Unofficial depth charts are exactly that. Unofficial.
There’s usually very little truth you can glean from an unofficial preseason depth chart, but the one the 49ers released Tuesday offers an updated glimpse at some of the key position battles throughout the roster.
The new unofficial depth chart lists an ‘or’ between C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens, meaning it’s a dead heat for the backup QB job, or at least that’s what they’d have you believe.
Beathard came on in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco’s 24-15 win over the Broncos on Monday night, completing five of 11 passes for 81 yards. It’s worth noting, however, that he likely would have had a long touchdown pass if not for a bad drop by Kendrick Bourne.
Still, while Mullens came on after Beathard, he didn’t waste his opportunity. Mullens completed two of three passes for 27 yards and the 49ers’ lone passing touchdown on the evening, an absolutely perfectly thrown fade to Bourne in the back right corner of the end zone. It’s also worth noting Mullens started San Francisco’s first preseason game.
Expect Garoppolo to play the majority of the first half of the 49ers’ third preseason game against the Chiefs on Saturday, if not all of it. Keep an eye on who takes over for Jimmy G, as it may give the best clue yet as to which direction Kyle Shanahan is leaning.
Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are still listed as the starters. No surprise there. They, along with Trent Taylor and rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, are absolute locks to make the roster. That leaves Bourne, Richie James Jr., Jordan Matthews and others battling it out for what will be two spots at most, but more likely just one.
Based on the new unofficial depth chart, it would seem like Bourne and James have the inside track to make the roster, as they’re listed behind the starters, respectively. Hurd is listed behind James Jr., while Matthews and Samuel are listed behind Bourne.
James would seem to be too duplicative of Taylor, but given that Taylor will miss the start of the season after breaking a bone in his foot, that could open up room for James, particularly given his punt return ability.
Bourne’s promise was on display in his receiving touchdown against the Broncos. But as nice as that catch was, his egregious drop of Beathard’s deep ball was equally bad. San Francisco could use more size as the receiver position, which the 6-foot-1 Bourne offers. However, so does the 6-foot-3 Matthews.
Matthews was only targeted once against the Broncos and had zero receptions, but he did play 14 snaps on special teams, including one in which he took down the punt returner for a two-yard loss. Whoever makes the team as the last receiver is going to have to play special teams. Matthews definitely didn’t hurt his case in that area, and the veteran stability he offers will most certainly be contrasted against Bourne’s inconsistency.
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The updated unofficial depth chart lists Adrian Colbert as the starter, albeit with the injured Jimmie Ward understood to be the starter upon his return. Behind Colbert, in order, are Tarvarius Moore and Antone Exum Jr.
In two professional seasons, Colbert has missed a total of 11 games due to injury. He suffered a hamstring injury against the Broncos, and has generally underwhelmed throughout training camp.
With Ward sidelined and Colbert not claiming the job in his absence, it’s opened the door for Moore, who the 49ers — in desperation — were forced to switch to safety after being a cornerback his rookie season. Moore played safety in college and has shown some promise there recently, but it’s not a good sign when arguably your best free safety option spent the entire previous year learning a different position.
Moore is obviously a lock to remain on the roster. Given Ward’s lengthy injury history and the way the depth chart currently looks, one continues to wonder if San Francisco will come to regret not acquiring a single safety in what were loaded free-agent and draft classes at that position.