The 49ers have 11 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft but don’t have that many roster holes to fill, meaning some players will ultimately have to go.
The San Francisco 49ers don’t have to focus too much on making widespread upgrades up and down the roster via the 2023 NFL Draft.
No, in fact, general manager John Lynch and Co. only have a handful of holes to fill. And, of their 11 total picks in the draft, most can probably be used to merely supplement the depth chart and add reserves.
That said, with new faces entering what’d be a 90-man offseason roster, it’s going to be tougher for those returnees on the fringes to survive cuts and make the 53-man roster by the time Week 1 rolls around.
While these five players’ fates are still very much undetermined, they are ultimately tied to what happens in the draft and likely will find themselves off San Francisco’s roster at some point soon as a direct result.
49ers RB Tyrion Davis-Price
In 2021, the 49ers used a third-round draft pick on Ohio State tailback Trey Sermon. After a disappointing rookie year in which he netted a mere 167 rush yards, the Niners dismissed Sermon but effectively repeated the same mistake by drafting LSU‘s Tyrion Davis-Price in Round 3 of the 2022 draft.
Davis-Price managed just 99 yards on 34 carries.
Now looking up the depth chart at fellow rushers like Jordan Mason, Elijah Mitchell and the All-Pro, Christian McCaffrey, Davis-Price could be phased out even if San Francisco simply adds a promising undrafted free agent at the position.
49ers OL Jaylon Moore
Since being drafted back in Round 5 of the 2021 NFL Draft, offensive lineman Jaylon Moore has seemingly watched his stock value drop for the 49ers.
Once considered a strong candidate to be a swing tackle, at the very minimum, Moore now seems to be out of the running to take over at right tackle for now-Denver Broncos lineman Mike McGlinchey, and that job appears to be heading toward Moore’s teammate, Colton McKivitz.
Recently signed free-agent lineman Matt Pryor is also in the mix.
At the bottom of the depth chart, Moore’s spot on the roster could be in serious jeopardy if the Niners do what they’re expected to do and add an offensive lineman or two via this year’s draft.
49ers CB Ambry Thomas
Late in 2021, then-rookie cornerback Ambry Thomas was showing enough improvement to suggest he could possibly be a starter the following year.
It didn’t happen. Thomas struggled in training camp and was all but demoted to special teams duties only. Even in the wake of San Francisco losing starting cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to a season-ending ACL tear in Week 5, Thomas nevertheless finished the year by seeing only 41 defensive snaps. It was his fellow 2021 rookie teammate, Deommodore Lenoir, who assumed Moseley’s spot on defense.
The 49ers still have that void with Moseley gone to the Detroit Lions, but Lenoir or another up-and-coming rookie figure to be well ahead of Thomas on the depth chart.
Not good news for the latter.
49ers WR Danny Gray
Unlike Davis-Price, the Niners’ other Round 3 selection in the 2022 draft generated some buzz: wide receiver Danny Gray.
Gray might not be an all-around workhorse, but he has speed. And that figured to be a key element in opening up head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Heck, even a strong preseason convinced many a fan that San Francisco got a steal in Gray.
His regular-season stat line of one catch on seven targets for 10 yards suggests otherwise, though.
The 49ers already have Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud soundly ahead of Gray on the depth chart, while the free-agent pickup of Chris Conley only makes Gray’s hold on a spot more precarious.
If the Niners add another speedy receiver in the draft, it’s bad news.
49ers DL Alex Barrett
Defensive lineman Alex Barrett is easy to root for if you like underdogs.
Unfortunately for him, he’s on a Niners team that boasts plenty of D-line talent in EDGE Nick Bosa, defensive tackle Arik Armstead, newly acquired defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and plenty of other notable names.
Barrett might have stayed around in the wake of San Francisco losing defensive ends Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu in free agency. However, after the 49ers onboarded Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell shortly thereafter, Barrett is right back where he started as a fringe member of the team.
Should the Niners continue their positive habit of reinforcing the D-line, Barrett might end up being the first to go.