One of the goals of new 49ers general manager John Lynch was to fill every starting job – at least tentatively – with a player capable of being an NFL starter.
After adding 16 players with significant NFL experience in his first offseason, Lynch appears to have accomplished that goal heading into the draft at the end of the month.
“Would we want to improve on that at multiple positions? Yes,” Lynch said last week at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. “Depth and competition brings out the best in everyone so you improve the depth at the back end of your roster for a lot of reasons, because you just want overall quality but also to bring out the best in everyone.
"We want to continue to push the envelope there and look at every avenue to improve as a team, and that’s how you do it.”
The 49ers believe they have a starter for every position, but in some case, they are not certain where all the pieces fit.
For instance, along the defensive line, Aaron Lynch is likely to play the pass-rush end spot and Earl Mitchell is best-suited at nose tackle. Many of the other players on the defensive line are versatile enough to play any of the other positions.
It appears Jimmie Ward will be moved back to free safety. But Ward may also handle the job at nickel back, covering the slot receiver, which would enable promising Jaquiski Tartt to get on the field with regularity.
On offense, veteran Jeremy Zuttah, acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens, can play either center or guard. So the 49ers will have to determine whether the line is better with Zuttah at center or with Daniel Kilgore at center and Zuttah at one of the guard positions.
The 49ers open their offseason program Monday, April 10, under coach Kyle Shanahan. Here is how their depth chart could appear before the draft (updated after the release of cornerback Tramaine Brock):
WR: Pierre Garçon, Aaron Burbridge, Eric Rogers, Rashad Ross, DeAndre Smelter
LT: Joe Staley
LG: Zane Beadles
C: Jeremy Zuttah, Daniel Kilgore, Alex Balducci
RG: Joshua Garnett, Norman Price
RT: Trent Brown, John Theus
TE: Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Logan Paulsen, Blake Bell, Je’Ron Hamm
WR: Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, Chris Harper
Slot WR: Jeremy Kerley, Bruce Ellington, DeAndre Carter
RB: Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, DuJuan Harris, Mike Davis, Raheem Mostert
FB: Kyle Juszczyk
QB: Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley
LDE: Arik Armstread, Ronald Blair, Zach Moore
NT: Earl Mitchell, Quinton Dial, Mike Purcell
DT: DeForest Buckner Chris Jones
RDE: Aaron Lynch, Tank Carradine
SLB: Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold
MLB: NaVorro Bowman, Carl Bradford, Wynton McManis, Shayne Skov
WLB: Malcolm Smith, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Brock Coyle, Dekoda Watson
LCB: Dontae Johnson, Will Redmond*
RCB: Rashard Robinson, Keith Reaser, Prince Charles Iworah
Nickel: K’Waun Williams, JaCorey Shepherd
FS: Jimmie Ward*, Don Jones, Vinnie Sunseri
SS: Eric Reid, Jaquiski Tartt, Marcus Ball
*-Can also play nickel
P: Bradley Pinion, Brock Miller
K: Robbie Gould, Nick Rose
H: Bradley Pinion
PR: Jeremy Kerley, Bruce Ellington
KOR: Jeremy Kerley, JaCorey Shepherd, Rashad Ross
LS: Kyle Nelson