The San Francisco 49ers return to training camp in nine days, and that means it is time for what will hopefully continue to be a regular annual feature. A year ago, we put together a consensus ranking of the 49ers 90-man roster. It included rankings from myself and ten of our writers. You can look at last year’s full rankings here.
We’re back again, this time with 13 people voting. Since this is entirely subjective, I did not provide a specific framework for voting. I could have said “the best,” or “the most important,” or a whole host of other possible ideas. The Instead, I just told people to rank the 90-man roster heading into 2017. It’s not an exact science, but none of this is!
Thanks to Greg Valerio, Billy Kerr, Oscar Aparicio, Tracy Sandler, James Brady, Jennifer Chan, Pat Holloway, Steve Busichio, Scott Geelan, Mark Saltveit, TryAndCatchVD, and Joe The Wizard.
I’ve included the high and low ranking for each player, and then also my own ranking. On to the next ten players!
70. Aaron Burbridge, WR (High: 43, Low: 82, Fooch: 64)
The first 2016 draft pick to appear on the list. The 49ers are overhauling the wide receiver position, and it’s hard to see an open spot for Burbridge. The wide receiver depth chart will include Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, and Trent Taylor, with Aldrick Robinson a strong candidate as the fifth receiver. Burbridge did big things his last college season, but he has to show a lot over the next month.
69. DeAndre Smelter, WR (High: 37, Low: 86, Fooch: 67)
It’s been a weird couple years for Smelter. He sat out his first year as one of Trent Baalke’s red-shirt all stars. He was given a waived/injured designation last September and was released with an injury settlement. He eventually returned to the practice squad and then was on the active roster to close out the season. Like Burbridge, he’s facing a tough battle as an incumbent receiver, but Smelter is also the biggest receiver on the roster. He entered the NFL as a raw receiver, so if he doesn’t clean up route-running and pass catching skills, it’ll be tough.
68. Prince Charles Iworah, CB (High: 48, Low: 89, Fooch: 72)
We return to the 2016 draft, and another example of a raw tools player. Iworah had some ridiculous results in the various Pro Day drills. Whether he can ever convert that into cornerback skills remains to be seen, but at the very least, he could make an impact on special teams.
67. Don Jones, S (High: 48, Low: 90, Fooch: 53)
Speaking of special teams, we have our second free agent addition. Jones joins Dekoda Watson and Brock Coyle as potential core special teamers this season. I suppose 53 is too high to rank a basic special teams player, but (spoiler alert) I actually ranked Watson, Coyle, and Jones 51, 52, and 53. Barring too many injuries, they’ll be focused on special teams, and I didn’t think one was worth lifting too high above another.
66. Tim Barnes, C (High: 43, Low: 85, Fooch: 62)
The 49ers signed several veterans to compete along the offensive line, with Barnes joining Brandon Fusco and Garry Gilliam. While Fusco and Gilliam very well could claim a starting role, I see virtually no chance Barnes claims a starting job over Jeremy Zuttah and Daniel Kilgore. I think he can push Kilgore as the backup, but that’s his ceiling.
65. Vinnie Sunseri, S (High: 41, Low: 89, Fooch: 68)
And another competitor for core special teamer. The 49ers signed Sunseri to the practice squad early this past November, then promoted him to the 53-man roster in late November as injuries mounted. With the addition of Lorenzo Jerome and Chanceller James, it would seem like Sunseri is competing with Don Jones for a special teams role.
64. Will Davis, CB (High: 34, Low: 88, Fooch: 59)
The 49ers signed Davis on June 1, making him their second most recent free agent addition. He is coming off a pair of ACL tears, with the most recent in October 2015. He seems to be good to go, and given the cornerback depth chart changes, there is a decent chance for him to claim a roster spot.
63. Blake Bell, TE (High: 30, Low: 73, Fooch: 65)
The 49ers spent a fourth round pick on Bell in 2015. He spent much of his college career at quarterback, but realized a switch to tight end gave him a better chance at the NFL. He is a work in progress, but the additions of George Kittle, Logan Paulsen, and Cole Hikutini put him firmly on the bubble. He could be an intriguing tool in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, but there just might not be enough roster spots for the third year tight end.
62. John Theus, OT (High: 39, Low: 74, Fooch: 70)
The 49ers spent a fifth round pick on Theus last year. He was inactive the first 12 games of the season, and then active the final four games with one start. He struggled in his one start and the addition of Garry Gilliam certainly does not reflect well on the backup competition.
61. Cole Hikutini, TE (High: 33, Low: 86, Fooch: 60)
Opinions vary widely on Hikutini, which is how undrafted free agents tend to operate. He received the highest guaranteed money of the 49ers UDFAs, getting a $10,000 signing bonus and a $100,000 guarantee on his base salary. A full season practice squad player is guaranteed at least $115,200, so this would suggest Hikutini is at least going to get a practice squad spot. It’s not a guaranteed spot, but when you’re giving away that kind of money to a UDFA, you’re expecting some things from him.
71. Adrian Colbert, DB
72. Raheem Mostert, RB
73. DeAndre Carter, WR
74. Victor Bolden Jr., WR
75. Kendrick Bourne, WR
76. B.J. Johnson III, WR
77. Norman Price, OL
78. Zach Franklin, CB
79. Donavin Newsom, LB
80. Jimmie Gilbert, LB
81. Chanceller James, S
82. Noble Nwachukwu, DE
83. Erik Magnuson, OL
84. Nick Mullens, QB
85. Andrew Lauderdale, OL
86. Richard Levy, OL
87. Tyler McCloskey, FB
88. John Flynn, OL
89. Darrell Williams Jr., OL
90. Nick Rose, K