardless of how Brock Purdy finishes his 2022 season.

Maybe that doesn’t end up being the right decision. Making a big move for a quarterback doesn’t always work out. Just ask Nathaniel Hackett and the Broncos. Still, the 49ers need to be sure that Lance isn’t the guy they thought they were getting with the third-overall pick. Only then should they consider giving Purdy a true audition to be the full-time starter.

Is it fair? No, probably not. If he continues to produce the way he has so far, then he deserves a chance to compete for the job. But it would be irresponsible not to give the more talented player in Lance at least a full season to prove himself.

Don’t set expectations too high for Purdy

In a sport dominated by some of the best athletes in the world, it is simply hard to be great without at least one or two stand-out traits. It doesn’t always have to be speed, arm strength, or even accuracy, but you must bring something special to the table. Unfortunately for all the passers mentioned above, they simply do not.

I hope that Brock Purdy and other guys like him find a way to pan out as starters. It’s a fun story and I love the underdog as much as the next guy. Even Jets quarterback Mike White is getting another chance after Zach Wilson struggled while White was injured. History, however, is not on their side.

My advice would be to enjoy the ride for however long it lasts, but don’t be surprised if things fall off suddenly. For the 49ers, they just have to hope it lasts a few more weeks.

NFC West Preview: Off-season Recap and Predictions

NFC West preview

The NFC West is one of the toughest divisions in football. The Super Bowl Champion LA Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks all made big moves this off-season. With three of the four teams believing they can win the division this year, there’s a lot to break down. Let’s see who each team lost and added, as well as predict their 2022-23 season in this NFC West preview.

NFC West Preview

4. Seattle Seahawks

Key loses – QB Russell Wilson, LB Bobby Wagner, CB DJ Reed Jr., DE Carlos Dunlap, OT Duane Brown, TE Gerald Everett, C Ethan Pocic

Key additions – LB/DE Uchenna Nwosu, QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, DE Shelby Harris, CB Artie Burns, DEN 2022 first (OT Charles Cross) and second (LB Boye Mafe), DEN 2023 first and second round picks

Re-signed – QB Geno Smith (1-year), FS Quandre Diggs (3-years), DT Al Woods (2-years), TE Will Dissly (3-years), C/G Kyle Fuller (1-year)

Extensions – WR DK Metcalf (3-years, $72 million)

The Seahawks finished with a losing record of 7-10 for the first time in the Russell Wilson era. That was good for last in the NFC West. So, they decided to start their rebuild. They shipped Wilson to Denver for a plethora of picks and players, and released longtime linebacker Bobby Wagner.

While fans hate to see their leaders of the past ten years go, the franchise is excited for the rebuild. However, with quarterbacks Geno Smith and Drew Lock on the roster, they know this year will be tough.

While they did bring in Charles Cross to hopefully be their left tackle for the future, the rest of the offensive line is still a question. Gabe Jackson had a good rookie season, but during his sophomore season he took a step back.

Drew Lock and Geno Smith will have help in the skill positions. With DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, both QBs have reliable and exciting targets. The backfield looks to be between Rashaad Penny and rookie Kenneth Walker III. Penny finished last season with a 92-617-6 line in the last five games. Seattle finished with the 26th most rushes per game last season, but we should expect that to increase this season.

The defense is a mess for Seattle. The linebacker corps of Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, and Cody Barton is expected to take a big step back with the loss of Bobby Wagner. The defensive line could improve the addition of Harris and Nwosu. However, I wouldn’t expect it to.

The secondary is where they will get hurt the most. They ranked second-to-last in the NFL last season in passing defense, while also being in the bottom 11 in interceptions. The trade for Jamal Adams hasn’t panned out so far, and while they do have Quandre Diggs across from him, the tandem has shown struggles in coverage.


I have the Seahawks finishing the year tied for last in the league with a record of 3-14. With a tough NFC West, they will go 1-5 with their only win divisional coming Week 9 at the Arizona Cardinals. It’s a rebuild year for Seattle, as they look to gain a top 3 pick and hopefully get their quarterback of the future in the 2023 NFL draft.

3. Arizona Cardinals

Key loses – DE Chandler Jones, ILB Jordan Hicks, DE Jordan Phillips, WR Christian Kirk, RB Chase Edmonds

Key additions – WR Marquise Brown, OG Will Hernandez, TE Trey McBride, DE Cameron Thomas, CB Trayvon Mullen Jr.

Re-signed – TE Zach Ertz (3-years), RB James Connor (3-years)

Extensions – QB Kyler Murray (5-year, $230.5 million), LT D.J. Humphries (3-year, $66.6 million)

Last season Arizona started off hot, as they went 7-0 before losing to the Packers in week 8. The second half of the season didn’t treat them as well, as they went 4-5. They finished the season with a record of 11-6, which was good enough for the fifth seed in the NFC and second in the NFC West.

They would go on to lose their playoff game 34-11 versus the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Kyler Murray struggled in that game going 19/34 for 137 yards with two interceptions.

The offense for the Cardinals lost an important piece for the first few weeks as wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for the first six games. They did bring back running back James Connor and tight end Zach Ertz to help carry the load again. The addition of Marquise Brown should open the field up more for Murray as well.

The offensive line is a mixed bag. DJ Humphries and Rodney Hudson are both very solid starters. They do, however, have one of the worst guard combos in the league with Will Hernandez and Justin Pugh. With their division having guys like Aaron Donald and Nick Bosa, the offensive line could struggle keeping the pocket clean for Murray. After ranking eighth in total offense last season, the Cardinals are looking for more of the same.

The Cardinals lost some key players on the defensive side of the ball with Jones and Hicks. They didn’t do a lot to fill those holes by bringing in defensive end Cameron Thomas and cornerback Trayvon Mullen Jr. For a defense that finished 11th in total defense last season, they look to take a small step back.

Their major issue on the defensive side of the ball was against the run, and that isn’t expected to change. With aging JJ Watt being the focal point, they will be looking for the rookie Cameron Thomas and defensive tackle Zach Allen to step up.

Their secondary should still be a force with Byron Murphy Jr and Budda Baker headlining. Their linebacker corps is interesting, as they have Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins, who haven’t lived up to the expectations yet. The defense should be solid this season, but nothing spectacular.


I have the Cardinals finishing 7-10 in the NFC West, going 2-4 in the division. Kliff Kingsbury could be on the hot seat after this season if the team doesn’t make the playoffs. Arizona is looking to prove the doubters wrong and make it back to the playoffs in a weak NFC.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Key loses – OG Laken Tomlinson, DL DJ Jones, CB K’Wuan Williams, OL Tom Compton, RB Raheem Mostert, DE Arden Key, C Alex Mack             

Key additions – CB Charvarius Ward, DL Hassan Ridgeway, WR Ray-Ray McCloud, DE Kerry Hyder Jr., DL Drake Jackson, RB Tyrion Davis-Price, WR Danny Gray

Re-signed – RB Jeff Wilson Jr. (1-year), OL Jake Brendel (1-year), CB Jason Verrett (1-year)

Extended – WR Deebo Samuel (3-year, $73.5 million)

After finishing last season 10-7, good for the 6th seed in the NFC, the 49ers went on a run in the playoffs, losing in the NFC Championship game to the Los Angeles Rams. It was a successful season for the 49ers, but wasn’t good enough for them. They are looking to make some noise again this season, but with a different leader on offense. The change of their quarterback could make improve their stance in the NFC West.

The 49ers announced that Trey Lance will be their starting quarterback this upcoming season. They restructured Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract, making him the highest paid backup in the league. It will be interesting to see how the offense changes with Lance at the helm. They finished with the seventh best total offense last season behind a fantastic breakout year from Deebo Samuel.

They lost two pieces of their offensive line in Tomlinson and Mack. Those will not be easy pieces to fill, either. But, with Kyle Shanahan as their coach they should be just fine in that department.

Outside of Lance taking over, the skill positions on offense stayed almost the exact same. Elijah Mitchell comes back to lead the backfield, while Brandon Aiyuk looks to break out next to Deebo Samuel this season. The offense should still be a force with the Shanahan playbook.

Deebo took over the spotlight for this team, but the defense was still the best side of the ball. Finishing third in total defense last season, they are looking to be even better this season. Nick Bosa is leading the defensive line again this year. With defensive tackles Arik Armstead and  Javon Kinlaw, who is coming back off of an ACL sprain a season ago, they should be a great front again.

While having one of the best linebackers in the league in Fred Warner, the 49ers are looking to wreak havoc against opposing offenses for another year. Ambry Thomas had a good rookie season, but the corners are still a question for the 49ers. Charvarius Ward came over from KC and, while he is a solid corner, having Emmanuel Moseley across from him is still a major concern.


The 49ers are looking to improve upon their 10-7 record. I have them doing that by one game. I see them going 11-6, finishing with a record of 4-2 against the NFC West. They will be hoping to get past the NFC Championship game and return to the Super Bowl to avenge their 2020 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

1. Los Angeles Rams

Key losses – OLB Von Miller, CB Darious Williams, NT Sebastian Joseph-Day, OG Austin Corbett, P Johnny Hekker, WR Robert Woods, LT Andrew Whitworth

Key Additions – WR Allen Robinson, LB Bobby Wagner

Re-signed – K Matt Gay (1-year), LT Joseph Noteboom (3-years), C Brian Allen (3-years), OL Coleman Shelton (2-years)

Extended –QB Matt Stafford (4-years, $160 million), WR Cooper Kupp (3-years, $80 million)

The winners of Super Bowl 56, the Los Angeles Rams are looking to repeat after their glorious run. They went all-in getting Matthew Stafford and it paid off. After finishing the regular season 12-5, Stafford finally got his ring in his first season out of Detroit, and he got rewarded with a major extension.

They also gave an extension to Super Bowl MVP and superstar wideout Cooper Kupp. While they lost superstar Von Miller to Buffalo, this team still has plenty of talent from their 2022 championship team.

The Rams 2021-22 offense was phenomenal. While they only finished ninth in total offense, they finished third in passing offense. The passing attack is expected to be just as good, if not better, with the substitution of Allen Robinson over Robert Woods next to Kupp — who just put up the second-best statistical season by a wide receiver in NFL history.

The run game is still a question, as Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. look to each take a jump in 2022-23. The offensive line took a hit with Whitworth retiring and Corbett leaving. Though, they brought back Brian Allen, Joseph Noteboom, and Coleman Shelton to help protect Stafford. 2022-23 should be fun for Rams fans watching this offense as they look to finish in the top 10 again.

There is no question who the leader of this defense is: Aaron Donald. Arguably the best defensive player ever, he helped lead the Rams to the sixth-best rushing defense in the league. While they did finish 17th in total defense, they made a few changes.

They replaced a future Hall of Famer in Von Miller with another future Hall of Famer in Bobby Wagner. This gives a big boost to an interior linebacker corps that had Ernest Jones and Christian Rozeboom set to take the reins.

The secondary is still solid highlighted by All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey with Troy Hill opposite of him. The Rams should expect the defense to finish in the top 20 again, and maybe top 10.


I have the Rams repeating as NFC West champs going 12-5 again, 5-1 in the division. The Rams are looking to go back-to-back and become the first team since the 2004-05 New England Patriots to do so. Will this team full of Hall of Famers be able to do it? We’ll have to wait and see.

2022 49ers 53-Man Roster Projection

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers concluded their NFL Preseason Thursday night with a 17-0 loss to the Texans. The final step before they kick off Week 1 against the Chicago Bears is to trim their roster down to 53 players by August 30. With that in mind, here is my 49ers 53-man roster projection.

49ers 53-Man Roster Projection: Offense

QB (2): Trey Lance, Nate Sudfeld

In an ideal world, I believe it would be best for the 49ers to keep both backup quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Brock Purdy. However, with other more important positional needs, the 3rd-string Purdy is the odd man out. If he doesn’t get claimed off of waivers, he’ll be back on the practice squad.

RB (6): Elijah Mitchell, Trey Sermon, Tyrion Davis-Price, Jordan Mason, Jeff Wilson, Kyle Juszczyk

All seven 49ers running backs are worthy of making the 53 man roster. Kyle Juszczyk, Elijah Mitchell, and Tyrion Davis-Price are locks to make it, which leaves Trey Sermon, Jordan Mason, Jeff Wilson, and JaMycal Hasty the bubble.

I’ve given the edge to Sermon, Mason, and Wilson. Sermon, a 3rd round pick in 2021, hasn’t proven a whole lot yet. However, he has the upside and the 49ers gave him first team reps in the red zone at points during training camp. Mason, an undrafted free agent from Georgia Tech, has been the talk of camp, and has already shown tremendous potential. The 49ers can’t afford another team to claim him off of waivers if cut.

As for Wilson, six running backs on the roster is a lot. However, Wilson (and Jamycal Hasty for that matter) provide pass catching abilities none of the other running backs provide, which could be critical. Wilson also provides a much-needed veteran presence, which could come in handy.

WR (5): Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Danny Gray, Ray-Ray McCloud

These five receivers are all locks to make the roster. The big question is do the 49ers need another one? Malik Turner is the frontrunner if there were to be a 6th spot, as he could provide some much-needed special teams help. However, I believe the 49ers have more important needs elsewhere and have a solid special teams corps already.

TE (3): George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Ross Dwelley

Like wide reciever, the question is if the 49ers want an extra player for the position. For tight ends, Tyler Kroft is the only one who has a chance to be the 4th guy. However, the 49ers are covered in the pass game, blocking game, and on special teams with the three players listed above. Kroft will probably be a practice squad addition.

OL (9): Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Mike McGlinchey, Colton McKivitz, Daniel Brunskill, Jaylon Moore, Jason Poe

Other than Trent Williams, the offensive line has many question marks. Aaron Banks and Mike McGlinchey have struggled at times throughout their careers, and Jake Brendel, Daniel Brunskill, and Spencer Burford don’t have much experience at their positions.

That’s why I believe the 49ers will keep a somewhat high nine offensive lineman. Jaylon Moore, Colton McKivitz, and Jason Poe have all shown throughout camp that they can be key depth pieces if something goes wrong during the regular season. That being said, all three of those players are inexperienced. In my opinion, it’s best to keep all three just to have a security blanket.

Also, I highly doubt he’ll make the roster, but keep an eye on Nick Zakelj. The 6th round pick out of Fordham has struggled immensely throughout camp, but has started to show signs of improvement. He’ll be on the practice squad, if he’s not claimed during roster cuts, and could make an impact down the line.

49ers 53-Man Roster Projection: Defense

DL (10): Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw, Charles Omenihu, Kemoko Turay, Samson Ebukam, Kevin Givens, Jordan Willis, Drake Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway

The only debate I see is if the 49ers want to keep an extra defensive tackle, Hassan Ridgeway, or opt for another EDGE in Kerry Hyder. Hyder proved once again in 2020 that he excels in defensive line coach Kris Kocurek’s system. As much as I’d like to put Hyder on this roster, the 49ers would be thin at DT if they kept him. Ridgeway gets the edge, joining Armstead, Kinlaw, and Givens in the DT room.

LB (5): Fred Warner, Azeez Al-Shaair, Dre Greenlaw, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Oren Burks

The only guy on the bubble is undrafted free agent Marcelino McCrary-Ball, but the five players listed above are significantly better. However, expect McCrary-Ball to make the practice squad.

CB (6): Charvarius Ward, Emmanuel Moseley, Samuel Womack, Tariq Castro-Fields, Deommodore Lenoir, Ambry Thomas

The only battle at cornerback is for the final two spots. I’ve given those to Tariq Castro-Fields and Ambry Thomas over the veteran Dontae Johnson. The 49ers don’t have as much of a need for Johnson with Womack and Lenoir playing nickelback, and thus, the 49ers should opt to go with upside over experience.

S (4): Jimmie Ward, Talanoa Hufanga, George Odum, Tashaun Gipson

Away from the starters, George Odum, while mediocre on defense, will make the roster due to his special teams contributions. The only battle right now at safety is between Tarvarius Moore and Tashaun Gipson.

Moore has been with the 49ers since 2018 and is solid on defense and special teams, but lost a lot of his explosiveness after his Achilles injury in 2021. Gipson, on the other hand, provides much needed coverage ability, but hasn’t proven much with the 49ers yet.

I’m giving the upper edge to Gipson. 49ers’ GM John Lynch said that Jimmie Ward will likely be placed on injured reserve. Gipson fills Ward’s role a bit better, and should get the nod to start Week 1. The 49ers can’t afford to risk another team claiming him. If not claimed off of waivers, Moore should be back on the 49ers Week 1 to replace Ward.

49ers 53-Man Roster Projection: Special Teams and Bubble

ST (3): Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Taybor Pepper

The 49ers have one kicker, one punter, and one long snapper currently on their roster, and they don’t plan to make any changes. Not much needs to be said here.

Bubble: QB Brock Purdy, RB Jeff Wilson, RB Jamycal Hasty, WR Malik Turner, TE Tyler Kroft, OL Nick Zakelj, (another OL?), DE Kerry Hyder, LB Marcelino McCrary-Ball, CB Dontae Johnson, S Tarvarius Moore

I talked about all these players in their respective position group, but thought I’d put them out here at the end. All 10 — or 11 — of these players have a shot at cracking the 53 man roster.  If they don’t, most will probably revert to the practice squad. If one player at their position goes down, they’re next up.

49ers Preseason Preview: Five Things To Watch vs. the Packers

Photo Credit: Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers kick off their preseason Friday against the Green Bay Packers. After 12 days of training camp, the players are still fighting for roster spots, more play time, and want to show the league what they’re made of. With that in mind, here are five players/position groups to keep an eye on Friday night.

1. Trey Lance

All eyes will be on Lance for this first preseason game. Kyle Shanahan said that some starters will play Friday, including Lance. The former third overall pick had an up-and-down camp, showing flashes of greatness throughout. This will be the first test in the Trey Lance era. Was benching Lance the correct move last season? How much has Lance improved since his week 17 start in 2021? While we might not see much of Lance during the game, fans should be focused on the few series he does play.

2. Jeff Wilson, JaMycal Hasty, and Jordan Mason

Running backs Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell, and Ty Davis-Price are locks to make the roster this season. These three running backs – Jeff Wilson, JaMycal Hasty, and Jordan Mason – still has something to prove. Historically, the 49ers have kept four running backs come cut day, meaning that at least one of these players won’t be a 49er come August 30.

I expect all three of these players to get snaps on Friday. Hasty and Wilson have much-needed veteran presence in this young core. While those two appear to be the favorites to make the roster, don’t count out Jordan Mason. The undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech has shined throughout training camp, and has made a strong case to be RB4. This will be Mason’s biggest test yet, and everyone can see what he’s truly made of tonight.

3. Kick Returners

Special teams was a massive problem last season for the 49ers. New special teams coordinator Brian Schneider has a lot of work to do to improve from the 49ers’ abysmal 2021 squad.

Kick returner was a key issue last season, and the 49ers signed multiple guys this offseason to fight for that role. Players who have returned kicks in training camp include: Ray-Ray McCloud, Brandon Aiyuk, Danny Gray, Malik Turner, Marcus Johnson, and KeeSean Johnson. Both Johnsons returned kicks on Wednesday. Those players may not all get reps, but the ones who do will have to make the most of it. Ray-Ray McCloud is listed at the top of the depth chart, but I’d expect others to compete for his spot.

4. The Center Battle

Daniel Brunskill and Jake Brendel have been fighting all camp long to be the starting center. Throughout camp, Brunskill would be on the first team one day, then Brendel would take those reps the next day (FWIW, Brunskill took the first team reps on Wednesday). Kyle Shanahan stated that he wants to see how both play in game, so expect to see both players get plenty of snaps.

Center is the most crucial position on the offensive line in Shanahan’s offense. With Pro Bowler Alex Mack recently retiring, starting center will be Shanahan’s biggest decision to make come week 1.

5. Nickelback

This viewing guide is a bit offense-heavy, so let’s throw some defense in! The 49ers lost K’Waun Williams this past offseason. They utilized Williams a lot, and they’ll needs to fill his role at nickelback. Veteran Darqueze Dennard took reps towards the beginning of camp, but Samuel Womack got the nod for that role on Wednesday and took advantage of it.

Additionally, towards the beginning of camp, Dontae Johnson took snaps at nickelback. I’d expect all three players to play in the 49ers’ first preseason game. The battle at the position should continue throughout the preseason, but Friday’s game should give people a good sense of how the battle is going thus far.