4 first-year 49ers who could steal starting jobs in 2021

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Ambry Thomas, Michigan Wolverines
Ambry Thomas #1 of the Michigan Wolverines (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

49ers Rookie No. 2: CB Ambry Thomas

On the surface, it appears as if San Francisco has its starting trio of cornerbacks set for 2021: Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams and Emmanuel Moseley.

While Verrett and Williams have injury concerns, let’s preliminarily assume both stay healthy for this season. Should that be the case, there’s still a chance the 49ers’ other third-round rookie, Michigan‘s Ambry Thomas, winds up stealing the No. 2 boundary cornerback role over a player like Moseley.

Moseley has already bounced on and off the Niners’ starting lineup the last two years, so he’s not necessarily locked in as a starter this season.

Thomas, meanwhile, had his share of growing pains during OTAs, which isn’t uncommon for first-year defensive backs. Especially in Thomas’ case, considering he opted out of his senior season in light of the pandemic. There are going to be some developmental challenges and struggles, yet one shouldn’t question the 6-foot, 183-pound cornerback’s confidence:

Thomas made a name for himself as a press-man corner at the college level, and that’s one of the predicted scheme changes under first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

Perhaps this is how Thomas solidifies himself as a first-year starter, possibly seizing the role over someone like Moseley in the process.