What is the 49ers' weakest position heading into 2023?

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward (7)
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward (7) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The 49ers boast a Super Bowl-caliber roster this season, but no team is perfect. Let's take a look at the biggest flaw(s).

The most experienced San Francisco 49ers quarterback on the 2023 roster could easily wind up beint the third-string option behind two others who have a combined nine regular-season starts at the NFL level.

This is the context for Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft who finds himself likely supporting younger quarterbacks in Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, the latter two likely to battle it out for the QB1 role for head coach Kyle Shanahan this season.

The Niners' ongoing quarterback saga won't end anytime soon, and some may argue that's the biggest team weakness. After all, if San Francisco had clarity at the position, it would be one less X-factor to worry about in light of a roster that's otherwise stacked on both sides of the ball.

However, on the flip side, one might argue the 49ers have three quarterbacks -- Purdy, Lance and Darnold -- who'd be capable of starting this season.

Thank you, Kay Adams.

The Niners' uncertainty at quarterback might be a concern, but it's probably not a weakness. Purdy alone showed he's capable of leading Shanahan's offense to good things, which resulted in the team making it to the NFC Championship game last season.

So, if it's not at quarterback? What position is San Francisco's biggest weakness entering 2023?

Which 49ers position is the weakest entering 2023?

There are probably three positions that could warrant some notable worries this season, both in terms of starting-caliber options and depth, or the lack thereof in both spots.

Right tackle is a worry, as a perennial backup in Colton McKivitz is being asked to take over for now-Denver Broncos right tackle Mike McGlinchey. And while that's a legitimate concern, the folks over at Pro Football Focus actually looked on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage as the biggest worry for Shanahan and Co.

According to PFF, it's the interior of the defensive line that's concerning despite the 49ers' big-ticket free-agent pickup of defensive tackle Javon Hargrave this offseason:

"Hargrave will certainly offer a big boost to the pass rush, but he doesn’t solve the issues exposed by the Eagles on run defense. The 49ers should be on the lookout for more beef up front capable of holding up on early downs in order to free up the thoroughbreds on passing downs."

Read More: 3 burning questions already facing 49ers roster in 2023

Depth is somewhat thin on the interior, although the Niners can expect defensive tackles Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw back after both suffered elongated injuries last season. Plus, considering San Francisco has long focused on the pass rush over its secondary, perhaps cornerback is a bit more of a worry.

While ESPN's Mike Clay didn't exactly rank the 49ers' cornerback room as the worst positional unit on the team this year, that particular group didn't exactly rank high against the rest of the NFL either:

No. 1 cornerback Charvarius Ward is fine. No questions there. After him, though, things get a bit shakier.

The Niners said goodbye to Emmanuel Moseley and Jimmie Ward in free agency, and it appears now as if Deommodore Lenoir and another free-agent pickup, Isaiah Oliver, will replace Moseley on the boundary and Ward at nickel, respectively.

Those aren't upgrades, in case anyone was wondering.

Meanwhile, rookie cornerback Darrell Luter Jr. was selected by San Francisco in Round 5 of the NFL Draft, and he has some promising upside. But, just like all first-year players, Luter is going to experience rookie-year pains and should have his expectations tempered to those of a day-three draft pick who'll simply struggle to make the 53-man roster.

So, is it cornerback or the interior of the D-line that's most concerning?

For my money, probably the former. The 49ers may be thin, at least in terms of depth, for their D-line. But they have legitimate starters in Hargrave and Armstead, and even a (hopefully) resurgent Kinlaw can make a positive difference.

Aside from Charvarius Ward, the cornerback room is far less proven.

One can only hope the Niners' focus of a D-line first will pay off one more time.

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