49ers 2017 pre-draft depth chart

49ers 2017 pre-draft depth chart

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

Reuben Foster does not wait long to show he can be special for 49ers

Reuben Foster does not wait long to show he can be special for 49ers

SANTA CLARA – There is something different about Reuben Foster.

It is similar to when Patrick Willis stepped on the practice field with the 49ers for training camp in 2007. He started out as a backup and had to earn his way onto the field.

All it took was two exhibition games. Brandon Moore was out of the starting lineup. Patrick Willis was in, and seven consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl followed.

Foster is not being handed a starting job with the 49ers. In fact, he faces a more difficult challenge to break into the starting lineup.

In front of Foster is veteran Malcolm Smith at the weakside linebacker spot. Eventually, Foster’s role in the 49ers’ defense will be the middle linebacker spot, where NaVorro Bowman is entrenched as the starter.

But it’s only a matter of time until Foster asserts himself as an every-down player.

Foster will have to earn his way into the starting lineup. He will have to earn respect with how he practices and plays. That was apparent on Thursday when Bowman was asked whether he watched Foster in college. Bowman gave a tepid review of Foster.

That’s understandable. After all, Foster had not practiced with the team until Friday. He was held out practices during the offseason program as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery. It took Bowman a full year before he won his starting job. Bowman started one game as a rookie before establishing himself as a starter and an All-Pro performer the next season.

Bowman is not going to lavish praise on a player who had never made it through an NFL practice – even someone who was the most-accomplished collegiate player on the 49ers’ roster.

Foster received medical clearance on Wednesday to take part on Day 1 of practice when the 49ers opened training camp on Friday. It took almost no time for him to stand out.

Foster intercepted a pass from fellow rookie C.J. Beathard early in Friday’s practice. Then, quite a scene followed. Foster returned it into the end zone through a maze of players -- many of whom were standing behind the line of scrimmage and not even involved in the play.

In his three seasons at Alabama, Foster never intercepted a pass. He was known for his toughness and violent sideline-to-sideline tackling ability.

“It was good to get him out there, get him on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I know he’s been chomping at the bit for a while now. It was good to see him go through it full speed, deal with getting aligned right and stuff. I think he got an interception out there today, which was good for him. It was a good first day.”

Foster could quickly turn into the most-exciting player on a team that is severely lacking in star quality. The 49ers targeted him early in the draft process as a player they wanted. Then, he had to check out physically and mentally for the team to determine when he was a person they wanted, too. When he visited the 49ers before the draft, general manager John Lynch became even more intrigued.

“He’s got an excitement that’s infectious,” Lynch said. “He’s an alpha dog. He wants to lead. He’s ready, he’s eager and we are certainly excited to watch him play.”

The 49ers did not believe his shoulder was a major issue. According to national reports, some teams removed him from their draft boards over concerns about his health. The 49ers would have taken him with the No. 3 pick in the draft if Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas were selected with the top two picks.

Concerns over Foster’s health and a diluted urine sample, which immediately places him into the NFL program for substances of abuse, were the only justifications for his tumble to the end of the first round. The 49ers found a trade partner in the Seattle Seahawks and took Foster with the No. 31 overall pick.

Some teams probably really did have serious concerns about his shoulder. And perhaps those concerns were justified. But, maybe, the teams that could have drafted him feel the need to cover their own backsides for passing on a player who has the look of a special player.

49ers sign top pick Solomon Thomas during first practice

49ers sign top pick Solomon Thomas during first practice

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers completed contract negotiations with their final unsigned draft pick as the team was going through warm-ups for the first practice of training camp.

Former Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 3 overall pick, signed Friday and was expected to join his teammates later in the day.

The sides agreed to the mandatory four-year contract worth more than $28 million, including a signing bonus of approximately $18.6 million. The deal is expected to be fully guaranteed.

The 49ers also have an option for the fifth season (2021) that must be exercised months after the 2019 season.

Thomas was unable to participate in full-squad workouts during the offseason due to Stanford’s late class schedule. NFL rules prohibit a rookie from attending the offseason program until his school’s classes have concluded for the spring session.

The 49ers – and the vast majority of NFL teams – have not had a contract stalemate with a rookie since the new collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2011.

The organization had similar timing with a first-round pick from last year. Guard Joshua Garnett, also from Stanford, signed with the 49ers on the evening before players were scheduled to report to training camp.

Around the NFL, there has been only one notable contract disagreement that prevented a draft pick from reporting to camp in a timely fashion. Defensive lineman Joey Bosa, whom the Chargers selected with the No. 3 pick last year, sat out a month of training camp due to a disagreement over how his bonus would be distributed. Bosa and Thomas are both represented by the agent firm of Creative Artists Agency.