Potential roles for each 49ers 2021 draft pick in rookie season

The 49ers made eight picks in this year’s draft, but a quick rundown of the selections indicates they had an eye toward next season with many of their selections.

That means the impact from the 2021 class could be minimal barring injuries or a lack of availability from veterans. Still, there’ll be some role for each player during their rookie campaigns. We took a guess at what those roles might be:

QB Trey Lance

(AP Photo/Sam Hodde)

Lance figures to start the season as the 49ers' backup quarterback, offering an improvement over Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard to provide the team better insulation from a Jimmy Garoppolo injury. Don't be surprised if his role is elevated even without Garoppolo not being available. The 49ers believe he's the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft, and if he's as fast a learner in the pros as he was in college, he may be the better starting option at some point this year.

OL Aaron Banks

(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

There'll be a competition at right guard, but Banks should win it. If he's healthy and not the team's starting right guard by Week 1, they'll have a serious issue after picking him No. 48 overall.

RB Trey Sermon

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There's a bit of a logjam at running back and the 49ers aren't likely to lean heavily on any one back. Sermon should slot in at least as the second running back behind Raheem Mostert though. Perhaps he falls in behind Jeff Wilson Jr. or Wayne Gallman, but given that San Francisco gave up two fourth-round picks to move up to get him, they're expecting big-time contributions right away.

CB Ambry Thomas

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Richard Sherman's potential return casts a sizable question mark over the cornerback depth chart. Thomas as the roster sits without Sherman is probably the first CB off the bench behind Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley. If Sherman joins the roster, Thomas likely gets pushed down a spot or two. Injuries were very prevalent in the secondary last year though. Thomas may start the season as a reserve, but he could see plenty of playing time if he does land as the top reserve corner.

OL Jaylon Moore

(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

Moore as a left tackle in college who expects to kick inside in the pros where his 6-4, 311-pound frame is a better fit. He's a good athlete who's Year 1 ceiling could be the starting right guard job if Banks doesn't pan out. The more likely scenario though is that he's one of the team's reserve offensive linemen who lands on the depth chart behind Daniel Brunskill and perhaps Colton McKivitz.

CB Deommodore Lenoir

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It'll be tough in Year 1 for Lenoir to find playing time outside of special teams. He may be the backup nickel corner, but the team could opt to move Moseley to the slot and Thomas to Moseley's spot if Williams goes down if Lenoir doesn't stand out in camp. If all goes well though he'll be the first slot corner off the bench if Williams is unavailable.

S Talanoa Hufanga

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Hufanga said his Year 1 goal is to be a Pro Bowler on special teams. That's likely what his rookie season playing time will be limited to given the number of players ahead of him on the depth chart going into camp. He was an extremely productive college player though and he could factor into the team's long-term defensive plans. For now he'll aim to make his mark as a special teams ace with perhaps some sparse defensive playing time depending on the game situation.

RB Eli Mitchell

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The 49ers have a full running backs room and Mitchell finds himself at the bottom of the totem pole going into camp. He'll need a strong showing in rookie minicamp to get on the map and perhaps work his way up from there. His playing time may not come at all without injury ahead of him or a surprise cut after camp. Expect limited work from him if he manages to land on the 53-man this season.