The San Francisco 49ers face a lot of questions surrounding their roster in 2016, and it will take some time to figure out where this team stands. The team was fairly quiet in free agency, but did plenty of work in the 2016 NFL Draft. Additionally, they will welcome back some injured players, and look to further develop young talent from the past few drafts.
With that in mind, I thought we would take a look at each position, compare it to various points last year, and consider whether the unit is better, worse, or the same compared to last year. The table includes the current group of players, and then a list of players on the 90-man roster for the first preseason game, the players on the Week 1 53-man roster, and the players on the Week 17 53-man roster. The idea is to compare this year with last year across the board. The roster changes from August to December, so I’m including three separate markers just to provide an overall view of the position last year.
|Current||2015 preseason||2015 - Week 1||2015 - Week 17|
|Torrey Smith||Anquan Boldin||Anquan Boldin||Anquan Boldin|
|Quinton Patton||Torrey Smith||Torrey Smith||Torrey Smith|
|Bruce Ellington||Quinton Patton||Quinton Patton||Quinton Patton|
|Jerome Simpson||Bruce Ellington||Bruce Ellington||Bruce Ellington|
|Eric Rogers||Chuck Jacobs||DeAndrew White||DeAndrew White|
|DeAndre Smelter||Jerome Simpson||Jerome Simpson (SSPD)||Jerome Simpson|
|Dres Anderson||Dres Anderson||DiAndre Campbell (PS)||DiAndre Campbell (PS)|
|DeAndrew White||Issac Blakeney||Dres Anderson (IR)||Dres Anderson (IR)|
|DiAndre Campbell||DiAndre Campbell||DeAndre Smelter (NFI)||DeAndre Smelter (NFI)|
|Aaron Burbridge||DeAndrew White|
|Devon Cajuste||Mario Hull|
|Bryce Treggs||NIgel King|
|DeAndre Smelter (NFI)|
Plenty certainly has changed with the 49ers receivers. The most notable change is Anquan Boldin’s departure. He was the team’s rock at receiver most of the last three seasons. It might be possible he could return, but odds are pretty good, he’ll sign with a team looking for one last weapon to put them over the top.
With Boldin’s departure, a whole lot of young talent is looking at significant opportunities in 2016. Quinton Patton is currently at the top of the depth chart opposite Torrey Smith, with numerous young options behind him. Bruce Ellington could develop a gadget type role in this offense. DeAndre Smelter is off the NFI list, and hopefully will be good to go after a spring hamstring strain. Eric Rogers comes to town after leading the CFL in most receiving categories. Dres Anderson has been getting work with the ones and twos. DeAndrew White earned a roster spot last year. Devon Cajuste is an intriguing potential combo option.
All of that paragraph is to say, this group has a lot of potential, but plenty of questions. In terms of expected production, I would say the group is worse because of Boldin's departure. But one upside to him leaving is the chance to really see what the young guys bring to the table. I suppose it's homer-ish to say the group is better without Boldin, but I think the upside of this group is sufficient that I will let my homer flag fly! What do you think?