We are starting to get towards the “meat” of the San Francisco 49ers roster in our rankings. Here are the players ranked from 90-81, from 80-71, and 70-61. Let’s take a look now at some players who are on the fringe to make the roster.
60) LS Kyle Nelson; High: 45, Low: 71, KP: 70
I’m not giving Robbie Gould a pass because of the long-snapper. His issues were more injury-related, which is why I put Nelson so low.
59) LB Joe Walker; High: 51, Low: 87, KP: 51
Walker is a core special teamer that I believe will replace Mark Nzeocha. At 28, Walker ranked 15th in success rate last year among all linebackers in coverage. He also had 28 stops, and was 20th among all linebackers in average depth of tackle against the run, at 3.3. Walker isn’t going to wow, and he likely won’t play much on defense, but that speaks more to the starters than it does him.
58) OG Ross Reynolds; High: 54, Low: 87, KP: 54
Reynolds had a few votes in the 50s and 60s, and a couple of votes way down in the 80s. Reynolds is a great example of the 49ers having a “farm system” where they’re developing players at different positions that could help them down the line or the coaching staff believes has the talent to cut it in the NFL. Reynolds is a sneaky option to beat out Tom Compton or Colton McKivitz at guard. Reynolds isn’t spectacular, but he gets the job done.
57) WR Travis Benjamin; High: 44, Low: 67, KP: 67
This is Jordan Matthews all over again, just in a different body. I’m not sure what Benjamin brings to the table that no other receiver does. Can he return punts and kicks? Yes. Does that mean he’s one of the three best options? No. Benjamin is allergic to contact and will drive you crazy with drops. Benjamin went on the injured reserve last year with a quad injury. He is a deep threat, but so was Marquise Goodwin. I’d be surprised if he made the roster.
56) DL Kentavius Street; High: 38, Low: 60, KP: 60
Unlike my pals that helped out, I’m not giving Street the benefit of the doubt for being a draft pick. He’s been banged up for a few years now and hasn’t been able to show off his talents in the NFL. The 49ers investing in Kerry Hyder and Javon Kinlaw tell us where they’re at with Street as a player. I hope Street can stay healthy and put it all together this season, but I have more faith in a player like Jullian Taylor.
55) CB Jason Verrett; High: 49, Low: 67, KP: 52
Verrett is a long shot at making the roster as he’s proven time and time again that he cannot stay healthy. The front office won’t give up on him as Verrett still has talent. Last year, he was the No. 3 cornerback heading into the Steelers game ahead of Emmanuel Moseley. Verrett gave up a touchdown, and we never saw him again. I’m not sure what will be different injury-wise in 2020.
54) CB Tim Harris; High: 43, Low: 68, KP: 53
Harris is another player the 49ers want to develop down the line. He has good size and length and can run. Harris’s goal should be to find a role on special teams this year, while slowly carving out a place for himself on defense. D.J. Reed’s injury opens the door for Harris, but will he be able to take advantage of this opportunity?
53) DT Kevin Givens; High: 49, Low: 64, KP: 49
Givens must improve his strength at the point of attack if he’s going to be an every-down player. He doesn’t have to morph into Justin Smith. Givens just can’t get pushed around. As a pass rusher, his quickness is evident, and that showed up in limited action against Seattle. Givens is the type of player you keep around and develop in your organization in hopes that he can become a role player down the line.
52) DL Kerry Hyder; High: 34, Low: 64, KP: 34
Hyder is a veteran and has a history with 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. That gives him the leg-up on some of the younger guys fighting for a spot on the roster. If Ronald Blair isn’t ready to go to start the season, Hyder is likely his replacement. The 49ers are relatively young on defense, so keeping around a veteran presence like Hyder who can win both inside and out makes sense, especially if guys like Street or Givens aren’t ready to contribute.
51) WR Jauan Jennings; High: 45, Low: 67, KP: 47
Kyle Madson hates Jennings, wow!
Jennings will be the true wild card on offense. Many questions are surrounding his lack of speed and whether he’ll be able to get open in the NFL. Jennings knows how to use his size and is a terror after the catch. If he struggled with contested catches or didn’t look comfortable working through contact, then I’d be worried. That wasn’t the case in the SEC. The NFL is a big jump in competition, but Kyle Shanahan will put Jennings in a position to succeed.