Have the 49ers given up on Ronnie Bell after just one season?

It's going to be tough for Ronnie Bell to make a name for himself in 2024.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Ronnie Bell (10)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Ronnie Bell (10) / Robin Alam/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Ronnie Bell had some flashes his rookie year, but the context might not be there for him to make much of an impact in 2024.

There was an argument the San Francisco 49ers identified and selected yet another late-round hidden gem of a pick when they selected former Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell in Round 7 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Despite going in the final round, the 6-foot-0 and 190-pound Bell was coming off a fantastic 2022 collegiate campaign in which he had a career-best 62 receptions for 889 yards and four touchdowns, suggesting he could play a solid reserve role within the Niners offense right away.

At times, it seemed as if Bell would do this.

Bell made a serious impact during San Francisco's Week 3 win over the New York Giants, hauling in his first pro-level touchdown from quarterback Brock Purdy, one of two catches the rookie had for 24 yards.

But it wasn't much of a sign of things to come.

Wrapping up 2023, Bell finished with a mere six catches on the year for 68 yards and two more touchdowns, the bulk of his targets coming in a meaningless Week 18 game when the 49ers were resting the majority of their offensive starters. And, while Bell did make a small impact on special teams as a punt returner, his efforts were shaky at best.

Now, heading into year two, it might be tough for Bell to carve out a niche role for himself on the Niners' regular-season roster.

Ronnie Bell faces an uphill climb to make 49ers' 53-man roster in 2024

What Bell did in college won't matter much now. And the prospects for him surviving roster cuts to hang around into Week 1 and beyond just got tougher, thanks to an already stacked San Francisco receiving corps that just got reinforced even more during the offseason.

Bell was already looking up the depth chart at wideouts like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings, while fellow receivers like Chris Conley and Danny Gray were in the mix to round out the position.

Each of those names are still rostered in 2024, yet the 49ers added two more names to the fray via the NFL Draft last April, first-rounder Ricky Pearsall and the day-three selection, Jacob Cowing.

Pearsall is all but guaranteed to make the 53-man roster, while Samuel, Aiyuk and Jennings are going to be there, too.

Assuming the Niners keep no more than six wide receivers, Bell will face some stiff competition against the likes of Cowing, Conley, Gray and Trent Taylor, the latter returning to the Bay Area as a potential punt returner.

Cowing might have the edge over Bell, too, which means the second-year pro has to beat out Conley, Gray and Taylor by a significant margin during training camp.

Otherwise, it might be a "one and done" case for the once-promising Bell, who might simply end up being a victim of the numbers game.

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