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9 overreactions to the 49ers depth chart

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The 49ers released their first depth chart of the preseason. After two weeks of training camp, how can we overreact?

The San Francisco 49ers released their depth chart for Week 1 of the preseason, and it’s time to freak out.

OK, that’s not entirely true. The 49ers PR team releases the weekly depth chart, and while they might get a little input from members of the coaching staff, the release specifies this comes from the football communications staff. They are watching practice (and maybe hearing a comment or two) and putting together a depth chart for public consumption.

Nonetheless, that won’t stop us from considering what to make of the depth chart.

49ers offensive depth chart, Week 1 preseason

Position First Second Third Fourth Other
Position First Second Third Fourth Other
WR Pierre Garçon Aaron Burbridge Dante Pettis Kendrick Bourne Max McCaffrey/Steven Dunbar
LT Joe Staley Pace Murphy Darrell Williams
LG Laken Tomlinson Mike Person JP Flynn Chris Gonzalez
C Weston Richburg Erik Magnuson Alan Knott
RG Joshua Garnett Jonathan Cooper Coleman Shelton Najee Toran
RT Mike McGlinchey Garry Gilliam Andrew Lauderdale
TE Garrett Celek George Kittle Cole Hikutini Cole Wick Ross Dwelley/Wes Saxton
WR Marquise Goodwin Trent Taylor Aldrick Robinson Victor Bolden Richie James
RB Jerick McKinnon Matt Breida Raheem Mostert Joe Williams Jeremy McNichols/Jeff Wilson
FB Kyle Juszczyk Malcolm Johnson
QB Jimmy Garoppolo C.J. Beathard Nick Mullens Jack Heneghan

1. OH MY GOD, WHY IS AARON BURBRIDGE LISTED AHEAD OF DANTE PETTIS AND KENDRICK BOURNE?!?!?!

The coaching staff has praised Burbridge’s work this camp, but his ticket to the roster is most likely on special teams. Maybe he will surprise us as a pass catcher, but more than likely he will be strictly a specialist, and will be supplanted by Pettis and most likely Bourne by the time Week 1 arrives.

2. WHAT THE HELL’S A PACE MURPHY?!?!

Darrell Williams was viewed by many of us as Garry Gilliam and Erik Magnuson’s primary competition for reserve tackle work, but he is listed behind Murphy. Through two weeks of camp, Murphy has joined Gilliam as the team’s second string bookend tackles. Joe Staley might play on Thursday, but it will be fairly limited. Garry Gilliam likely gets the start in his place, but I’m curious to see how much playing time Murphy gets.

And that’s one thing to take from the o-line reserves on this depth chart. Mike Person is listed as backup left guard and Erik Magnuson is listed as backup center, but both can play both positions. These are very much placeholder spots.

3. I THOUGHT JOSHUA GARNETT WAS HURT?!?!

Garnett is indeed hurt and won’t play on Thursday. Jonathan Cooper returned from the PUP list last week, and has slowly worked his way back into the mix at right guard. He has split work with Mike Person, again, even though the depth chart lists Person as the backup left guard. I’m curious to see who is starting at the two guard positions this Thursday. Laken Tomlinson likely starts at left guard (as opposed to getting a veteran’s day off), but the right guard is unclear given Cooper’s relatively recent return.

4. WHY CAN’T GEORGE KITTLE GET AHEAD OF GARRETT CELEK ON THE DEPTH CHART?!?!

Kittle is going to be the No. 1 tight end when the regular season rolls around, but the 49ers will regularly use two tight ends. This is one position where the top two spots should be taken with a particular grain of salt. If Kittle stays healthy this season, he’s going to be atop the depth chart when it matters.

5. JOE WILLIAMS IS A BUST!!!

I don’t think that conversation will stop anytime soon, but for purposes of the depth chart, take a deep breath. Raheem Mostert is listed ahead of Williams, but Mostert is primarily a special teamer. Mostert will almost assuredly get some carries in the preseason, but Williams will be the guy they are watching closely in the ground game.

49ers defensive depth chart, Week 1 preseason

Position First Second Third Fourth Other
Position First Second Third Fourth Other
LDE Solomon Thomas Cassius Marsh Jeremiah Attaochu Dekoda Watson
LDT Earl Mitchell D.J. Jones Cedric Thornton
RDT DeForest Buckner Sheldon Day Will Sutton Niles Scott
RDE Arik Armstead Ronald Blair Jullian Taylor
SAM Eli Harold Mark Nzeocha Pita Taumoepenu
MIKE Reuben Foster Brock Coyle Fred Warner
WILL Malcolm Smith Korey Toomer Elijah Lee
LCB Richard Sherman Jimmie Ward Tyvis Powell Emmanuel Moseley
RCB Ahkello Witherspoon Greg Mabin Tarvarius Moore Tarvarus McFadden
NB K'Waun Williams
FS Adrian Colbert D.J. Reed Marcell Harris Terrell Williams
SS Jaquiski Tartt Antone Exum Chanceller James

6. WHAT’S GOING ON WITH PITA T?!?!?!

The 49ers SAM and LDE depth chart might be a little bit off. The coaching staff wants their players cross-trained, but I suspect Dekoda Watson is competing as much for backup SAM as he is for edge rusher work. The bigger question for some might be why Mark Nzeocha is listed ahead of second-year linebacker Pita Taumoepenu. I can say with absolute certainty, I don’t know. Nzeocha was listed as day-to-day on Monday’s injury report. If he does not practice on Tuesday, it would seem unlikely he plays on Thursday. My guess is Pita T gets a lot of playing time at SAM in the second half of the Cowboys game. The question is whether or not Dekoda Watson is first off the bench behind Eli Harold.

7. WHY IS FRED WARNER BEING BURIED?!?!

The 49ers third round pick has gotten his share of praise, particularly for his ability to work at both the MIKE and WILL linebacker positions. The team seems to be focusing him for now, but look for him to get a lot of work on Thursday. Brock Coyle returned on Monday from a hip injury, and was limited in his work. My biggest question for this position group on Thursday is who will be first off the bench behind Reuben Foster and Malcolm Smith (assuming both those two start).

8. GREG MABIN SUCKS, WHY IS TARVARIUS MOORE BEHIND HIM?!?!

Mabin and Tyvis Powell both found themselves in the lineup last year as injuries mounted. The team has added several cornerbacks this offseason, but both impressed enough to earn an additional opportunity this year. I think we see one of the two of them make the roster. Moore will be fine, but the intriguing competition could end up being between Mabin, Powell, and Jimmie Ward, particularly if the 49ers could find a trading partner for the latter given his price tag.

49ers special teams depth chart, Week 1 preseason

Position First Second Third
Position First Second Third
Position Bradley Pinion Jeff Locke
K Robbie Gould
H Bradley Pinion
PR Trent Taylor Dante Pettis D.J. Reed
KOR Victor Bolden Matt Breida D.J. Reed
LS Kyle Nelson

9. WHY ARE DANTE PETTIS AND D.J. REED BURIED ON THE RETURNER DEPTH CHART?!?!

Trent Taylor and Victor Bolden opened last season as the team’s punt returner and kick returner, respectively. Bolden is going to open the season with a four-game suspension, so we know he won’t be handling his role. My guess is Pettis and Reed are handling punt and kick return duties, respectively, when Week 1 of the regular season arrives.