How Shon Coleman, Travis Benjamin opting out shakes up 49ers depth chart

Shon Coleman #72 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Shon Coleman #72 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Travis Benjamin, Los Angeles Chargers
Travis Benjamin #12 of the Los Angeles Chargers (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

How Travis Benjamin’s Opt-Out Affects 49ers Depth Chart

Shon Coleman was likely on the weaker side of the Niners’ roster bubble, assuming he wouldn’t win the competition with Justin Skule.

Yet Travis Benjamin’s hold on a roster spot increased a lot with the offseason wrist injury suffered by third-year wide receiver Richie James. James, who might not be available for San Francisco when the regular season rolls around, still wasn’t often used by Kyle Shanahan aside from special teams the past two years. But with uncertainty surrounding fourth-year wide receiver Trent Taylor returning from a Jones fracture suffered in his foot last year, the competition for a starting slot receiver role was presumably wide open.

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Benjamin being out of that mix opens things up at a position where there’s not a lot of reliable depth. James is banged up, and second-year pro Deebo Samuel is dealing with a Jones fracture of his own and might not be available for Week 1 either.

That leaves Dante Pettis and Kendrick Bourne as the only reliable veteran options, while rookies Jauan Jennings and Brandon Aiyuk may be asked to assume featured roles much earlier than anticipated.

The following are also in the mix:

  • Jalen Hurd
  • Shawn Poindexter
  • Chris Thompson

Hurd and Poindexter’s big-bodied frames would typically eliminate them from slot duties, although Shanahan has never shied away from using size in this spot. Where things do matter, though, is with the lack of a speedy deep threat. Before Benjamin’s arrival, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin held this role, although his impact on offense wasn’t much felt aside from some moments here and there the past two seasons.

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That might be where the 49ers end up suffering a bit here, both in terms of experience and field-stretching capabilities.