COMMENTARY | It appears like the San Francisco 49ers will have at least four rookies on their 53-man roster to start the season.
Safety Eric Reid, defensive end Tank Carradine, tight end Vance McDonald and wide receiver Quinton Patton all have above average chances of taking the field in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers on September 8.
However, nothing is ever set in stone, especially if you are dealing with the 49ers' brass.
"We present the opportunity," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke told CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. "We never put a ceiling on any player, whether it's a draft pick or a free agent, college free agent. We never put a ceiling on what they can be within our system.
"We look at it like, 'We're bringing you in to compete.' You will earn that role on this team through competition. That's with every player."
S Eric Reid
It is far too early to predict whether or not Eric Reid will start aside safety Donte Whitner on September 8, but Reid has the best shot on paper heading into training camp.
He will be competing with newly acquired safety/special teams Craig Dahl in camp, but all indications are that Reid will be starting at safety the majority of the season at the least.
Predictions:Reid should see the bulk of the starts at safety this season. Dahl was brought in as a special teams ace and will not be a threat to Reid in the long run.
Reid should be able to see 14 starts this season at safety, with somewhere around 50 tackles and two interceptions to round out a good start to his NFL career.
DE Tank Carradine
Tank Carradine may go down as the steal of the draft one day, after being projected as a first-round pick earlier this offseason. The torn ACL obviously had something to do with that, but he has already declared himself 100 percent and ready to go.
Carradine will provide great depth to the defensive line, and his role should grow as the season wears on.
Predictions:While Carradine is not expected to have a large role on the team this season, he is expected to play a large part in the years to come. So the 49ers will presumably find ways to get him his share of the snaps.
The 49ers can expect Carradine to take some time adapting to the speed of the NFL this season, but his NFL-ready body should earn him two or three sacks while backing up literally the entire defensive line.
TE Vance McDonald
At 6'4" and 267 pounds, Vance McDonald will make a big target for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The 49ers drafted McDonald to take the place of the departed Delanie Walker during the offseason, and all indications are that McDonald will have no problem picking up where Walker left off. In fact, McDonald was best compared to Walker during his draft workouts.
Despite the rather unknown name, McDonald will inherit his share of the load this season, as another large target for Kaepernick in an offensive system that loves two-tight end sets.
Predictions:The ability of McDonald to line up at either tight end or wide receiver makes him a perfect fit in the 49ers' system, and an easy replacement for Walker.
Expect similar numbers to what Walker was pulling in last season, even quite possibly around 300 yards and three or four touchdowns for the season.
WR Quinton Patton
While Reid and Carradine will be the two rookies to watch out for this season, Patton might be standing right with them on the rookie scale when the season is over.
Patton is a speedy wide out with the physical attributes to excel in the NFL, but he is still considered a project at the next level.
Despite all that, Patton is the front-runner to land the 49ers' third-string wide receiver spot, at least to start the season. Mario Manningham is still recovering from torn ligaments in his left knee, and it is unknown whether or not he will start the season on time.
The only other options to contend with Patton would be A.J. Jenkins and Kyle Williams.
Predictions:Patton is a wild card this season, but many are expecting him to play a real role this year for the 49ers, especially since Manningham and Williams are both recovering from injury.
While Patton may not have his spot for long, he should see good action early in the season. We can expect 200 yards and one or two touchdowns from him in 2013.
Scott Semmler is a senior at San Jose State University fortunate enough to have covered nearly every Bay Area professional sports team, including the San Francisco Giants' 2012 World Series title. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSemmler22.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- San Francisco 49ers
- Eric Reid
- Quinton Patton