Predict how many snaps each of the 49ers’ offensive skill players will play during the upcoming regular season, and explain your predictions. Keep in mind, the 49ers’ offense played 1,032 snaps last regular season.
Here are my predictions.
1. Vernon Davis – 1,000 snaps. He’ll play every single snap he’s physically able to play.
2. Anquan Boldin – 900 snaps. With Crabtree out, the 49ers need both Boldin and Davis on the field at all times. They’ll give Boldin a play off here and there because he’s turning 33 in October, but he’ll play practically every snap.
3. Vance McDonald – 700 snaps. The 49ers need McDonald this season more than they needed Walker last season because Crabtree is out. Walker played 589 snaps last year, so McDonald easily could play more than 600 snaps. He may be the third-best receiver on the 49ers right now – it sure seemed that way in mini-camp.
4. Frank Gore – 650 snaps. He played 753 snaps last year. That was probably too many, considering he didn’t have a 100-yard rushing game in the regular season after Week 7. The 49ers probably will scale back Gore’s playing time this season to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
t-4. Kyle Williams – 650 snaps. He’s injury prone, so he’s never played more than 289 snaps in a season. That being said, he’s in line to be the 49ers’ No.2 receiver this season and as long as he’s healthy, he should play about two thirds of the offensive snaps.
6. Bruce Miller – 400 snaps. He played 460 snaps last season, but I think the 49ers are going to use one-back formations more frequently this season than they have the past two seasons. 11 personnel probably will be the 49ers’ go-to grouping on third-down-and-more-than-one-yard. On first and second down, I expect the 49ers to pump up their use of 12 personnel – two tight ends and two wide receivers. The 49ers used these two groupings the majority of the time during the recent mini-camp team drills, for what it’s worth.
7. Kendall Hunter – 200 snaps. He was on pace to play 250 snaps last season before he tore his Achilles. This season he’s going to have to split carries with LaMichael James as Frank Gore’s backup.
8. LaMichael James – 150 snaps. James looks bigger and faster this offseason, but I still think Hunter is a better running back when both players are healthy.
9. Garrett Celek – 125 snaps. Celek played 112 snaps last year. The 49ers like to use heavy formations, and he’s a fixture in those.
10. A.J. Jenkins – 75 snaps. As long as Boldin, Williams, Davis and McDonald are healthy, I don’t think Jenkins will get a lot of playing time, maybe four or five snaps per game to run drag routes and the occasional fly sweep.
11. Quinton Patton – 50 snaps. He was one of the best players in mini-camp. I think he’s going to earn playing time as the season progresses.
100 snaps will go to offensive linemen when the 49ers use six and seven-offensive-linemen formations.