The San Francisco 49ers report for training camp on July 25, and with time ticking down, we’re back for our annual roster ranking feature. The past two years, we’ve put together a consensus ranking of the 49ers 90-man roster. It includes ranking from myself and other Niners Nation staff.
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 12 of our writers. You can look at last year’s full rankings here.
This year, we’ve got 18 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 2018. It’s not an exact science, but none of this is!
Thanks to Greg Valerio, Oscar Aparicio, Tracy Sandler, James Brady, Jennifer Chan, Pat Holloway, Steve Busichio, Scott Geelan, Mark Saltveit, TryAndCatchVD, Joe The Wizard, Scott Geelan, Josh Eccles, Josh Cootner, ak4niner, El Shorts, Alex Eisen, and Akash, Anavarathan.
I’ve included the high and low ranking for each player, and then also my own ranking. On to the top ten players!
10. Kyle Juszczyk, FB (High: 5, Low: 20, Fooch: 10)
Last season, the 49ers offensive weapon was the versatile threat the team signed him to be. The addition of Jerick McKinnon could create as versatile a backfield as you’ll see in the NFL. McKinnon is a better pass-catcher than Carlos Hyde, and I can only begin to imagine the creativity we’ll see in formations. Last season, Juszczyk played 397 snaps. Garrett Celek played 561, and I’m wondering if we see Juice end up with more than him this season.
9. Marquise Goodwin, WR (High: 6, Low: 23, Fooch: 12)
The 49ers signed Goodwin to a two-year contract last year, and a breakout season earned him a three-year extension. He had a decent start, but really took off after Pierre Garçon went on injured reserve. Goodwin is still a strong deep threat, but how will Garçon’s return and the addition of Dante Pettis impact his role?
8. Weston Richburg, C (High: 4, Low: 24, Fooch: 5)
The center position is critical to Kyle Shanahan’s offense. With Alex Mack, Shanahan turned around the Cleveland Browns offense, and then helped guide the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl. Daniel Kilgore was a decent option, but Shanahan is hoping he’s found his Mack for the 49ers offense.
7. Pierre Garçon, WR (High: 5, Low: 12, Fooch: 9)
Halfway through last season, Pierre Garçon was the team’s leading receiver and on pace for 1,000 yards. He suffered a neck injury in that eighth game that would put him on IR. A day later the 49ers traded for Jimmy Garoppolo, and Marquise Goodwin finished the season as the leading receiver. Garçon re-joins a deeper receiver corps, but he could be the guy who helps Garoppolo and the offense find more success in the red zone.
6. Richard Sherman, CB (High: 3, Low: 20, Fooch: 8)
We will start to get a handle on Sherman’s training camp status as soon as day one. He will go through a physical and the team has to decide whether he should open camp on the PUP list. Opening camp on PUP does not mean he won’t be ready for the start of the season, but it will leave us waiting to see what his status is. That being said, he has already shown his value as a leader of the secondary, and a mentor to the young cornerbacks.
5. Jerick McKinnon, RB (High: 4, Low: 16, Fooch: 6)
The Shanahan offense has turned a host of relatively unknown running backs into solid to great producers. I was a little surprised how much McKinnon gets in year one of his contract, but Shanahan thinks he can be his go-to guy in the offense. We could see him in a significant rotation with Matt Breida in the ground game, but his work in the passing game could very well get him up over 1,500 total yards from scrimmage.
4. Reuben Foster, LB (High: 1, Low: 14, Fooch: 3)
We reach the first person to earn a first place vote (one vote). He faces a two-game suspension to open the season, but will be able to take part fully in training camp. DeForest Buckner is viewed by many as the most talented on this defense, but Foster could eventually give him a run for his money if he can stay on the field.
3. Joe Staley, OT (High: 1, Low: 5, Fooch: 4)
Staley earned two first place votes, and like the rest of the top three, had the narrowest of voting ranges. Staley had considered retirement during early struggles last season, but Kyle Shanahan helped put some pep back in his step. He got a pay raise this offseason, with boosts of $3.25 million each of these last two seasons of his contract. He is playing at a high level, but one has to wonder if he will want to keep going at the end of these final two years, or if retirement will beckon.
1. DeForest Buckner, DT (High: 1, Low: 4, Fooch: 1)
We had a tie for first between Buckner and Jimmy G, but Buckner finished with fewer first place votes (four). Reuben Foster could eventually challenge him for most talented on the defense, but Buckner is the guy who has the best chance of getting into Defensive Player of the Year considerations. If Arik Armstead can stay healthy, Solomon Thomas can take a step forward, and the team get anything from its edge defenders, Buckner could easily end up with double digit sacks.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (High: 1, Low: 6, Fooch: 2)
The quarterback position is the most important on the roster, and the 49ers are hoping they finally have their long-term answer at the position. Since Steve Young retired, they’ve seen a few quality years from Jeff Garcia, Alex Smith taking much of his time with the team to get on track, and then the quick burnout of the Colin Kaepernick era. Jimmy G joined the 49ers at the trade deadline last year, and after he entered the starting lineup, the team won five straight games to close out the season. He signed a huge contract extension this offseason and the pressure is now on. If he can build on last season’s five starts, there is a good chance he’s back atop this list next year.