The 49ers are likely done with their offseason workouts until training camp, but we still don’t have clear-cut answers regarding these five position bouts.
The San Francisco 49ers have only a handful of starting jobs up for grabs heading into the upcoming 2022 regular season.
One of them is at center in the wake of Pro Bowl veteran Alex Mack calling it a career. Yet to assume this is a wide-open position battle heading towards training camp might be a bit of folly. After all, it appears as if the Niners are poised to hand the starting job to Mack’s primary backup last year, journeyman Jake Brendel.
At least that’s how things appeared during organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, which wrapped up this week. And if there’s a big takeaway from Brendel’s work with the first-team unit, it’s his job to lose.
Not too big of a position battle there.
There are, however, plenty of other position and depth-chart battles to tack on the list of must-watch items heading into training camp, and we’ll preview five of them right here.
49ers position battle No. 5: Fourth wide receiver
After that, though, it’s anyone’s guess.
Usually, figuring out fourth and fifth wideouts on the depth chart is meaningless work, outside of the coaches needing to do so, but it could be vital considering the role head coach Kyle Shanahan likely envisions for this spot.
A fourth wide receiver needs to be the field-stretcher, the vertical threat who can take a top off a defense on various plays, and the 49ers haven’t exactly had an effective one since Marquise Goodwin back in 2018.
The Niners did draft former SMU wideout Danny Gray, whose 4.33 40-yard speed was supposed to ignite this need, thereby opening things up underneath for Samuel and Aiyuk. Yet Gray has been sidelined with a hamstring injury during recent practices, meaning veteran free-agent pickup Ray-Ray McCloud has had the chance to both shine and get behind San Francisco’s secondary in many a practice.
McCloud’s ascent might not mean the premature end of Gray in a 49ers uniform, of course, but it could easily diminish the rookie’s role this season.
That’ll be something to watch.