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Projecting San Francisco 49ers skill position depth chart and fantasy impact

The 49ers made a big move this offseason, trading up in the 2021 NFL Draft for QB Trey Lance. And yet, Jimmy Garoppolo is the favorite to start in Week 1. We break down roster chances and what it all means for fantasy football.

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Levi’s Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have made quite the splash this offseason. A year after reaching the Super Bowl, the team struggled with injuries at numerous key positions en route to a 6-10 season. Almost every position unit lost a key player and the stumbled through the back half of the schedule.

They head into 2021 with as big a question as anybody out there — who will start at quarterback. The team traded the No. 12 pick and two future first round picks to the Miami Dolphins to secure the No. 3 overall pick. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan made it clear they were looking for a quarterback and now we get a training camp competition between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. This is a talented roster if they can stay healthy, but everything else takes a backseat to the quarterback room.

Quarterback

  1. Jimmy Garoppolo
  2. Trey Lance
  3. Nate Sudfeld

Running back

  1. Raheem Mostert
  2. Jeff Wilson
  3. Trey Sermon
  4. Elijah Mitchell

Fullback

  1. Kyle Juszczyk

Wide receiver

  1. Deebo Samuel
  2. Brandon Aiyuk
  3. Mohamed Sanu
  4. Richie James
  5. Jalen Hurd
  6. Trent Sherfield

Tight end

  1. George Kittle
  2. Ross Dwelley
  3. Charlie Woerner

Biggest offseason changes

The quarterback position is the most important on a football team, so the decision to trade up and draft Lance is the biggest offseason move, and it’s not even close. The question is how soon he moves into the starting lineup with Garoppolo still on the roster.

The biggest non-QB changes on offense are the addition of veteran center Alex Mack (free agency) and rookie right guard Aaron Banks (second round pick). Weston Richburg never worked out due to injuries and Mack has extensive history with Kyle Shanahan. The offensive line dealt with a host of injuries and inconsistency last season.

Biggest questions for fantasy football

In his lone healthy season in 2019, Garoppolo ranked 15th among quarterbacks in total fantasy points and 24th in points per game. Outside of dynasty leagues and two-QB leagues, Garoppolo was waiver fodder. He’s getting a full offseason and the push from Lance might help, but the 49ers QB position is not going to feature prominently in fantasy drafts.

The biggest question is at running back. Last year among running backs in PPR leagues, Jeff Wilson ranked 26th in fantasy points per game while Raheem Mostert ranked 29th. Wilson played in 11 games while Mostert played in 8 games, and that resulted in the 49ers aggressively addressing the position this offseason. The team signed Wayne Gallman, who led the Giants in rushing yards last year. They then spent a third round pick on Ohio State’s Trey Sermon and a sixth round pick on Louisiana’s Elijah Mitchell. Shanahan backfields are always tough to sort out in fantasy, and this will be particularly difficult. Mostert and Wilson are talented and productive when healthy, but Sermon — and Mitchell to a lesser extent — is going to get opportunities.

The other question is wide receiver. Last season among wide receivers in PPR league, rookie Brandon Aiyuk ranked 18th in fantasy points per game while Deebo Samuel ranked 46th. Aiyuk played in 12 games while Samuel played in seven games. Both are extremely talented and will get a lot of looks, but if they can’t stay healthy it won’t matter. The 49ers did not draft a receiver but did sign Marqise Lee after a post-draft tryout. UPDATE: Lee has already been cut. They’ve got some young talent in Richie James and Jalen Hurd, but any fantasy relevance in 2021 will be if Aiyuk and Samuel can stay healthy.