Sakamoto: How 49ers WR Eric Rogers ACL Injury Impacts Depth at Wide Receiver

The San Francisco 49ers received bad news last week as HC Chip Kelly confirms WR Eric Rogers will miss the 2016 season due to a torn ACL. An injury that occurred during last week’s special-teams team period, Rogers will now join starting NT Ian Williams on the IR (Injured Reserve) abruptly ending his season.

Rogers, who was hand selected by Kelly to be a key player in his offense despite playing in the CFL, will now have to wait another year to showcase his talent, in front of the Forever Faithful.

Rogers, who led the Canadian Football League (CFL) with 1,448 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns last year, received interest from at least 16 NFL teams. Among those teams included the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants.

Back in January, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Rogers received a $125,000 signing bonus and another $100,000 in guaranteed salary. That’s the most lucrative guarantee for a player from the CFL since the Miami Dolphins gave DE Cameron Wake a $1 million signing bonus back in 2008.

So where does WRC Bob Bicknell and the rest of the coaching staff go from here? I can all but guarantee five players are locks to make the 53-man roster. Those players are WR Torrey Smith, WR Bruce Ellington, WR Quinton Patton, WR DeAndre Smelter, and rookie WR Aaron Burbridge. [Click on each player for exclusive article]

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That leaves one roster spot open on the third-string team. That camp battle will ultimately come down between WR DeAndrew White and WR Devon Cajuste. The Alabama product [White] is clearly the better player but Cajuste’s potential may be too intriguing to pass up.

So far in camp, White has been doing nothing to disprove my assessment that he’s the better player. He’s been making nice back/shoulder fade catches while running crisp routes.

However, for whatever reason, the ball hasn’t been thrown White’s direction.

The same can’t be said of Cajuste, who is getting plenty of targets from both Gabbert and Kaepernick. From running down the seams to catching intermediate dig-routes, Cajuste is making the most of his limited opportunities so far in training camp.

But why am I not including the one receiver who is clearly outplaying the both of them day in and day out? I hate to say it, but football is a numbers game, and unfortunately for veteran WR Jerome Simpson, he looks to be on the outside looking in.

The six-year veteran has plenty of factors going against him. His age, lack of versatility, and off-field behavior are just a number of things that go against the seasoned pro. However, his ability to separate from 49ers defensive backs is not one of them.

Time and time again, Simpson will run a quick slant, go-route, or post route and get open seemingly 24/7. It’s not even close. Doesn’t matter who covers him, he will find a way to create a perfect passing window for whomever is behind center.

A player who is quickly making a case for the No. 6 wide receiver spot, the question remains what does the coaching staff value more? A seasoned pro who is reliable, consistent, and NFL ready? Or an inexperienced but high ceiling prospect with versatility to learn multiple positions?

With the 49ers preparing for their first preseason game against the Houston Texans, I will keep you all updated on the latest as it unfolds.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.