Predicting 49ers wide receiver depth chart after 2023 NFL Draft

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings (15)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings (15) / Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers added only one wide receiver via the 2023 NFL Draft, but he could shake up the depth chart in a big way.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is understandably hard on his wide receivers.

It's not surprising. After all, Shanahan was a collegiate wideout during his days at the University of Texas in Austin, and the head coach's preference for speed and route-running ability has helped create stars like Brandon Aiyuk and All-Pro Deebo Samuel.

Yet Shanahan has also thrown wide receivers into the doghouse (see Dante Pettis from 2019), meaning it can be a gauntlet for any wideout going through an offseason program with the red and gold.

The Niners added only one wide receiver via the 2023 NFL Draft, Michigan's Ronnie Bell, who was a Round 7 addition that could have been selected much earlier.

Bell joins a crowded wide receiver room, though, and he'll have some serious competition in front of him, all of which could potentially keep him off the roster during his rookie season.

With the 2023 draft now in the books, and San Francisco having signed both veteran and undrafted free agents since, let's look at how the wide receiver depth chart potentially shakes up with some post-draft predictions.

49ers 2023 offseason wide receiver depth chart

Bell is only one of a few new faces to the 49ers' offseason roster, which added veteran Chris Conley and undrafted free-agent Shae Wyatt to the fray.

For now, the following players are listed on the depth chart:

  • Brandon Aiyuk
  • Ronnie Bell
  • Chris Conley
  • Danny Gray
  • Jauan Jennings
  • Tay Martin
  • Ray-Ray McCloud
  • Dazz Newsome
  • Deebo Samuel
  • Willie Snead
  • Shae Wyatt

Aiyuk managed to lead all Niners pass-catchers with 78 receptions and 1,015 receiving yards a year ago, while Jauan Jennings continued his value as a big-slot option and third-down target.

Samuel's importance and versatility can't be overstated either.

Beyond that, though, things get a big murky. And that's why we engage in silly exercises like roster predictions.

Predicting who makes the cut at wide receiver for 49ers

Samuel and Aiyuk are all but guaranteed roster spots, although the thought of trading one of the two while their values are high isn't entirely foreign.

For now, they're both safely on the roster. And Ray-Ray McCloud is, too, given his value as a return specialist, one whom managed 243 yards and a touchdown on 14 receptions last year.

Assuming Shanahan keeps only five wide receivers on the 53-man roster, though, it's not hard to see why this position battle is so heated. Three spots have been accounted for already, and if San Francisco appreciates what Jennings does on third down and on the blocking side of things, he's likely safe, too.

Four spots of possibly five are already filled. But here's a stab at how they pan out:

  1. Deebo Samuel
  2. Brandon Aiyuk
  3. Jauan Jennings
  4. Ray-Ray McCloud
  5. Ronnie Bell

It sounds pretty unimaginative, as we just tack on Bell to the back end of the depth chart. But Bell deserved to be drafted higher than Round 7, and he easily could be a long-term replacement for someone like Aiyuk or Jennings, provided the rookie develops correctly.

That might be a stretch, yes. But so was assuming that last year's third-round pickup, Danny Gray, would be a vital part of Shanahan's offense his rookie year.

Gray had one catch for 10 yards on seven targets. A non-factor, and it wouldn't be shocking if he fails to make the roster in year two.

Read More: Danny Gray was Niners' most disappointing rookie from 2022

Conley and Willie Snead both provide some veteran leadership heading into training camp, but it's hard to see either of them making the squad, provided the depth chart is fully healthy.

The rest of the names are likely little more than camp fillers anyway.

Nevertheless, the real battle is at the back end of the depth chart where Bell looks to carve out a role but will be fighting against the likes of Gray and perhaps even Jennings, too, when training camp eventually kicks off.

Next. 49ers 2023 full schedule, game-by-game predictions. dark