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Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
With Training Camp about to start for the NFL in a few weeks, there are questions that follow each team. Like I did with the Packers, I will be doing the Top 5 Biggest questions for every team heading into Training Camp. Next up is the San Francisco 49ers who did not have a 1st round selection due to the trade up in order to acquire Trey Lance. But there are still questions that remain with this team.
1. What is the plan with Jimmy Garoppolo?
It is clear that the plan for the San Francisco 49ers is to have Trey Lance take the reins as the starting quarterback. I mean the team traded 3 1st round picks in order to acquire him. But the question is what happens to Jimmy Garoppolo now. Well, looking at his contract Garoppolo only has 1 year left on his deal and his cap hit is 26.9 million dollars. Which is a lot of money to pay for a backup and the 49ers could make a deal as remember he helped bring San Francisco to Super Bowl 54. There have been rumors lately that the Buccaneers and Lions have talked to the 49ers on Jimmy G, but as of now, no deal was reached. But I wonder if the 49ers want to have a backup plan just in case Trey Lance struggles in his development and if he does they can still be a playoff threat with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB. It will be a wait-and-see on what they do with him during the season as that move could make or break their season depending on how Lance has developed.
2. The 49ers have a ton of depth at running back, but who will remain on the roster?
For the past few years, the 49ers have had a ton of depth in the running back position. However, the 49ers will likely keep 4 of them. Out of the bunch, I think Elijah Mitchell is the favorite to be the starter after he emerged from last season. Jeff Wilson has been a dependable option for them. Trey Sermon and JaMycal Hasty showed flashes this year but were not great. Heck, the 49ers even used a 3rd round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to bolster the running back core by selecting Tyrion Davis-Prince. I can’t forget the best fullback in the league in Kyle Juszczyk. The position may not be as utilized as it is today, but Juszczyk is excellent in his role. However, somebody has to go on this team and the question will be who.
3. Besides Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel who will step up at wide receiver?
Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, when healthy, are great pieces to the San Francisco 49ers offense. Keep in mind the words if healthy as Aiyuk and Samuel have durability concerns. Aiyuk was luckily healthy last season but was clearly dealing with nagging injuries which could add up over time. In 2020 he missed games due to an ankle/hamstring injury. With Deebo Samuel he has suffered many injuries which took him out a chunk of the 2020 season. The point is that if both are taken out, who is going to step up? Well, there are a few options for the 49ers. Jauan Jennings at the end of the season showed flashes and potential of him being a target for Jimmy Garoppollo or Trey Lance to throw to. But I would like to see him get to a quicker start. Malik Turner has been a journeyman but has only had one year of decent production. Danny Gray was selected in the 3rd round of the 2022 NFL Draft and he may be a bit raw, but in time should be a solid player on this team. Ray-Ray McCloud is more of a special teams player, but I am not ruling him out. Marcus Johnson is not great but is a veteran player. This is a battle to watch regarding this team.
4. What is the plan with DE/EDGE Dee Ford?
I remembered years ago when Dee Ford was once a rising star in the NFL as a late bloomer prospect. He was finally starting to blossom into a great player, until being traded to the San Francisco 49ers. He has not caught a break with the number of injuries he has had. Especially with his constant back and neck injuries. Those injuries are no joke at all and I wonder if he will ever play a snap of football again. I would not be shocked if in a few weeks the 49ers decided to just cut ties with Ford either via an Osweiler Effect trade or by just cutting. Could there be a chance he plays? Absolutely. But where will he play? I don’t see him at DE/EDGE as Nick Bosa’s got the position and on the other side they used their second-round pick on Drake Jackson, Samson Ebukam was solid for them last season, and Jordan Willis showed flashes. I don’t see him going to linebacker as he did not look great when he played that position in Kansas City. The 49ers are in a tough spot with Dee Ford and it will be intriguing what they do with him.
5. Who will step up at the cornerback position?
The 49ers defense has a lot of talent, so it is easy to point out who will start at which position, excluding at cornerback. Well, they have intriguing options on the roster, but they have risks. Darqueze Dennard has not been great since he left Cincinnati in 2018.
The 49ers signed Charvarious Ward during free agency and honestly might be their best cornerback. But Ward was not an excellent player on defense and he might shine more in San Francisco. Emmanuel Moseley has shown moments of potential but is not the most consistent and durable player. Samuel Wormack was drafted in the 5th round of the 2022 NFL Draft and we will see how well he will develop. Tariq Castro-Fields was selected in the 6th round of the 2022 NFL Draft and could be a gem. Remember he was once considered a 1st/2nd round prospect in the hype up to the draft. Jason Verrett can’t stay healthy and I am not sure his roster spot is safe. Ambry Thomas had a better second half of his season and if he can impress right away, he could be something. Deommodore Lenoir did not impress me last season. Dontae Johnson has been declining, but could still have plenty in the tank. The cornerback position is their biggest weakness and I would not be shocked if the 49ers signed a veteran before preseason begins.