If we’re being honest with ourselves, most likely none of the players picked by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 draft will start the season. The 49ers’ roster is incredibly deep as it is, so it’s unlikely for any rookie to be a starter. But out of all the draft picks, which one will see the field the most?
An obvious choice would be Jimmie Ward, the 49ers’ first round choice. Ward most likely won’t see the field much at the position he was drafted at. He was drafted as a safety, but with Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea as the starting safeties, it’s difficult to see him beating either of them out. His ability to play safety is not the only reason why the 49ers drafted him. The 49ers will use Ward more as a nickel corner, but his playing time is not guaranteed just yet. He still has to beat out veterans Eric Wright and Perrish Cox for that nickel spot.
Carlos Hyde is another candidate for some solid playing time. Unfortunately, there is currently a logjam at RB. Hyde will have to beat out Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore for some playing time. Luckily for Hyde, he is the only big, bruising back on the roster, so that should earn him some playing time in short yardage situations. Hyde will most likely have to wait a year to get any real, meaningful touches.
The draft pick with the best shot at starting is Marcus Martin. Unlike the rest of the roster, the center position is the one spot that the 49ers aren’t deep at. Martin only has to beat out one player to earn the starting role. If he can do that, then he will obviously have the most playing time out of all the draft picks. If he can’t beat out Daniel Kilgore, then it will plummet him down to the bottom in terms of playing time.
With NaVorro Bowman out, like Martin, Chris Borland doesn’t have very much competition at the ILB position. Michael Wilhoite is the favorite to start the season next to Patrick Willis, but Borland has the chance to take the spot from him. If he is able to do that, he’ll earn some quality playing time for the first half of the season.