We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.



Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


Fewer than two weeks until the 49ers begin Offseason Training Activities ‑ OTAs. That’s when they’ll start to sort out their depth chart.

Here’s how I predict they’ll sort it out for offense and defense.



1. Jerick McKinnon

2. Matt Breida

3. Joe Williams

McKinnon replaced Carlos Hyde, the 49ers’ starter the past three seasons. Hyde averaged 18.7 touches per game in 2017. McKinnon never averaged more than 13.5 touches per game and never was a starter before signing with the 49ers. And he’s small. He’ll need Breida and Williams to share the workload with him.


1. Kyle Juszczyk

Juszczyk arguably is the best fullback in the NFL. The 49ers don’t even bother to carry a backup, even though Juszczyk had a concussion and a back injury last season and missed two games. The 49ers couldn’t use entire sections of their playbook without him.


1. Pierre Garcon

2. Marquise Goodwin

3. Trent Taylor

4. Dante Pettis

5. Kendrick Bourne

6. Richie James

Garcon technically is the No. 1 receiver on the team, but he’s not a real No. 1. He’s a No. 2 who’s declining. Goodwin is another No. 2. And Taylor is a slot receiver who can’t play outside. Those three are role players. The Niners don’t have a go-to receiver, someone who can beat excellent man-to-man coverage with the game on the line. They hope Pettis can become that guy in two or three years, but for now he’s a punt returner. He won’t play much on offense next season unless one of the top three receivers is injured.


1. George Kittle

2. Garrett Celek

3. Cole Hikutini

Kittle might be the best receiver on the 49ers when healthy, but he wasn’t healthy much last season. He had a hamstring, a hip and an ankle, as coaches say. Kittle may be the kind of player who always has an ankle or a hip or something.


1. Jimmy Garoppolo

2. C.J. Beathard

The 49ers didn’t draft a quarterback to challenge Beathard. They handed him the backup job, even though his passer rating in seven games last season was 69.2.


1. Joe Staley

2. Mike McGlinchey

3. Garry Gilliam

4. Darrell Williams Jr.

This is the best position group on the 49ers offense. It’s talented and deep. Staley will start on the left and McGlinchey will start on the right. Gilliam will be the swing tackle, and backup both Staley and McGlinchey. And Williams Jr. probably will be inactive for games.


1. Laken Tomlinson

2. Jonathan Cooper

3. Joshua Garnett

When Laken Tomlinson is the best guard on your team, your guards aren’t good. This is by far the weakest position group on the 49ers offense.


1. Weston Richburg

2. Erik Magnuson

Richburg missed 12 games with a concussion in 2017. And yet, this offseason the 49ers made him the second-highest paid center in the NFL in terms of total guaranteed money. They can’t afford him to miss any games.



1. Earl Mitchell

2. D.J. Jones

Both Mitchell and Jones are signed through 2020. In 2021, the 49ers probably will re-sign Jones — he’s younger than Mitchell, and will replace him as the starter.


1. DeForest Buckner

2. Jullian Taylor

Buckner is the best player on the 49ers. They drafted Taylor this year to be Buckner’s long-term backup.


1. Arik Armstead

2. Ronald Blair

Armstead will play only during early downs in the base defense. On third down, the 49ers will replace Armstead with a smaller, faster pass rusher.


1. Solomon Thomas

2. Cassius Marsh

3. Jeremiah Attaochu

Thomas will be the Leo in the base defense. On third down, he’ll move to defensive tackle, and Marsh and Attaochu will be the edge-rushers, such as they are. They have 16 sacks combined in their careers. Edge-rusher is the weakest area of the 49ers defense.


1. Eli Harold

2. Pita Taumoepenu

These two will compete with Marsh and Attaochu to be third-down edge-rushers, but won’t win the competition. Harold has five sacks in his career. Taumoepenu has none.


1. Reuben Foster

2. Fred Warner

3. Brock Coyle

The 49ers have to carry three middle linebackers instead of two next season, just in case the NFL suspends Foster for possession of marijuana, or possession of an illegal assault rifle, or domestic violence, or some combination of the three.


1. Malcolm Smith

2. Korey Toomer

Toomer played 15 games last season for the Chargers, who use the same defensive scheme as the 49ers. Toomer can fill in immediately for Smith, the starter, if he injures himself again. Smith tore his pectoral muscle last year during training camp and missed the entire season.


1. Jaquiski Tartt

2. Marcell Harris

This position would be better had the 49ers kept Eric Reid, who’s still a free agent, instead of replacing him with Harris, a rookie sixth-round pick who tore his Achilles tendon last year. The Niners made themselves worse.


1. Adrian Colbert

The 49ers can move Tartt to free safety if Colbert gets injured.


1. K’Waun Williams

2. D.J. Reed

Williams and Reed both are 5-foot-9. That’s awfully short, even for a nickel back. Most good nickels are at least 5-11.


1. Ahkello Witherspoon

2. Richard Sherman

3. Jimmie Ward

4. Tarvarius Moore

5. Tarvarus McFadden

The 49ers need lots of corners, because Sherman may not be healthy — he’s returning from two offseason Achilles surgeries. And Ward and Moore may not be corners — they’re switching positions from safety. The Niners hedged their bets. Only one of Sherman, Ward or Moore has to be a quality starter next season. The other two can be backups or trade bait.

Grant Cohn covers the 49ers for The Press Democrat and Pressdemocrat.com in Santa Rosa. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

Show Comment