The San Francisco 49ers final 53-man roster is set, and the 2019 version looks to have more talent overall than we’ve seen in some time. Still, even with the improvements, there are some red flags that could end up costing the team. Here are five concerns about the 49ers’ final roster:
After final cuts were made, John Lynch met with the media via conference call and said that it wasn’t unreasonable to think the team would be looking to bolster its safety unit. In the end, the team decided to bring back Antone Exum and Marcell Harris, two players who were initially let go and not claimed by any other team. Exum was signed to the 53-man roster after Kentavious Street was put on IR, and Harris was signed to the practice squad.
Having other viable options for this position group seemed vital, considering all three of the safties that were kept initially have major question marks. Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt have missed a combined total of 31 games the past two seasons due to injury, and Tavarius Moore has never played an NFL game at safety.
With all of the money and resources the Niners spent on improving the roster this offseason, it’s a bit of a head scratcher to think that more emphasis was not put on upgrading the safety group.
Offensive line depth
Any way you look at it, losing backup swing tackle Shon Coleman for the season due to an ankle injury was a massive blow. There wasn’t much in the way of depth behind him, and now the team is without an experienced tackle to backup Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey.
If either of the starters were to go down, Kyle Shanahan will be forced to choose from rookie Justin Skule, or the inexperienced Daniel Brunskill. Brunskill is a converted tight end who spent two years on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad, and was most recently with the AAF.
The interior is also worrisome, with Ben Garland looking like the main backup at the guard and center positions. Brunskill will also be able to fill in at guard. It’s a scary proposition for a team whose starters, Weston Richburg, Mike Person, and Laken Tomlinson, will already be under the microscope to see if their overall play can improve, especially in pass protection.
Wide receiver health
Last season, Kendrick Bourne was the only 49ers wide out to play in all 16 games. This year, the offense will already be without Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd in Week 1. That puts the emphasis on Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin to stay on the field.
Pettis and Goodwin missed a combined nine games last season, and their production was inconstant because of it. Both played well in stretches, but more consistency will be needed, especially with rookie Deebo Samuel needing time to develop.
More of the same at cornerback?
By now it’s a well known fact that the 49ers’ cornerbacks didn’t intercept a single pass in 2018. When you consider how little this unit produced in terms of taking the ball away, it’s no surprise that San Francisco set a dubious NFL record by only recording two interceptions the entire year as a team.
Despite the lack of production, most of the same parts are coming back. The only new addition was the often injured Jason Verrett, who is, well, battling an injury and may or may not play in Week 1.
Beyond that, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has to hope that Richard Sherman has another strong year left in him at age 31, K’waun Williams can come back quickly after a preseason knee issue, and Ahkello Witherspoon is ready improve on an inconsistent sophomore campaign.
Four tight ends?
With the concerns at the other positions we mentioned, it seems strange that the 49ers opted to keep four tight ends on its roster. We know George Kittle is a star and the focal point of the offense, but why the need for Ross Dwelley, Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo?
John Lynch said it was because they wanted to take some pressure off of Kittle, and give him rest when they can. That makes sense, but wouldn’t three tight ends also give them the option to rest Kittle? In that scenario, the other roster spot could have be used for another offensive lineman or defensive back.