49ers roster: Predicting 2022 starting offensive lineup

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Wide Receivers: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings

Based on multiple reports throughout the entire offseason, and Deebo Samuel‘s appearance at mandatory minicamp, San Francisco will head into the season with the 2021 All-Pro on the active roster.

Hopefully, the contract situation will be sorted out by then.

If Samuel’s return can be set in stone, it sets a rather mundane hierarchy of receivers. He is the 49ers’ best receiver, a wrecking ball of a man capable of bowling over any defender. Likely to acquiesce to some of his more reasonable demands, the Niners will use Samuel as a traditional receiver the majority of the time.

Brandon Aiyuk is the second-best receiver, one of the few players to have gone through the Kyle Shanahan doghouse and come out still on the team. His performance during the second half of last season, and his seeming rapport with Trey Lance, seem to indicate only good things to come from this partnership.

It’s a formidable one-two combination, one that at least Samuel thinks is the best returning partnership in the league:

After the top two, things become less structured.

As is seemingly becoming a theme, San Francisco uses players very situationally, and that includes the latter half of receivers. Jauan Jenning has been receiving rave reviews in OTAs, and his status as the primary third receiver, as a type of “big slot,” is basically locked in stone. But that does not mean it’ll be a clear-cut hierarchy.

Last year, Shanahan ran out the likes of Mohamed Sanu and Travis Benjamin to get different looks and utilize different skills. Now, he has rookie third-round pick Danny Gray, a receiver with legitimate speed who’ll look to stretch the defense, and signee Ray-Ray McCloud, a shifty diminutive receiver capable of making a play with the ball in his hands.

These three receivers will be utilized depending on the game script, leaving Jennings more of a nominal third receiver.