The 49ers have arguably the most complete wide receiver room in 2022 that they’ve had under Kyle Shanahan, but what are the roles going to be?
One could make the argument San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has never had as talented or as deep a wide receiver corps during his tenure with the Niners as the one he’ll employ entering 2022.
It didn’t happen overnight, of course. San Francisco had to draft and adequately develop All-Pro wideout Deebo Samuel while also getting 2020 rookie Brandon Aiyuk out of his sophomore slump early in 2021. The 49ers also had to be patient with fellow 2020 rookie, Jauan Jennings, after he spent his first year in the NFL on the practice squad.
Add in a few more pieces along the way, and it’s not hard to see why Pro Football Focus ranked the Niners’ receiving crop in the “elite” category of NFL teams this season, coming in at No. 6 overall.
That’s just a projection, though. Much of any success San Francisco’s wide receivers will have this season will hinge on production, and that production is dependent largely on each player’s specific role in Shanahan’s offense.
What will those respective roles be? Let’s take a look, starting at the back end of the 90-man offseason depth chart.
49ers wide receivers on the roster bubble
It’s up to Shanahan, but it would be surprising to see the 49ers keep more than six wideouts on their 53-man roster, and even five would be a possibility.
Here are the names who are most likely heading into training camp on the weaker side of the bubble:
- KeeSean Johnson
- Marcus Johnson
- Austin Mack
- Taysir Mack
- Tay Martin
- Malik Turner
The Niners onboarded both Turner and Marcus Johnson as free agents this offseason, and both come with speed and special teams abilities. The latter will have to factor into any chances of surviving roster cuts, but the pro-level experience does bode well and give a leg up over undrafted free agents like Martin and Taysir Mack.
Turner, in particular, made a couple of nice grabs during organized team activities, yet there’s arguably only one spot on the 53-man roster available.
Two, perhaps three of the aforementioned names may be ticketed for the practice squad, but the rest are probably going to be jettisoned outside of the lucky individual who earns a would-be spot No. 6 on the regular-season depth chart.