49ers roster: These 3 rookies could start right away in 2022

Linebacker Drake Jackson #99 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Linebacker Drake Jackson #99 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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The 49ers may have to rely heavily on their 2022 NFL Draft class and subsequent undrafted free agents, meaning these three might have to start right away.

When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance was selected at No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, the seemingly full intent was for him to marinate a full year as a backup behind veteran signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo.

That’s usually not the trajectory for a first-round draft pick, yet the Niners had the luxury of making such a move at the time. In fact, San Francisco’s first four picks of that year’s draft didn’t make much of an impact right out of the gate in year one.

This might not be the case in 2022, however.

The 49ers didn’t have a first-round pick, of course, thanks to last year’s trade-up for Lance. But they did come away with nine total selections, including six on day three of the draft. While the road to a starting job is always more difficult for prospects selected between Rounds 4 and 7, and then even exceptionally tougher for undrafted free agents, the state of the Niners roster is such that there will be starting opportunities available.

Of the bunch, there are three first-year players who appear to stand the best chance of starting this upcoming 2022 season. Perhaps that player simply offers up the possibility of higher playmaking ability than others, whereas the depth chart might just be a bit thin.

At any rate, let’s take a look at these three San Francisco rookies and break down why each could easily wind up being named a starter by the time Week 1 rolls around.