The Starter At Each Position on Opening Day for the 49ers
August 9, 2021
Garoppolo will be the 49ers starting quarterback over rookie Trey Lance, no matter how much Niner fans want to see the rookie. Shanahan will be looking to see how Garoppolo looks coming off of that injury and will be able to have a reference point that shows when Lance should finally take the starting job.
Mostert suffered an injury-riddled season all of last year, but in a new and healthy running back room, Mostert will be looking to solidify his role as the lead back in an offense he has had so much success with. Expect the 49ers to use a committee with Jeff Wilson Jr. and rookie Trey Sermon getting touches, but when healthy, Mostert’s speed allows Shanahan’s Outside Zone Scheme to work to near perfection.
"Juice" is a critical reason as to why the 49ers run game is one of the most lethal in all of football. I hope that Shanahan designs more plays for him, especially in the passing game, because in the open field against a DB, Juszczyk is a matchup nightmare. (Reference Minkah Fitzpatrick)
WR-Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel
Aiyuk and Samuel are the clear cut top receivers on the team. I expect Aiyuk to take a big leap in production and targets this season with his rookie year under his belt and Deebo will continue to be a bully in the open field and take the Jet Sweeps. However, we don’t know who the WR3 is right now. Will it be Richie James Jr? Jalen Hurd? Or even an experienced Mohamed Sanu could potentially sneak in there!
Kittle doesn’t need any explanation to the Faithful as he looks to rebound from a season where he was out for nearly half of the year. His leadership will become even further heightened with the departures of Robert Salah and Richard Sherman. Kittle’s backup, Ross Dwelley, has proven that he can be a capable tight end in both the run and pass game for the 49ers.
Williams will be the anchor of an improved O-Line that will be looking to rebound after a shaky and rather disappointing 2020 campaign. With his new 6 year contract under his belt, fans will expect Williams to show out this season.
Tomlinson has proven to be a decent and somewhat reliable Guard for the Niners. However, if his consistency starts to falter a little too much, Shanahan may look to replace Tomlinson with 2nd-round draft pick, Aaron Banks.
A great, under-the-radar pick-up for the 49ers O-Line. Mack is an experienced Center looking to make his last few seasons count on a championship team. His time with Shanahan in Atlanta, when they went to the Super Bowl will hopefully allow for a seamless transition in the scheme.
Brunskill proved to be a great, versatile piece on the O-Line who can play almost every position on the Line. Hopefully he can find a home and consistency at the Right Guard this season after having spent the 2020 season all over the Line of Scrimmage.
This is a guy who is in a make-or-break season. After a promising 2019 campaign, McGlinchey completely stumbled during last season. He allowed way too many sacks as a former #9 overall pick and will be looking to rebound for the Niners in a contract season. However, he has gained roughly 20 pounds which will definitely help against the likes of J.J. Watt, Carlos Dunlap and Leonard Floyd.
DE-Nick Bosa and Dee Ford
This position could be lethal for the 49ers if they can stay healthy! Ford missed all of last season and Bosa was out since Week 2 after sustaining a Torn ACL. Bosa will be back, but I’m not sure if he will exactly put up the same production as his Rookie of the Year campaign. But, if Ford is healthy and able to contribute, Bosa and the rest of D-Line will have so much more space opened up. Without Ford on the field in 2019 when the 49ers went to the Super Bowl, the D-Line’s production stagnated compared to when he was playing. Dee Ford could be the biggest Wild Card that gives the 49ers that extra push.
DT-Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw
Hopefully, with Ford’s return Armstead will be able to move back inside to Defensive Tackle where he exploded in production alongside his long-time teammate, Deforest Buckner. Armstead has come off a disappointing 2020 season and the Faithful are beginning to question whether his 5 year, $75 million contract he signed was truly worth it. As he becomes extra motivated, his presence and size inside will allow Buckner’s replacement, Javon Kinlaw, to become an animal against opposing interior linemen. This is the best case scenario for the 49ers D-Line, as Armstead playing at D-End allows mobile QB’s like Kyler Murray to exploit gaps on the outside by scrambling.
LB-Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Samson Ebukam
After becoming the then highest paid Linebacker in football, Fred Warner, like Kittle, will take on a much larger leadership role this season. The 49ers heart and soul comes from the Linebacker group which has been THE most consistent group on the team. Greenlaw will play his supporting role the exact way it must be played, just like he has the past 2 seasons. When it comes to Ebukam, I personally don’t know how Demeco Ryans will use the former Rams player. Ebukam wasn’t used as a pass rusher that much, but Ryans may choose to go that route. I personally think that Ebukam will be competing with Azeez Al-Shaair as another pass-defence LB, but I could potentially see Al-Shaair coming in on 3rd Down or Passing Downs, whereas Ebukam could be a better fit in run support.
CB-Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley
The 49ers finally addressed their depth at the Cornerback position, but haven’t gone with a CB with a high round draft pick. Most of the secondary is on one or two-year contracts. Verrett will be expected to be the top Corner for the 49ers this season and even in the next couple of seasons going forward. Moseley will be his opposite as has shown that he can be a quality corner at times, but needs to be more consistent overall. I still expect K’waun Williams to be brought in as the Nickel CB even with his injury-riddled 2020 season.
S-Jimmie Ward and Jaquaski Tartt
Jimmie Ward has finally come into his own and will become the leader of the Secondary after the aforementioned departure of Sherman. His hard-hitting style is the exact "fast and aggressive way" that Demeco Ryans wants his defense to play with. Tartt on the other hand is on a prove-it deal with injuries that have left the front office skeptical of his ability to effectively contribute to the team going forward. While I do think that he will be the starter, I would also not be surprised if Tarvarius Moore takes over Tartt’s role if he is unable to impact the team up to their liking.
Gould will once again be the 49ers kicker. Hopefully, he is able to stay consistent and near a 100% conversion rate as his power has declined as he has aged over the past few seasons.