San Francisco 49ers: Predicting 5 surprises for 53-man roster

Ahkello Witherspoon #23 of the San Francisco 49ers with Dontae Johnson #36 (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Ahkello Witherspoon #23 of the San Francisco 49ers with Dontae Johnson #36 (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Chris Finke, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Chris Finke #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The 49ers don’t appear to have too many holes on their roster heading into 2020. But there’s always room for a shocker here and there.

For the most part, one should easily be able to predict the majority of the San Francisco 49ers‘ 53-man roster upon Week 1 in the upcoming 2020 season.

There are a few open spots up for grabs, yes, namely at wide receiver, cornerback, the offensive and defensive lines. But for the most part, probably 17 or 18 of last year’s 22-player starting cast should end up reverting back to their original roles we saw when the Niners played in Super Bowl LIV.

Yet there are always shockers on a year-to-year basis.

Case in point, veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith was pushed off the team’s roster a year ago in favor of the younger, cheaper Dre Greenlaw. That move worked out well for San Francisco, and Greenlaw is now a vital part of the team’s defense.

Admittedly, these are five separate possibilities here. They won’t necessarily happen in unison, and it’s possible none or perhaps one occurs, at most.

So, if there are some would-be shockers for the 49ers’ 53-man roster in Week 1, what could they possibly be?

No. 5: 49ers name Chris Finke as a return specialist

Wide receiver Chris Finke, an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, was probably a long shot to make the roster given the sheer number of bodies the Niners had at the position. He did, however, boast some return capabilities in college, though, adding to his potential prowess on special teams.

And if he ends up making the cut, that’s how.

San Francisco has a number of other potential returners. Last year, wide receiver Richie James served in this role. Defensive back D.J. Reed also has performed such duties, too. But both players are out with injury and are in danger of missing the first few weeks of the season, opening the door for a player like Finke to stand out in training camp.

Finke will have to showcase his value above other potential returns, namely wide receivers Trent Taylor and Dante Pettis. But if head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to save those two for the offense, Finke’s best shot might come simply because there aren’t any other notables left.