49ers roster: 4 third-year players facing make-or-break season in 2022

Javon Kinlaw #99 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Javon Kinlaw #99 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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JaMycal Hasty, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back JaMycal Hasty (23) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers are in need of some younger players to make a big leap as they enter year three of their pro careers, particularly these four.

It’s OK for rookies to struggle early in their respective NFL careers. The adjustments from the college level to the pros are complex and difficult, and not every player’s transition takes the same course.

By year two, some players can go through the proverbial “sophomore slump,” failing to replicate the urgency displayed during a rookie season.

In year three, however, a player needs to fully show his value.

The San Francisco 49ers have a number of third-year players entering crucial campaigns in 2022. Some will be looking to carve out bigger roles after showing a modest amount of promise over the last two seasons. Others, however, need to prove they’re capable of justifying the Niners’ initial investment in them.

With San Francisco’s Super Bowl window open now, these four third-year players need to step up and have high-quality seasons in 2022.

No. 4: 49ers running back JaMycal Hasty

Usually, former undrafted free agents don’t have lofty expectation levels at any point early in their respective careers, so it might be a safe assumption to say running back JaMycal Hasty has already exceeded what the 49ers originally expected out of him.

Hasty hasn’t exactly been a featured part of the Niners offense, but in some regards his 2021 campaign surpassed his rookie season. Even though Hasty’s 2021 rush yards dropped 148 the year before to just 68 over three more games played, the fact the former Baylor product tacked on 157 receiving yards and enjoyed a (brief) career-best 225 yards from scrimmage.

Again, nothing great. But improvement.

The reason all this matters is because Hasty could vastly climb the depth chart this offseason, particularly with veteran running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. poised to depart via free agency.

Should that happen, Hasty would be in the company of two other 2021 rookies, Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon, but will need to carve out a more important role.

Especially if San Francisco adds more bodies in the backfield, which it likely will.

Should Hasty want to avoid being the odd man out at any point, he’ll have to take that next-level leap in 2022.