There is a consistent theme with the 49ers’ 2021 draft class. Everything except one of the choices fits into a similar track to a starting role going into their rookie seasons.
It seems to be based on the initial projections for each election that San Francisco’s eye was towards 2022 and then when they made their choices because the road to start is messy for almost all of them.
They drafted a quarterback, two offensive linemen, two running backs, two cornerbacks and a safety. They have started in 2021 at all except the right guard, where second-round pick Aaron Banks was to step in. Outside of that, the starting roles were to open a lot next year.
With this in mind, we went through this year̵
One of the reasons the 49ers drafted Lance while holding on to Jimmy Garoppolo is so Garoppolo could start while Lance evolves. There are several ways for him to get on the field his first year, but it will either require a Garoppolo injury or a complete meltdown in camp for Lance to get a start under center.
Chances he starts: 8 percent
Using a top-50 pick on a guard means the team is relatively confident he can solve their problem on the right guard. Starting him at RG allows Daniel Brunskill to serve as an all-in-one reserve and pushes players like Colton McKivitz and Justin Skule further down the depth map to bolster their reserves up front. It would be a problem if the banks, the 48th overall election, did not start.
Chances of him starting: 91.4 percent
49ers use of running backs is a little different than the norm. The sermon may not get credit for anyone starting this year, but he should factor a ton into their driving game, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is their leading rusher at the end of the year.
Chances he starts: 24 percentage
The rookie corners already have a steep hill to climb for a starting role. San Francisco is likely set for the starting spots with Jason Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley and K’Waun Williams. Things on the depth map get shaky after that. Thomas had a big 2019 before opting out in 2020. If he continues where he left off, he could be the fourth corner and first off the bench if a starter is not available.
Chances he starts: 13 percent
The plan is to move Moore, a dominant left tackle in college, to the interior, where his 6-4, 311-pound frame fits better in the NFL. It would be a good problem for San Francisco to have if Moore pushes on a starting RG job, especially if banks also play well in camp. However, there are too many bodies ahead for Moore to realistically get a shot at starting out the gate.
Chances he starts: 8.3 percent
Lenoir played outside of college, but he plans to move to the nickel corner role with the 49ers. K’Waun Williams has the starting point nailed down, but Lenoir should immediately contribute to special teams and could be the first nickel off the bench if Williams goes down.
Chances he starts: 9 percent
Hufanga could have a massive impact on special teams in year 1, but a starting job in security may not be in his immediate future. However, the 49ers are not extremely deep in that position, especially the strong safety spot where Hufanga plans to play. On the other hand, the team may see him as a Sam linebacker who opens the door a little for him to earn a starting job right away.
Chances he starts: 11 percent
Depth in the rear space was an issue for San Francisco last year. It will not be this year. Mitchell is big, fast and could end up fitting into the Raheem Mostert role in the long run. There are just too many players ahead of him going into the year to find out that at some point he is the starter.
Chances of him starting: 3.8 percent