The San Francisco 49ers may only have a handful of 2016 starters actually starting under head coach Kyle Shanahan this season, thanks to the widespread roster overhaul.
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch isn’t messing around with taking a long-term approach to overhauling the roster.
Additions via free agency and the NFL Draft have pushed a slew of players off the roster. And more changes should be expected as Lynch trims the current 90-man roster down to 53 players by Week 1 of the regular season.
And as SFGate.com’s Eric Branch pointed out, over half of the roster from February 21 has already been turned over:
So while we’re at it, let’s look at last year’s crop of starters and see who actually starts this season under head coach Kyle Shanahan.
It’s not many… perhaps only seven or so.
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Here’s the list of 2016 starters, courtesy of Pro Football Reference:
|QB||Colin Kaepernick||29||5||11||San Francisco 49ers / 2nd / 36th pick / 2011|
|RB||Carlos Hyde||26||2||13||San Francisco 49ers / 2nd / 57th pick / 2014|
|WR||Jeremy Kerley||28||5||13||New York Jets / 5th / 153rd pick / 2011|
|WR||Quinton Patton||26||3||14||San Francisco 49ers / 4th / 128th pick / 2013|
|WR||Torrey Smith||27||5||12||Baltimore Ravens / 2nd / 58th pick / 2011|
|TE||Vance McDonald||26||3||11||San Francisco 49ers / 2nd / 55th pick / 2013|
|LT||Joe Staley||32||9||13||San Francisco 49ers / 1st / 28th pick / 2007|
|LG||Zane Beadles||30||6||16||Denver Broncos / 2nd / 45th pick / 2010|
|C||Daniel Kilgore||29||5||13||San Francisco 49ers / 5th / 163rd pick / 2011|
|RG||Joshua Garnett||22||Rook||11||San Francisco 49ers / 1st / 28th pick / 2016|
|RT||Trenton Brown||23||1||16||San Francisco 49ers / 7th / 244th pick / 2015|
|LDT||DeForest Buckner||22||Rook||15||San Francisco 49ers / 1st / 7th pick / 2016|
|RDT||Quinton Dial||26||3||11||San Francisco 49ers / 5th / 157th pick / 2013|
|LB||Ahmad Brooks||32||10||15||Cincinnati Bengals / 3rd / 2006 Supp|
|LB||Eli Harold||22||1||13||San Francisco 49ers / 3rd / 79th pick / 2015|
|LB||Gerald Hodges||25||3||12||Minnesota Vikings / 4th / 120th pick / 2013|
|RCB||Jimmie Ward||25||2||10||San Francisco 49ers / 1st / 30th pick / 2014|
|SS||Antoine Bethea||32||10||16||Indianapolis Colts / 6th / 207th pick / 2006|
|FS||Eric Reid||25||3||10||San Francisco 49ers / 1st / 18th pick / 2013|
Only nine defensive players are listed on the chart, since PFR didn’t account for a 3-4 base nose tackle (Glenn Dorsey) or another inside linebacker (Nick Bellore).
Both Dorsey and Bellore are out of the picture now anyway (free agency). So is linebacker Gerald Hodges (free agency), as well as defensive backs Tramaine Brock (released) and Antoine Bethea (released).
Eric Reid will still start, dropping down to free safety. And former cornerback Jimmie Ward moves to the strong safety position.
Within the front seven, only second-year pro DeForest Buckner figures to start. Fellow defensive lineman Quinton Dial likely makes the roster as depth, but even that’s not guaranteed.
And San Francisco has undergone wholesale linebacker changes, meaning Aaron Lynch, Eli Harold and Ahmad Brooks are pushed to the periphery. Perhaps off the roster altogether.
Widespread Offensive Changes
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is gone (opt out). Brian Hoyer takes his place.
Wide receivers Torrey Smith (released) and Quinton Patton (free agency) are gone. They’re replaced by free-agent additions Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. Although slot receiver Jeremy Kerley is still going to be in the mix to start.
San Francisco hasn’t gotten rid of any of its starting offensive linemen just yet. But the team has added a number of players for competition, including center Jeremy Zuttah and free agents Tim Barnes, Garry Gilliam and Brandon Fusco.
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Buckner is safe. So are Reid and Ward. But the defensive line is going to look vastly different with first-round NFL draftee Solomon Thomas and free-agent nose tackle pickup, Earl Mitchell.
And Arik Armstead could push EDGE Aaron Lynch out of the picture as the team’s LEO.
Rashard Robinson and Ahkello Witherspoon will likely be the team’s starting cornerbacks. Additionally, San Francisco’s linebacker crop will look nothing like last year’s group.
The only carryover here is NaVorro Bowman, who saw last season cut short by a season-ending Achilles injury.
On offense, running back Carlos Hyde is probably safe to start. At least early in the season. But he’ll be pushed by rookie tailback Joe Williams.
And tight end Vance McDonald, who was the subject of trade rumors before the NFL Draft, may easily lose his job to rookie tight end George Kittle. That’s an upgrade right there.
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The only unit which might see a near-complete carryover will be the offensive line.
Left tackle Joe Staley starts. The same is likely said of right tackle Trent Brown and right guard Joshua Garnett. But center Daniel Kilgore could lose out to Zuttah, a 2016 Pro Bowler.
Doing the math, all this means only about eight, or so, starters from last year retain the No. 1 spot on the depth chart at their respective positions.
That’s just over one third of last year’s 22-man starter group.
Needless to say, John Lynch wasn’t kidding about making changes.