Will these five players ever see a snap for the 49ers in 2020?
The San Francisco 49ers didn’t have a ton of holes to fill over the course of the 2020 offseason. General manager John Lynch’s NFL Draft class brought in a mere five players, which stands in stark contrast to the 15 draftees the Minnesota Vikings, the team the Niners eliminated from the playoffs last season, brought aboard in last April’s draft.
There were substantial changes to San Francisco’s roster, yes. Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner is gone. So are wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and left tackle Joe Staley.
Filling those voids was a top priority, yet there’s the need to reinforce beyond just a single player for a single position.
With the 49ers’ 90-man offseason roster now set, albeit expecting slight tweaks and changes between now and training camp, it doesn’t take a lot to realize a number of new faces the Niners brought in during the offseason could feasibly never see a regular-season snap for San Francisco.
It’s happened before and will again. Remember the 49ers drafting former Stanford tight end Kaden Smith in 2019? He never saw the field in a Niners uniform aside from the preseason. There are plenty of other examples, too, including moves in free agency.
So, which new players on the team’s roster could ultimately fall victim to never seeing a snap with San Francisco?
No. 5: 49ers Wide Receiver Travis Benjamin
The Niners needed to reinforce their wide receiver room after losing Sanders, especially considering the multitude of depth questions behind the now-apparent No. 1 option, Deebo Samuel.
One of those moves was to bring aboard the veteran and former Los Angeles Chargers wideout, Travis Benjamin, on a one year deal.
Benjamin, 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, figured to compete for slot receiver duties, potentially alleviating any concerns the Niners had about slot receiver Trent Taylor, who had spent the better part of the last two years dealing with injury.
Taylor is back healthy now, though, and he figures to have a leg up over Benjamin on the depth chart.
True, Benjamin has speed to burn, as his 2012 40-yard time of 4.36 seconds was exemplary. But Benjamin is also 30 years old, has dealt with injuries over the past two years, too. Plus, the last truly productive season Benjamin put together was in 2017 when he had 567 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Considering the Niners would be on the hook for zero in dead money, if Benjamin is cut, there’s a strong chance the receiver never makes the 53-man roster.