While the 49ers were forced to field a lot of backups and reserves last year, roster changes and additions mean these three will see reduced roles in 2021.
The 2020 San Francisco 49ers were unfortunate in many ways to be forced to play a lot of players a lot more than they were anticipated.
This, because of the unusual and almost unpredictable rash of injuries the team suffered over the course of the season. Starters ended up missing large chunks of time, third-string backups ended up getting the bulk of snaps and so on.
Case in point, now-Seattle Seahawks EDGE Kerry Hyder was on San Francisco’s roster bubble entering training camp a year ago. Thanks to season-ending injuries to starting EDGEs Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, though, Hyder ended up leading the 49ers with 8.5 sacks in 2021.
All this convinced general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan of two things heading into 2021. First, they needed to ensure the team’s depth was solid enough to overcome whatever injuries might happen this upcoming season. Second, perhaps most importantly, they needed to bring in players with a better track record of health.
It happens every offseason, but new faces ultimately mean some returning players will go from would-be starters to backups and role players.
Particularly in the Niners’ case when the bulk of second- and third-string units were forced into primary roles a year ago. Backups are important. But they’re not exactly the caliber of players expected to push a team into the playoffs.
With regards to many of San Francisco’s offseason moves, let’s take a deeper look at which players could end up seeing reduced roles in 2021 and why.