The San Francisco 49ers released their first depth chart of the preseason Tuesday evening, which you can see here. The weekly depth chart is compiled by the team’s communications staff. While there is some feedback from the coaches, it involves some projections by the communications staff. We’ve seen in the past where a clear starter on the field is not showing up in the same spot on the depth chart. That being said, I thought we’d look at some notable competitions and what it shows us. Does anything in particular jump out at you?
Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick are listed as co-starters, so there is no clarity in that. Thad Lewis is listed at No. 3, with Jeff Driskel listed at No. 4, so we’ll see if that holds up when the 49ers sort out playing time for this weekend.
Shaun Draughn is listed as the No. 2 running back, followed by DuJuan Harris. I’m not surprised the two veterans would be at the top for now. Kelvin Taylor and Mike Davis both have plenty to prove in the preseason, and they will be the two running backs I am going to watch closest this weekend.
The 49ers are in a three receiver look on the depth chart. Chip Kelly will use plenty of receivers and no traditional fullback, so even the players not starting in the first unit could be looking at plenty of playing time. Torrey Smith, Quinton Patton, and Bruce Ellington are the first three receivers. Their respective “backups” are DeAndrew White, Jerome Simpson, and DeAndre Smelter. We’ve frequently discussed who might emerge as the starter opposite Torrey Smith, as well as the slot starter. Practice reports seem to suggest Patton and Ellington are holding off the younger players for now.
The competition between Gerald Hodges, Michael Wilhoite, and Ray-Ray Armstrong continues on, with the players rotating into the first unit opposite NaVorro Bowman. I have no idea how exactly the team will sort that out, particularly in terms of starting next to Bowman in the preseason. Of course, I doubt Bowman gets a lot of snaps this preseason, so there should be plenty of first team ILB snaps to go around.
Ahmad Brooks and Aaron Lynch are listed as the starters, as one would expect. Eli Harold is listed behind Lynch, while Tank Carradine and Corey Lemonier are listed as co-No. 2s behind Brooks. The snap rotation between Tank, Lemonier, Marcus Rush, and Jason Fanaika will be something to watch this weekend.
The 49ers do not list a nickel back, so we are left to speculate for now. Jimmie Ward remains listed as a starter outside opposite Tramaine Brock. Then, Dontae Johnson and Rashard Robinson are paired together on one side of the second string, and Chris Davis and Keith Reaser are paired on the other side. Kenneth Acker and Will Redmond are listed after those two units, respectively. The 49ers have had Davis, Reaser, and Redmond working in the slot during camp and the offseason workout program, so that could be the current interpretation of the nickel competition. However, the depth chart is always slow to move rookies into a starting spot, so Redmond could very well be in a virtual tie with Davis and Reaser for nickel work.