4 biggest concerns from 49ers preseason win vs. Raiders

Trey Sermon #28 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Trey Sermon #28 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
4 of 4
Nsimba Webster, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Nsimba Webster (6) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: 49ers still haven’t identified a return specialist

Well, maybe they have. But it’s not a clear-cut answer.

One of the Niners’ many goals from preseason Week 3 was to find someone who’d be a bona fide return specialist on punts and/or kickoffs, yet the game against the Raiders only reinforced the idea there were still just “possibilities.”

More from Niner Noise

Running back Elijah Mitchell impressed with a 45-yard kickoff return, and that should help his roster chances. But gaffes on offense could end up making him a cut candidate, too. Travis Benjamin’s head injury could thwart his roster chances and abilities as a punt returner in the immediate future, while wide receiver River Cracraft was only recently readded back to the roster in the wake of Richie James being waived.

Related Story: 49ers return duties wide open with Richie James out

A year ago, San Francisco had an average starting field position on their own 27.4-yard line, which ranked 25th best in the NFL. While there were a lot of factors going into that metric, the lack of a dynamic return specialist certainly carried a lot of weight.

And despite the 49ers offense being expected to improve dramatically over last year’s injury-riddled numbers, getting some quality return efforts on a week-to-week basis will still be vital.

Like many positions on the roster, the primary returner for both kickoffs and punts is still yet to be determined.

Next. 4 Niners whose roster value took a hit vs. Raiders. dark