49ers roster 2021: What’s Trent Sherfield’s role this season?

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Trent Sherfield (16) Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Trent Sherfield (16) Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images /

The 49ers grabbed former Cardinals wide receiver Trent Sherfield as a free agent this offseason, but his 2021 projection is somewhat hard to assess.

Fans probably weren’t jumping up and down when the San Francisco 49ers inked former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Trent Sherfield to a one-year, $920,000 free-agent deal during the offseason.

After losing one of their more productive wideouts, Kendrick Bourne, to free agency early during the 2021 offseason, going after Sherfield certainly appeared like a downgrade.

Indeed, the Niners do have depth questions about the position behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. And now Sherfield, a player with just 28 receptions for 340 yards and a touchdown over his three-year NFL career, finds himself in the middle of a lot of potential candidates for the No. 3 spot at the position on the depth chart.

Yet Sherfield could have potentially been buried on Arizona’s depth chart, possibly not having the opportunity to showcase his offensive talents and instead being relegated primarily to special teams duties.

Trent Sherfield Receiving Table

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Generated 7/12/2021.

San Francisco certainly is hoping for the latter, and Sherfield will be given plenty of chances to ascend the depth chart with the hopes of making the regular-season 53-man roster.

Whether or not he can, though, will be an open-ended question from now, through training camp and into the preseason.

Why Trent Sherfield latches on with 49ers in 2021

At 6-foot-1 and 219 pounds, Sherfield’s build isn’t that much different from Bourne. And with three years of 400-plus yards of production each season at Vanderbilt shows Sherfield can assume a large-scale role on offense.

And while Bourne was productive, Sherfield arguably has better game speed, certainly having flashed it with a solid 4.45 40-yard time during his 2018 pro day.

The Cardinals made him an undrafted free-agent signing that year, and he fell out of favor on offense in year two but still remained a quality special teams gunner during his time in Arizona.

So, if Sherfield isn’t going to be contributing a lot on offense, there’s still room for him to be a solid offseason addition on special teams, increasing his chances of hanging around into 2021.

Why Trent Sherfield flames out with 49ers in 2021

There isn’t anything overly flashy to Sherfield’s game. Over his limited chances on offense the last three years, nothing particularly stood out about his route-running, and he didn’t exactly flash the strength and physicality of a solid third-down possession-type receiver — the ideal mold of Bourne, whom Sherfield could potentially replace.

It’s also going to be tough for Sherfield to separate himself from many of the other names on the 49ers’ offseason roster.

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While Aiyuk and Samuel are safe, and assuming the Niners keep a max of six wideouts, Sherfield will be vying for training camp snaps against other top candidates like Mohamed Sanu, Jauan Jennings, Travis Benjamin, Richie James, Kevin White, Austin Watkins and others.

That’s a lot of bodies. Even if Sherfield impresses, he’ll have to outperform plenty of other wideouts.

Chances of making 49ers’ 53-man roster

With $200,000 in guaranteed money on his one-year deal, Sherfield seems to be on the stronger side of the bubble, commanding more financial reasons why he sticks around in comparison to players like Sanu.

But Sanu and Jennings were two of the bigger wide-receiving depth standouts during organized team activities, whereas Sherfield appeared relatively “stuck in the middle” when painted in contrast to many of the other names here.

As such, Sherfield can’t be considered a lock at all and will have to make some additional strides during camp and the preseason.

Yet here is where Sherfield could make a positive impression, both on special teams and as a No. 5 or No. 6 wide receiver on the roster, potentially backing up either Sanu and/or Jennings as a backup big-bodied slot or someone who could be used in special packages.

Right now, Sherfield is probably WR6 on a six-man wide receiver depth chart.

If San Francisco keeps that many, Sherfield is likely safe.

Next. 5 Niners who show off the most during 2021 training camp. dark