49ers NFL Draft 2021: Predicting each rookie’s role, spot on depth chart
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers brought home eight players via the 2021 NFL Draft, yet each will assume different roles and spots on the depth chart this season.
The San Francisco 49ers‘ top pick from the 2021 NFL Draft isn’t expected to start right away.
North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, whom the Niners traded up to No. 3 overall to select in Round 1, could possibly enter an open competition with the team’s starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, during training camp.
But until otherwise determined, the job is still Garoppolo’s to lose, as San Francisco takes the long approach with Lance and hopes to develop him slowly.
Because of this, some of the 49ers’ other seven drafted players from 2021 could end up seeing substantially more field time this upcoming season and have notably larger roles. Nothing wrong with that, but it sure makes for an interesting watchpoint when training camp and a (hopeful) preseason both roll around later this summer.
Let’s take a look at each rookie the Niners selected and offer up some predictions for what his role will be and where on the depth chart he’ll fall this upcoming season.
No. 1: 49ers QB Trey Lance
San Francisco isn’t in a rush to start Lance. After all, he only started one game in 2020 before COVID-19 shut down the Bisons’ season, meaning his lone full year as a starter was back in 2019.
It’ll take time to both knock the proverbial “rust” off Lance’s game, while it could also take some serious time for Lance to understand and master head coach Kyle Shanahan’s complex offense.
Lance was widely viewed as the rawest of any of the first-round quarterbacks to be targeted in this year’s draft, and adding on Shanahan’s complicated scheme only mandates the 49ers be patient here. Plus, with such a risky investment for a prospect, the Niners would be wise to see Lance develop accordingly, knowing full well they can still win with a healthy Garoppolo, as was shown in 2019.
While Shanahan won’t hesitate to give Lance the reins sooner if the quarterback is ready earlier than anticipated, the likelihood to kick off 2021 is for the rookie to be holding the clipboard on the sidelines.