Over the last week, Pro Football Focus took a look at position groups across the NFL, and ranked them 1-32. They combined wide receivers and tight ends as pass catchers, the defensive line and linebackers as the defensive front seven, and cornerbacks and safeties as secondary.
In setting up the rankings, it appears PFF used the depth chart at OurLads. It’s a very useful resource, but they are unable to pay as close attention to the 49ers roster as all of us are on a day-to-day basis. They seem to base theirs primarily on the minicamp depth chart, and bumping up DeForest Buckner as a first round pick. It’s not entirely consistent, but it’s something. I’ve listed out the “sort of” depth chart below, along with a few thoughts. I’ve also attached the rankings for each position group, and then the divisional rank in parenthesis. I was a little surprised by the defensive line ranking, but otherwise I expected mostly low rankings. There is plenty of potential with these position groups, but for now it’s mostly potential. We’ll save this though and look back at it a year from now when PFF releases their next round of positional rankings.
Quarterback - 31st (4th NFC West)
Starters: Blaine Gabbert
Reserves: Colin Kaepernick
This is not a surprising listing. They either had to choose one of them as starter, or list them as co-starters.
Running Back - 18th (3rd NFC West)
Starters: Carlos Hyde
Reserves: Kelvin Taylor, Mike Davis
They’re missing Shaun Draughn and DuJuan Harris. The ceilings are pretty limited on both of them, but at least one of them will likely be a fairly significant contributor off the bench.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends - 31st (3rd NFC West)
Starters: Torrey Smith, Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton, Vance McDonald
Reserves: Aaron Burbridge, Eric Rogers, Garrett Celek
49ers fans are high on DeAndre Smelter, and Dres Anderson was getting some first team work at times in OTAs. As for the tight ends, Blake Bell will be in the mix as a reserve, and Bruce Miller will likely get plenty of opportunities in training camp. Some figure Miller is out the door, but I’ll stick with him as an option until he is no longer!
Offensive Line - 26th (2nd NFC West)
Starters: LT Joe Staley, LG Zane Beadles, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Brandon Thomas, RT Erik Pears
Reserves: Josh Garnett, Marcus Martin, Andrew Tiller
Thomas has been getting first team guard work, with Garnett unable to join the team until minicamp, after his final exams ended. Garnett was deep down the depth chart once he joined the team, but I suspect we see him move up. And one or more of Trent Brown, Fahn Cooper, and John Theus could be important reserves.
Defensive Front - 23rd (4th NFC West)
Starters: DE DeForest Buckner, NT Ian Williams, DE Quinton Dial; OLB Aaron Lynch, OLB Ahmad Brooks; ILB NaVorro Bowman, ILB Gerald Hodges
Reserves: DE Arik Armstead, DE Glenn Dorsey; OLB Eli Harold, OLB Corey Lemonier; ILB Michael Wilhoite
Lynch’s suspension changes this group to some degree. Tank Carradine could be a critical reserve for the outside linebackers.
Secondary - 17th (3rd NFC West)
Starters: CB Jimmie Ward, CB Tramaine Brock, SCB Chris Davis, S Antoine Bethea, S Eric Reid
Reserves: S Jaquiski Tartt, CB Dontae Johnson, CB Will Redmond, CB Rashard Robinson, CB Kenneth Acker
I’m skeptical Chris Davis is the starting nickel back when the season starts, but the first two weeks of training camp will be interesting with regard to how the depth chart shakes out.