While the 49ers have a relatively stacked veteran roster entering 2022, these three returning players could lose their starting bids to first-year players this season.
It’s always tough for a rookie to join the ranks of a good team and automatically crack the starting lineup. Even if that rookie is a high-profile first-round NFL Draft pick, the road to earning that No. 1 spot on the depth chart is nevertheless a challenging one.
Case in point, after being selected No. 3 overall last season, quarterback Trey Lance still had to wait a full year before he was presumably embedded as the starter.
However, rookies do push out veterans all the time, and 2022 will offer up the chance for each of the San Francisco 49ers’ nine NFL Draft selections, as well as the 14 undrafted free agents, to have a shot at earning a starter’s job between now and Week 1.
While some have little chance of actually doing so, particularly those taken much later in the draft or signed thereafter, there are some rookies who could easily steal jobs from more established veterans in year one.
That’s the nature of competition. There’s always a player proverbially “looking over your shoulder.” And in the Niners’ case, a number of first-year pros could wind up securing starting bids right away.
Let’s take a look at the situation from some veterans’ perspectives, returning players who may not be poised to start any longer, especially if they wind up losing out on a top spot on the depth chart because of San Francisco’s rookie class.
Particularly these three.