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Injuries could shake up special teams on 49ers depth chart

The 49ers made a minor roster move that might be worth paying attention to.

The San Francisco 49ers PR department released their unofficial Week 8 depth chart on Tuesday afternoon. A Tuesday release meant Adrian Colbert to IR and the signing of Tom Savage are reflected in the depth chart.

This is entirely unofficial, but it does give us one notable talking point. D.J. Reed is now listed as the starting free safety, as one would expect with Colbert’s injury. What I found interesting was the decision to move him from No. 1 kick returner to No. 2 kick returner. Rookie Richie James has replaced him in the No. 1 spot.

Such a change on an unofficial depth chart could mean nothing, but given that Reed is getting first crack at the starting free safety job, it would make sense that the coaching staff would prefer to keep him out of a high impact special teams position like kick returner.

Injuries can happen in a variety of ways, but with James active fairly regularly now and Reed potentially moving into the starting lineup, it would not surprise me to see James returning kicks this Sunday against the Cardinals.

One transaction of note that does not appear on the depth chart. The 49ers signed wide receiver Aaron Burbridge to their practice squad on Tuesday. The team placed him on injured reserve at the end of training camp this year, and then waived him with an injury settlement.

His return could mean a couple things. The first is the banged-up wide receiver corps. The 49ers are dealing with a host of injuries there and could use bodies. The second, and more likely reason, is Tarvarius Moore potentially getting more cornerback snaps. As Matt Barrows noted, Moore is one of their gunners on special teams, and Burbridge has significant experience in that role. If Moore plays more cornerback in the coming weeks, the team might use him less on special teams. If that’s the case, Burbridge can slot right into the role.

49ers offensive depth chart vs. Cardinals, Week 8

Position First Second Third
Position First Second Third
WR Pierre Garçon Dante Pettis Kendrick Bourne/Victor Bolden
LT Joe Staley Shon Coleman
LG Laken Tomlinson Matt Tobin
C Weston Richburg Erik Magnuson
RG Mike Person Joshua Garnett
RT Mike McGlinchey Garry Gilliam
TE George Kittle Garrett Celek Ross Dwelley
WR Marquise Goodwin Trent Taylor Richie James Jr.
RB Matt Breida OR Alfred Morris Raheem Mostert
FB Kyle Juszczyk
QB C.J. Beathard Nick Mullens Tom Savage

49ers defensive depth chart vs. Cardinals, Week 8

Position First Second Third
Position First Second Third
LDE Solomon Thomas Cassius Marsh
LDT Earl Mitchell D.J. Jones
RDT DeForest Buckner Sheldon Day
RDE Arik Armstead Ronald Blair III Jullian Taylor
SAM Malcolm Smith Mark Nzeocha
MIKE Fred Warner Elijah Lee
WILL Reuben Foster
LCB Richard Sherman Jimmie Ward
RCB Ahkello Witherspoon Greg Mabin Tarvarius Moore
NB K'Waun Williams
FS D.J. Reed Tyvis Powell
SS Jaquiski Tartt Antone Exum, Jr.

49ers special teams depth chart vs. Cardinals, Week 8

Position First Second Third
Position First Second Third
P Bradley Pinion
K Robbie Gould
H Bradley Pinion
PR Trent Taylor Dante Pettis D.J. Reed
KOR Richie James D.J. Reed
LS Kyle Nelson