San Francisco 49ers

49ers list two rookies as starters (Solomon Thomas isn’t one of them)

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) runs past Denver Broncos safety Orion Stewart on a touchdown reception during the second half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Santa Clara, Calif.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) runs past Denver Broncos safety Orion Stewart on a touchdown reception during the second half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Santa Clara, Calif. AP

The 49ers list two rookies, Reuben Foster and George Kittle, as starters on their first depth chart of the regular season. A third, however, could start Sunday's opener against Carolina if safety Jimmie Ward (hamstring) is unable to play.

If Ward isn't ready, the job likely would go to either undrafted rookie Lorenzo Jerome or to third-year player Jaquiski Tartt. Both have played free safety this offseason, although Jerome started three preseason games. Seventh-round pick Adrian Colbert started the fourth.

Another rookie, Trent Taylor, is listed as the top punt returner with Raheem Mostert the top kick returner. Undrafted rookie Victor Bolden is listed as the top backup at both spots.

Solomon Thomas, the third pick in the draft, is not listed as a starter on the unofficial depth chart. However, he's likely to enter the game early, perhaps the first time the 49ers switch into a nickel or dime defense. Thomas plays both defensive tackle on nickel snaps and relieves Tank Carradine at defensive end on base downs.

It will be interesting to see who plays more snaps in Week 1, Thomas or Carradine, the starter at one of the defensive end spots. All of the defensive linemen in uniform will rotate throughout the game.

Taylor, meanwhile, is the team’s slot receiver, meaning he could see action early and could possibly start. Rookie running back Matt Breida will be part of the rotation with Carlos Hyde and Mostert, meaning he’s likely to see action, early, too.

The 49ers list no backups at center. That job, in Week 1 at least, likely will go to undrafted rookie Erik Magnuson. Sixth-round draft pick Pita Taumoepenu is listed as the team’s third strong-side linebacker. He has played both that position and Leo pass rusher (listed above as left defensive end) in practice.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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