Every year, we fans like to speculate throughout the offseason as to what our team's depth chart will look like during the upcoming season. And every year, someone ends up starting that no one saw coming. I personally didnt think Parys Haralson was anything more than a career backup heading into 2008 and he ended up leading the team in sacks. Takeo Spikes was signed in August to shore up depth at inside linebacker and ended up third on the team in tackles (could easily have been second on any team that doesn't include Patrick Willis). And I'm sure that Josh Morgan, the lowly sixth round draft pick, would have been a starter by the end of the year if it weren't for that groin injury. And then there's the ultimate surprise starter, J.T. O'Sullivan, whose biggest accomplishment in life is to have four capital letters in his name. If you had told me before the preseason that he would be our starter on day one, I would have screamed. In fact, I think I did scream when I heard the news.
So who will it be this year? Will Reggie Smith have such a strong camp that he gets promoted over Michael Lewis, despite his two years of great play? Will Dashon Goldson's health get the better of him and make way for Curtis Taylor to start at free safety before the end of the year? Maybe Takeo Spikes, one of last year's unexpected sensations, will fall to Scott the Killer by week 17. Josh Morgan is the only reciever that I think has already locked down a starting job, but Jason Hill would still be a big surprise if he managed to earn the other starting spot. And while Alex Boone is a little far-fetched, despite Marvel Smith's injury worries, I don't think it's crazy to believe Cody Wallace could pull a Chilo Rachal and earn a starting spot away from a solid guy (Eric Heitmann) based on potential. (Chilo did the same thing to Tony Wragge last year.)
I personally think that Cody Wallace has the best shot of anyone I mentioned above to start by the end of 2009. Feel free to add to my list in the comments, but keep in mind that guys like Shaun Hill/Alex Smith, Kentwan Balmer/Demetric Evans, and Tarell Brown/Dre Bly wouldn't count as "surprise" starters since they are already known to be competing for a starting job.