Welcome back Niners Nation.
For this piece, I took to Twitter to field some questions from the 49ers fan base. After the NFL Draft, there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered based on the the 49ers selected. San Francisco had another strong draft in my opinion, but because of their choices we're left wondering about how certain things (mostly roster and depth-related) would work out.
These are some of your questions that I pulled from Twitter. I hope the answers were sufficient; if not, feel free to tweet me for further analysis.
Who is your pick for the standout in this year's draft, non-first rounder, I.E. Kendall Hunter?
It's going to be hard to argue that someone other than LaMichael James will be that guy. I have a tough time believing he's not going to make 49ers fans say "wow" at least a couple times this coming season. But if you're looking for an impact guy right away, I am leaning toward third round selection out of Wake Forest, Joe Looney. Looney has a chance to compete for a starting position on the offensive line in his first year. If he somehow accomplishes that, it's going to be hard to say he's not the standout when James is still the third or fourth running back.
Which notable names do you see missing the final roster? Who will get cut without making the practice squad?
There's been an influx of offensive line guys, running backs and wide receivers, while on defense, it's been about adding depth. I think the odds are that if we see a notable name missing the final roster, it's on the offensive side of the football. I hate to say Anthony Dixon is going to be gone, but he's certainly got an uphill battle from this point on to keep his roster spot.
I know they like WR Brett Swain and brought him back on a one-year deal but with everyone else they added in free agency and the draft, including Stanford's UDFA Chris Owusu, I could see Swain losing his job in camp.
UDFA (undrafted free agent) with the best chance of making the team?
The early money has got to be on wide receiver Chris Owusu, formerly of the Stanford Cardinal. Owusu played for Harbaugh at the college level and now looks to make his squad as a pro. He's got a great opportunity too because San Francisco is having open season at the wide receiver position -- it's there for the taking. If Owusu comes in and turns heads and maintains a strong work ethic, I think he's a favorite to make the final roster.
Week one, who are the starting receivers?
My gut tells me the 49ers are going to have it balanced between old and new. I see Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss as the top two receivers on the depth chart on opening day, but it could be based on who matches up best versus the Packers defense. Jim Harbaugh takes it one game at a time and "the starter" doesn't mean much to him.
Who do you envision getting more playing time in year one, A.J. Jenkins or LaMichael James?
Good question, because the 49ers have stocked up at both positions and there is no clear cut formula of how San Francisco will arrange the depth. Jenkins is certainly going to get his fair share of chances but they have more of an investment in him, given that he was their first rounder. Jenkins will be utilized situationally like Aldon Smith was, and given an opportunity to find success early and get his confidence up.
Meanwhile, LaMichael James is now part of the heaviest backfield in the NFL. James is a wildcard though in that he can do things that guys like Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon cannot. The 49ers staff has also already said that they view James as an every-down back, which means he will not be limited due to the game situation. James will get enough touches his rookie year, and hopefully he makes the most of them.
Which position will be lean this year in order to carry more guys at which other position?
Good question, Tre. And surprisingly, I think the 49ers will be lean at tight end. It's a more solidified position with guys who are less injury-prone. I think they will do this in order to carry more players at wide receiver to prevent a repeat of last year. With Larry Grant staying on, I also think San Francisco is comfortable enough at linebacker to want to load up on defensive backs. It's a passing league and people rarely run on the 49ers as is. At this point, it's merely an educated guess but if I'm thinking like an executive in the 49ers front office, this would be it.
What is the chance that Kyle Williams makes the starting crop of San Francisco WR's after all is said and done?
Kyle Williams is a very talented receiver and I think he's got a very good, if not definite shot of making the 49ers final roster. He had sort of a coming out year when he was used in 2011, but had a tough go in the NFC Championship -- I don't think that will have any bearing on his status with the team whatsoever. Williams will earn a spot with the 49ers and break whatever misconceptions the fans still have about him. I see a rebounding type of year ahead of Williams.
Thanks guys for sending me your questions!
If I didn't get to your question, please send it to me on Twitter and I will respond directly.
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