Way-too-early 49ers 53-man roster projection for 2024

The first wave of free agency is over and the draft is still a month away, but that doesn't mean we can't take a stab at who will eventually make the 49ers' initial 53-man roster in September.

Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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Brock Purdy
NFC Championship - Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

49ers offense

Quarterbacks (3)

QB Brock Purdy

QB Brandon Allen

QB Josh Dobbs

This is a pretty simple group. Brock Purdy had a breakout season in 2023, finishing among the finalists for the NFL MVP award and leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth in his first full season as a starter.

The only question left to answer is whether or not he can continue to produce and how that will impact the Niners moving forward. But that's a concern for another day. For 2024, Purdy is the starting signal-caller.

From there, it seems like Brandon Allen, who the 49ers re-signed before free agency began, has the best chance to make the step up from QB3 to QB2 because of his experience in the offense last season.

Newly signed free agent Josh Dobbs shouldn't be counted out, however, given that he spent the second half of 2023 with the Minnesota Vikings, who run an offense not too dissimilar to the one featured in San Francisco under head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Because of the emergency quarterback rule implemented last year, the distinction will have to be made between the two. But at this point, it's hard to discount Allen's experience with the team, so he gets the nod for now.

Running backs (4)

HB Christian McCaffrey

HB Elijah Mitchell

HB Jordan Mason

FB Kyle Juszcyzk

Not a lot of surprises here, at least for now.

Christian McCaffrey is coming off an NFL Offensive Player of the Year-winning season and will look to continue to improve in his second full season in Shanahan's offense.

Kyle Juszczyk restructured his contract to help save some cap space, so he figures to be around for a few more seasons, as the restructure essential functions as a two-year extension.

Beyond that, I wouldn't be surprised if there's some shakeup behind McCaffrey, but that just depends on whether or not they draft anyone at the position to compete for a spot.

For the moment, incumbents Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason keep their spots, although both will have to show more to lock themselves into the roles.

Wide Receivers (6)

WR Brandon Aiyuk

WR Deebo Samuel

WR Jauan Jennings

WR Ronnie Bell

WR Chris Conley

WR Danny Gray

Barring any major changes, the top three wideouts will remain the same for San Francisco as it was in 2023.

Brandon Aiyuk has proved himself to be among the NFL's elite pass catchers, and he'll be looking to cash in on a massive contract extension during the offseason. If the two sides can come to an agreement, then he'll return to build upon his chemistry with Purdy. If the unthinkable happens, then the outlook of this part of the roster completely changes.

Behind Aiyuk are Deebo Samuel and his new jersey number and Jauan Jennings, who at the moment is playing on another one-year deal in the form of the RFA tender. While the Niners could still reach out about a longer term deal with Jennings, at least his place is secure for 2024.

After that, it's anyone's guess.

Ronnie Bell showed enough in training camp to make the roster in 2023, but he had just six catches for 68 yards as a rookie (albeit he scored touchdowns on half of those) while featuring in just 17% of the team's offensive snaps and 26% on special teams.

The biggest issue with Bell was that he didn't look comfortable handling punts while now-departed Ray-Ray McCloud was injured midseason, which means he'll need to improve there in order to secure his roster spot given that the team doesn't have a bonafide return specialist yet.

Veteran Chris Conley showed himself to be indispensable during the latter part of the season, proving particularly useful in the playoffs, so he gets the nod for now, as does Danny Gray. But both could find themselves either back on the practice squad or out of a job if a rookie or two show up at this position.

Tight ends (3)

TE George Kittle

TE Cameron Latu

TE Brayden Willis

This is a bit of a yikes position at the moment, outside of All-Pro George Kittle, since neither Cameron Latu (who spend the year on IR) or Willis (who played in just nine games and 48 offensive snaps) made anyone feel comfortable about the slots behind Kittle.

There could still be a move to be made to add a veteran in free agency (Logan Thomas?), something that seems essential given the youth of the group outside of Kittle.

But heading into the draft, this is one position that is cause for some concern, barring a sudden impact by either of the second-year guys.

Offensive line (9)

LT Trent Williams

LG Aaron Banks

C Jake Brendel

RG Jon Feliciano

RT Colton McKivitz

OL Ben Bartch

OL Jaylon Moore

OL Spencer Burford

OL Brandon Parker

The starting group here seems fairly set, although there's always a chance that a top draft pick could come in and unseat one of either Jon Feliciano or Colton McKivitz. If the 49ers end up grabbing an offensive lineman with their first-round pick, don't be shocked if that guy ends up a day-one starter, bumping one of the veterans down to a backup position.

A move like that would be good, too, becuase it would shore up the depth, which right now feels lacking.

Ben Bartch is a guy the 49ers like a lot and he'll have the opportunity to solidify himself as the swing interior option, serving as a direct backup for Jake Brendel as well as the next man up for Aaron Banks and Feliciano.

After that, Spencer Burford hasn't shown much improvement since his rookie season and the lasting image of his play for 49ers' fans is going to be his gaffe in the Super Bowl that erased a chance at a touchdown in overtime.

And then there's Jaylon Moore, who has been adequate during his tenure with the 49ers, but there's a good chance the team is ready to upgrade via multiple selections in the draft. This could also be an opportunity for newly signed free agent Brandon Parker to take hold of a roster spot as well. He gets a nod here, too, but the draft likely shakes up this position group a great deal.

Offensive totals: 25