49ers roster: 5 players who should be in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Richie James, 49ers
Wide receiver Richie James #13 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

No. 1: 49ers Wide Receiver Richie James

Fourth-year wide receiver Richie James has never been a Kyle Shanahan favorite, at least on offense.

Despite flashing moments where he looked like he’d be a bona fide contributor, James has scantly seen this phase of the game. Yes, Shanahan has used James when there were few other options available, such as the 2020 Thursday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers.

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For the most part, though, James has almost exclusively been used as a return specialist. Little more.

James survived the 49ers’ first two waves of roster cuts, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of Shanahan’s doghouse. During training camp, James was reportedly dealing with a number of drops during drills, and those have carried over into his preseason efforts, too. According to Pro Football Focus, James has already been credited with three drops.

Granted, it’s been a problem for a number of other Niners wideouts. But given James’ precarious hold on a roster spot amid a crop of other possibilities on the depth chart, there’s a good chance Shanahan has already lost patience.

It’s likely James only makes the regular-season squad if there are no other options in the return game. But if San Francisco identifies someone who can take over this role, James is probably going to find himself elsewhere by the time Week 1 rolls around.

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