The San Francisco 49ers listed two rookies as starters on their first depth chart of the regular season: tight end George Kittle and linebacker Reuben Foster. They are going into their Week 1 game against the Carolina Panthers with several rookies potentially contributing, however.
In addition to those players, Trent Taylor and Victor Bolden are both rookie returners. Lorenzo Jerome, another rookie, could start if Jimmie Ward can’t play and finally, Solomon Thomas will likely enter the game early on.
That’s a lot of rookies, and all could be big contributors. There’s a chance Bolden and Jerome are inactive if they’re not needed, but everyone else should see plenty of playing time.
Which one is going to make the biggest impact, though?
Kittle will likely get his looks, but he’ll likely be rotating a lot with Garrett Celek and fullback Kyle Juszczyk. We don’t know if Kittle is going to be a favorite target of Brian Hoyer’s, so he might not be the best option.
Foster should play the majority of the game, and he’s in a position where big outside plays will hinge on his ability to sniff out and pursue them. He’d likely get my vote when it comes to which rookie can contribute.
Thomas will rotate with Tank Carradine, and it will be very, very interesting to see which of the two ends up with more playing time. The 49ers invested heavily in Thomas, and they want to get him involved early and often.
Taylor is an interesting choice — he’s the team’s slot receiver and could see a lot of action in addition to his returning work, but I really don’t know how often Kyle Shanahan’s offense will use him.
So my guess is Foster. Maybe it’s the safe choice, but he’s who I’m going with. What say you?