49ers post-OTA 53-man roster predictions for 2021

San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (5) and Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (5) and Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /
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SF 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Wide Receivers (6)

WR Deebo Samuel

WR Brandon Aiyuk

WR Jalen Hurd

WR Richie James

WR Trent Sherfield

WR Travis Benjamin

As previously noted, this position is one of the more interesting ones on the entirety of the team.

The top two are easy. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk didn’t share many snaps last season due to injuries, but the 49ers will hope they’ll be able to create havoc on opposing defenses throughout the 2021 campaign.

After that, the only appropriate response is that shrug emoji, because the rest of the unit could go in a variety of ways that wouldn’t be a major surprise.

Part of the issue is that none of the rest of the players at the position stand out as obvious No. 3 options, which is really what Kyle Shanahan and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel will be looking for once training camp starts.

The sight-unseen, wishful-thinking money should be on 2019 third-round draft pick Jalen Hurd, who has yet to see the field in a regular-season game due to a back issue his rookie year and an ACL tear during training camp last season. If he’s healthy, Shanahan and McDaniel will find a way to incorporate Hurd, who has the massive size and good ball skills to create mismatches, especially in the slot.

Richie James has been with the team since they drafted him in 2018 but has never shown enough consistency to be counted upon as the No. 3 guy but should make the team for his experience as a return man and for depth.

Trent Sherfield is here mostly as a special teams ace since the other players the 49ers could use in that position are locked in at starting positions elsewhere. He has just 28 catches in 44 career games, so he’s likely not going to be counted on as more than that.

The last spot is likely going to come down to a veteran with experience in Shanahan’s offensive scheme, meaning either Travis Benjamin, who opted out in 2020, or Mohamad Sanu, who was with the 49ers for three games last season, catching one pass for 9 yards.

For now, the nod goes to Benjamin for the one thing he provides that the team doesn’t have as much of as the position: deep-ball speed. But it could just as easily be Sanu if he performs well in training camp.