Injuries have forced the SF 49ers this season to rely heavily on depth, yet that’s also opened up the door for these reserves to be featured.
In 2019, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and left guard Laken Tomlinson were the SF 49ers‘ only two first-team players to start all 16 regular-season games. And in 2020, only nose tackle D.J. Jones, defensive end Arik Armstead and linebacker Fred Warner have been fully healthy and have made each one of their starts over the Niners’ seven games played this season.
Needless to say, injuries have played a massive role in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s prospects to get back to the Super Bowl. And some could argue, should San Francisco miss out on the chance, injuries can bear the brunt of the blame.
But if there’s a silver lining behind all those injury setbacks the SF 49ers have dealt with, it’s the added chances for Shanahan to get some much-needed evaluation time for players buried deeper on the depth chart.
In many cases, those players have risen to the occasion.
The Niners need to take a closer look at these depth-chart players over the final nine games of the season and potentially into the playoffs. With cap considerations at hand, along with many pending free agents, getting that evaluatory chance to see who might be worth inserting into a bigger role in 2021 and beyond will be vital for Shanahan to maintain some roster continuity while also giving other players chances to shine down the stretch.
San Francisco saw what some of its depth players could do in its upset win over the New England Patriots in Week 7.
Not surprisingly, let’s start off with a player who shined in that game and needs to see more field time when he can, running back Jeff Wilson.