The San Francisco 49ers are now a week removed from the 2017 NFL draft, and the 90-man roster is just about settled. Over the past two weeks, the team added 10 draft picks, 18 undrafted free agents, two veteran free agents, and a running back acquired via trade.
Rookie minicamp is underway, and the team will continue with phase 2 of the offseason workout program this coming week. We’ll be starting our annual 90-in-90 roster series on Monday. There are plenty of questions surrounding the roster and what the fall will bring. I thought I’d pull out five of the more notable.
How much of a workload will Joe Williams get?
Carlos Hyde entered the offseason as the clear starter. My guess is he remains the starter, but it will be fascinating to see if Williams becomes the next day three pick to succeed under running backs coach Bobby Turner. Hyde is entering his final season, so at the very least, Williams could very well be starting by 2018.
How will the defensive front seven look?
There is a lot of talk about the Earl Thomas role and the press work of the cornerbacks as the 49ers transition to a Seattle Seahawks style defense. However, one reason for the Seahawks defensive success has been the incredible depth they have. They rotate guys into the defensive front regularly. The 49ers have three straight first round picks in Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas, to go along with Earl Mitchell, Aaron Lynch, Quinton Dial, Ronald Blair, and Chris Jones. They have NaVorro Bowman, Malcolm Smith, and Ahmad Brooks for the linebacker roles, but also Reuben Foster, Eli Harold, and Ray-Ray Armstrong, among others. What will we see from this broad mix of players?
Who will emerge behind Pierre Garçon?
The 49ers signed Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, and Aldrick Robinson, while also extending Jeremy Kerley and drafting Trent Taylor. Add in notable UDFA K.D. Cannon and there is a lot of competition. Who will be the most prominent receiver after Garçon?
How will the offensive line shake out?
The team entered the offseason with all five starting linemen returning. However, they have since signed Tim Barnes, Brandon Fusco, and Garry Gilliam, and acquired Jeremy Zuttah via trade. Joe Staley might very well be the only safe player right now. I would guess Joshua Garnett would be safe as well, but with all the veterans, the 49ers coaching staff would seemingly look to push him in training camp.
Who will be getting what playing time at tight end?
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan both acknowledged trying to trade Vance McDonald this offseason. Will he make it to training camp? If he does, will he make the 53-man roster? The 49ers have been heavy on two tight end sets in the past, and Kyle Shanahan liked using his tight ends frequently in Atlanta, even when it did not involve them catching passes. George Kittle is going to get some opportunities, but he also will likely rotate in some h-back type work. The 49ers have plenty of tight ends, but who will end up topping the depth chart by the time September arrives is a big question.
What are some of your questions? The quarterback position is not settled for the long-term, but for the fall, we know how the team is hoping things shake out. But other than that, what are the questions that will guide your training camp outlook?