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49ers position-by-position analysis

The Observer’s David Scott takes a look at this season’s Charlotte 49ers football team, based on the two-deep depth chart:

OFFENSE

Overview: Most of the key players responsible for an offense that averaged 33.4 points and 448.5 total yards return. Leading the group is quarterback Matt Johnson (2,581 passing yards, 418 rushing yards), who has big-play guys Trent Bostick and Austin Duke throw to, as well as brusing running back Kalif Phillips. The line, however, is the strength of the offense (allowed just nine sacks last season).

Receiver

9 DMARJAI DEVINE 6-3 210 Sr.

84 Juwan Foggie 6-2 190 Fr.

Comment: Devine didn’t play much as a junior, but he has junior college experience and had an impressive spring.

Wide receiver

81 TRENT BOSTICK 6-1 200 So.

89 T.L. Ford 6-3 175 Fr.

Comment: Bostick caught 42 passes for 594 yards and four TDs. Will be a valuable deep threat. Ford will likely see plenty of playing time.

Left tackle

73 JAMAL COVINGTON 6-4 300 R-So.

78 Kyle Hoffman 6-4 255 R-So.

Comment: Covington is a big, physical lineman who started all 11 games last season.

Left guard

70 CASEY PERRY 6-2 325 R-So.

77 Wolfgang Zacherl 6-4 285 So.

Comment: Perry has made the transition from defensive line to the offense. Athletic and strong.

Center

74 THOMAS LA BIANCA 6-3 285 R-So.

50 Jarred Barr 6-3 295 R-So.

Comment: La Bianca controls things at the line, missed some of the preseason with knee injury.

Right guard

76 DANIEL BLITCH 6-6 345 R-Sr.

55 Mason Sledge 6-3 295 R-So.

Comment: Blitch backed up by Sledge, who started 10 games last season.

Right tackle

68 DANNY BOOK 6-6 280 R-Jr.

75 Eugene German 6-4 290 R-Fr.

Comment: Book started every game in 2013; German should be a starter in the future.

H-back

15 JUSTIN BOLUS 6-3 220 R-So.

85 Richard Murphy 6-3 230 Jr.

Comment: Bolus steps into the starting spot, but Murphy has experience from junior college and will contribute.

Slot receiver

10 AUSTIN DUKE 5-9 160 R-So.

2 Will Thomas 6-0 170 R-So.

Comment: Duke is the team’s big-play threat, caught 62 passes for 727 yards and six touchdowns last season. Needs to improve ball security.

Running back

25 KALIF PHILLIPS 5-11 205 So.

32 Damarrell Alexander 5-10 165 R-Jr.

Comment: Phillips got stronger as the season progressed in 2013, gained 716 yards and scored 12 touchdowns.

Quarterback

8 MATT JOHNSON 6-3 230 R-So.

5 Lee McNeill 6-1 200 R-So.

Comment: Dual-threat Johnson will be asked to do less running, more game management this season.

DEFENSE

Overview: Plenty to improve on here for a unit that allowed 31.2 points per game last season. More experience and depth should make the 49ers better in most areas, although there are significant holes to fill at linebacker and in the secondary.

Defensive end

99 BRANDON BANKS 6-2 270 R-So.

11 Mark Pettit 6-4 230 R-So.

Comment: Banks started all 11 games last season, 22 solo tackles and nine quarterback hurries.

Nose tackle

65 LARRY OGUNJOBI 6-2 280 R-So

97 Tanner Fleming 6-2 275 R-So.

Comment: Ogunjobi played hurt for much of last season, anchors center of the line.

Defensive end

92 JAMES MIDDLETON 6-4 275 R-So.

91 Nick Carroll 6-5 235 R-Fr.

or 95 Devin Clegg 6-4 235 R-So.

Comment: Middleton is fast and long, had 2.5 tackles-for-loss last season.

Outside linebacker

34 NICO ALCALDE 6-2 205 R-So.

24 Daquan Lucas 5-10 210 R-So.

Comment: Alcalde, a former walk-on, improved his tackling in offseason.

Inside linebacker

6 NICK COOK 6-1 220 Jr.

50 Karrington King 5-11 215 R-Fr.

Comment: Junior-college transfer Cook being counted on to make immediate impact.

Inside linebacker

42 CALEB CLAYTON-MOLBY 6-2 230 Sr.

58 Dustin Crouser 6-2 230 R-Fr.

Comment: Clayton-Molby’s four forced fumbles in ’13 tied for third most nationally.

Outside linebacker

7 JALEN HOLT 6-4 230 R-So.

43 Tyler DeStefani 6-4 220 R-Sr.

Comment: Holt stepping into spot vacated by graduated Mark Hogan.

Cornerback

14 TANK NORMAN 5-11 180 R-So.

5 Tre’Shun Wynn 6-0 175 Fr.

Comment: Norman had an interception last season, and will be pushed for playing time by Wynn, who has had an impressive camp.

Safety

13 DESMOND COOPER 6-2 214 R-Sr.

21 Prince Mayela 5-10 170 R-So.

Comment: Last go round for Cooper, the leader of the secondary.

Safety

3 BRANDEN DOZIER 6-0 195 Jr.

8 Ardy Holmes 5-9 195 R-Jr.

Comment: Dozier is the starter for now, but Holmes has been slowed by injury. Both figure to get plenty of playing time.

Cornerback

28 GREG CUNNINGHAM JR. 6-2 190 R-So.

27 Terrance Winchester 6-0 175 R-So.

Comment: Another spot where both players will contribute. Winchester led team with three interceptions last season.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Overview: Charlotte’s special teams will have a different look in a few areas – punter, kick returners and punt returner.

Kicker

86 BLAKE BREWER 6-1 205 So.

69 Stephen Muscarello 5-11 195 R-So.

Comment: Brewer had a solid freshman season, making nine-of-15 field goals (long of 43 yards) and missing just on extra point.

Punter

40 ARTHUR HART 6-2 185 Fr.

37 Hayden Pezzoni 5-9 160 R-So.

Comment: Hart replaces Brendan Strupp, last year’s punter who averaged 38.1 yards.

Long snapper

48 KEASTON SINICKI 6-0 235 So.

64 Brian McDonough 5-9 190 Fr.

Comment: Sinicki, out of Charlotte Catholic, was solid in 2013.

Kick returner

10 AUSTIN DUKE 5-9 160 R-So.

4 COREY NESMITH 5-9 185 R-So.

32 Demarrel Alexander 5-10 165 R-Jr.

5 Tre’Shun Wynn 6-0 175 Fr.

Comment: Duke and Nesmith form a new, fleet return combo, replacing graduated Mikel Hunter and Kalif Phillips, who will concentrate on the running game.

Punt returner

4 COREY NESMITH 5-9 185 R-So.

10 Austin Duke 5-9 160 R-So

Comment: Again, Nesmith will take Hunter’s spot. Returned one punt last season for 9 yards.

Holder

5 LEE MCNEILL 6-1 200 R-SO.

Comment: Backup quarterback threw a 22-yard touchdown pass on fake field goal last season.

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