Because of their recent success and loaded roster, the San Francisco 49ers don’t have much flexibility in their depth chart. Most starting spots, as well as the backups, are already fairly firmly penciled in as the 49ers try to make their fourth consecutive NFC Championship and move back to the Super Bowl.
That’s not to say that there’s no room for players to move, however, just that any surprises are more likely to come from the bottom of the roster rather than the top. Maybe Blaine Gabbert won’t catch Colin Kaepernick for the starting quarterback role, but perhaps Josh Johnson can replace Gabbert on the second string.
With two weeks of OTAs over, and with the mandatory minicamp looming on June 17, let’s take a look at some players who may have carved out more substantial roles for themselves this upcoming season. In some cases, it may be backups who look to see the field more often than expected. In other cases, it may be players on the roster bubble who seem to have taken solid steps into ensuring their spot on the final 53-man roster.
Because the OTAs are primarily non-contact, some of these improvements might be mirages. Some players trending positively will fade as everyone begins to ramp up to full game speed. Other positions, especially on the offensive and defensive lines, are almost impossible to judge without full blocking drills.
Still, OTAs do provide a bit of clarity when it comes to depth charts and the like. Here are five players who have begun to stake their claim to a more significant role in 2014.