49ers roster: Top position battles to watch after NFL Draft

San Francisco 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley (82) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley (82) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /
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The 49ers made some provocative moves in the 2023 NFL Draft, meaning there’ll be some heightened competition at various positions entering training camp.

The San Francisco 49ers entered the 2023 NFL Draft with 11 total picks, eight of which came on day three of the draft that covered Rounds 4 through 7.

Considering the Niners’ Super Bowl-caliber roster, general manager John Lynch didn’t have 11 roster spots to fill.

Lynch traded up in Round 3, however, which essentially cost San Francisco two selections, bringing the total of drafted players down to nine:

  • Round 3, No. 87 overall: DB Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State
  • Round 3, No. 99 overall: K Jake Moody, Michigan
  • Round 3, No. 101 overall: TE Cameron Latu, Alabama
  • Round 5, No. 155 overall: CB Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama
  • Round 5, No. 173 overall: EDGE Robert Beal Jr., Georgia
  • Round 6, No. 216 overall: LB Dee Winters, TCU
  • Round 7, No. 247 overall: TE Brayden Willis, Oklahoma
  • Round 7, No. 253 overall: WR Ronnie Bell, Michigan
  • Round 7, No. 255 overall: LB Jalen Graham, Purdue

Not all of these players will make the 49ers’ 53-man roster by Week 1. Others, however, could actually push returning veterans off the roster entirely.

Needless to say, offseason programs and training camp will be notably impacted by the Niners’ recent class of first-year pros added via the draft.

Now, let’s look at what we’d project to be the top position battles to play out later this spring and summer when San Francisco gets back on the field but with its 2023 NFL Draft class now in the fray.

49ers position battle to watch: Tight end

Players in the fray: Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner, Cameron Latu, Brayden Willis

No one is going to challenge All-Pro George Kittle for the No. 1 tight end on the roster, but deciding who backs him up is open for discussion.

Latu was also something of a surprise pickup in Round 3, and he’s a project with a ton of upside if developed correctly. Willis, meanwhile, is an H-back kind of player who is awfully versatile but doesn’t necessarily excel in any one particular area.

Would either be an upgrade over incumbent tight ends like Ross Dwelley and Charlie Woerner?

Woerner has seemingly been the favorite over Dwelley, at least in terms of snap count the last two years, but he’s still a back-end-of-the-roster type of player, too.

Grabbing two tight ends from an awfully deep class at the position suggests the 49ers are wholly open to completely overhauling the tight end depth chart behind Kittle.