49ers depth chart: 3 starting jobs (somewhat) up for grabs in 2024

One of the bonuses of being a Super Bowl-contending team is there are relatively few first-team jobs available for the taking.

Yet these three spots could be up for grabs for the Niners in 2024.

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp
San Francisco 49ers Training Camp / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The 49ers don't have a lot of starting jobs open for competition, but these three could be interesting heading into 2024.

The San Francisco 49ers retained 18 of their 22 offensive and defensive starters from a year ago.

That means the overwhelming bulk of their offseason transactions, both via free agency and in April's NFL Draft, weren't intended to find immediate-impact starters on both sides of the ball. Instead, most of the moves by general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were meant to find quality depth pieces, backups and future impact players.

However, there are a handful of starting gigs that could potentially be had in 2024.

No. 1: Right guard

The Niners have a bit of a fluid situation at right guard heading into offseason workouts. A year ago, veteran journeyman Jon Feliciano took over starting duties for the second half of the season amid the younger Spencer Burford failed to lock down the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.

Currently, in OTAs, Feliciano is handling first-team center duties while Jake Brendel is dealing with knee tendonitis, leaving Burford to contend with the drafted rookie, Dominick Puni, for a possible starting job.

If Brendel returns healthy in time for training camp, the likelihood is for Feliciano to resume his right guard spot, leaving Burford and Puni to battle it out for a backup role.

However, should Brendel miss significant time, right guard would be fully up for grabs.

No. 2: Safety

San Francisco has mostly shifted away from its single-high safety deployment, employing a more traditional two-deep safety look where both free and strong safeties are more interchangeable.

After not re-signing their starting free safety from the last two years, Tashaun Gipson, the 49ers effectively have four options for two spots: Ji'Ayir Brown, George Odum, rookie Malik Mustapha and the All-Pro, Talanoa Hufanga, who is returning from a torn ACL suffered halfway through the 2023 campaign.

Brown is a cornerstone piece of the secondary for years to come and is equipped to play free safety, while Hufanga is much more effective as a box safety.

But the Niners could opt to shake things up here, too, perhaps looking to the future with Brown, as Hufanga is entering a contract year and coming off that serious injury.

No. 3: Boundary cornerback

San Francisco has two of its three starting cornerbacks all but set entering 2024: Charvarius Ward on one boundary and Deommodore Lenoir playing nickel.

It's a pretty open-ended competition for the No. 2 boundary corner spot, however.

Related story: 2 position battles to watch as 49ers get closer to training camp

There are three names in the mix here, not including Lenoir, who can also double on the outside but remains a top option to cover the slot: Isaac Yiadom, Rock Ya-Sin and the second-round rookie, Renardo Green.

Yiadom, who was grabbed on a one-year free-agent deal, appears to be the favorite to start, while the 49ers aim to develop Green as a backup nickel first before likely giving him a more prominent role in 2025.

That said, this spot within the secondary remains fluid and should be one of the more provocative position battles to watch between now and Week 1.

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