Projecting the 49ers’ Starting Offensive Unit
In a time of rebuilding, Kyle Shanahan is tasked with fixing the 49ers’ offensive unit. In fact, he is devoting himself so much into the remodeling of this part of the team that he didn’t hire an offensive coordinator and will instead spearhead this operation head on.
Now, of course, he will have a few building blocks to work with as well as the many players the team picked up through the offseason. However, it will be a hard project for him as the team was at the bottom of nearly every major category on offense.
So with this in mind, we will take a look at who are the possible starters on the offense.
Starting QB: Brian Hoyer
A man that if you look up in the NFL dictionary for “bridge quarterback” his face will be right next to it. Hoyer isn’t going to be the long-term answer by any means. In fact, he was brought over because of his familiarity with Shanahan and the head coach’s system.
To give Hoyer credit, he is a smart player that knows how to help the offense. Not to mention, bringing in a mentoring ability to the young quarterbacks under him in the future.
If the Hoyer plan doesn’t go through then, Shanahan can either turn to Matt Barkley or CJ Beathard. These names aren’t the most enticing, which is why Hoyer is the team’s starter.
Starting RB: Carlos Hyde
One of the few building blocks on the 49ers’ offensive side of the ball. Hyde has had an up and down career since being drafted in 2014 by the 49ers. He shows flashes of incredible ability whenever he is given the ball. However, because of a string of injuries, he might end up on another team in 2018.
This is a make or breaks season for the Ohio State product as he attempts to stay healthy, and hopefully, eclipse 1,000 yards in a season for the first time in his career.
Starting FB: Kyle Juszczyk
The 49ers lucked out when they were able to sign arguably the league’s best fullback. The Ivy Leaguer is not only an effective blocker for Hyde but also a dangerous weapon in the passing game. Expect Juszczyk to get plenty of looks in 2017 as the team’s starting fullback.
Starting Receivers: Pierre Garcon and Jeremy Kerley
Garcon files under the same player profile as Hoyer. He is a player that is familiar with Shanahan’s system and can contribute right away. The veteran might not be the most explosive player, but he is a talented possession receiver for the 49ers.
Kerley was the 49ers’ surprise breakout player in 2016. Expect Shanahan to continue to utilize seven-year pro’s talent as the team’s number two option.
Other receivers that will be brought into the fold are Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson. The two of them will be featured as deep threat options for the passing game. Another receiver could be Bruce Ellington as a kick returner.
Starting Tight End: Vance McDonald
McDonald had a breakout campaign in the 2016 season. Although it was a short one due to injury, the tight end should keep getting touches on offense.
The team was involved in trade discussions about the Rice University product, but they were never acted on. Even with the speculation of trade, he is still a better option as a starter over any of the other players from the 2016 depth chart.
The team did draft George Kittle from the University of Iowa and should be expected to use him a significant amount in 2017.
Starting Offensive Tackles: Joe Staley and Trenton Brown
Staley is essentially the stalwart of the 49ers’ offense. If there are any guarantees in life, it’s death, taxes, and Joe Staley as the 49ers’ starting left tackle. He will remain as this option until the day he retires, and even after that, it will still be considered his spot.
Trenton Brown played exceptionally well as the team’s full-time right tackle and should continue to be used in this role. The 49ers picked up Garry Gilliam off of waivers from the Seahawks. However, don’t expect him to be used as the starter anytime soon.
Starting Offensive Guards: Zane Beadles and Joshua Garnett
Beadles is a savvy veteran that filled in nicely into the 49ers’ offensive line. He should continue to be used as the team’s left guard and assist in manning the quarterback’s blind side; as well as creating running lanes for Hyde.
Garnett will take the next step establishing himself as a starter on the team’s offensive line. He missed a good portion of the last offseason finishing up classes at Stanford and will be able to take advantage of the time he will spend learning the nuances of Shanahan’s system.
Other players that will be rotated into the guard positions will be Andrew Tiller and John Theus. Don’t be surprised if Gilliam comes in as a guard on some plays.
Starting Center: Jeremy Zuttah
Zuttah brings stability and productivity to the center position. Something that has been missing for the last few seasons for the 49ers.
It was a smart decision on the 49ers’ part to trade for Zuttah with the Ravens. Another one of the better acquisitions by the 49ers during the offseason.