Preseason Preview: Projecting the 49ers 53-Man Roster
Training camp is nearly over, but the good news is preseason is nearly here.
A big change this year is that the 90-man roster does not get trimmed to 75 before slimming down to a final 53. The entire 90 gets to play through preseason and there is one cut-down day.
As of right now, here is the likeliest group to make the final 53:
Quarterbacks – Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, and C.J. Beathard (3)
C.J. Beathard has shown enough in camp that it’s possible the 49ers only keep two quarterbacks which would open up a spot on the roster.
Running Backs – Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, Joe Williams and Matt Breida (4)
In a perfect world, it would be nice to keep Kapri Bibbs as he has some explosiveness and ability to make plays. The problem is the world isn’t perfect.
Fullback – Kyle Juszczyk (1)
Juszczyk has done significant work with the running backs and the tight ends. He will emerge as the new “Swiss Army Knife” and will cause matchup issues for linebackers.
Wide Receivers – Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson, DeAndre Smelter (6)
Taylor could end up starting at some point this season as he looks like a perfect slot receiver for this offense. Robinson will make some big plays this year as he has similar speed and ability to create seperation like his counterpart, Goodwin.
Smelter could be a bit of a reach here, but he has had a good camp and brings needed size to the position. Aaron Burbridge might be the safer pick if they keep six receivers, as he could be what they need on special teams.
Tight Ends – George Kittle, Logan Paulsen and Cole Hikutini (3)
Vance McDonald will have every chance, but a better move would be to move him to a team like Baltimore, who is thin at the position, and obtain a draft pick. Same with Celek. Paulsen did not get immediate action, but has since become a redzone target in camp. Kittle will start.
Offensive Tackle – Joe Staley, Trent Brown, Garry Gilliam (3)
Staley and Brown are no-brainers and Gilliam is a good backup for this line.
Offensive Guard – Joshua Garnett, Zane Beadles, Brandon Fusco (3)
Beadles and Fusco will hold down the guard position until Garnett returns from injury.
Center – Daniel Kilgore, Tim Barnes (2)
Jeremy Zuttah’s surprising release opens the door for Barnes. Kilgore has shown that he is the better fit for the zone blocking scheme that Coach Shanahan likes to run.
Defensive Line – DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas (3)
Ronald Blair is on the bubble. He is talented, but there’s only so many spots.
Defensive Tackle – Earl Mitchell, Quinton Dial, DJ Jones (3)
D.J. Jones is having a good camp and the team is high on him.
Defensive End – Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch, Tank Carradine (3)
Aaron Lynch has shown up in shape and is looking like a contributor for 2017. Tank Carradine has been getting first team reps and may be a good fit for this defense.
Outside Linebacker – Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold (2)
Robert Saleh’s defense will feature many rotations, allowing both Brooks and Harold to get a lot of work in.
Middle Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman, Reuben Foster, Ray Ray Armstrong, Dekoda Watson (4)
Malcom Smith’s injury ensures a spot for Ray Ray Armstrong and possibly Dekoda Watson.
Cornerback – Rashard Robinson, Keith Reaser, Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson, K’Wann Williams, Will Redmond (6)
Will Redmond is the wild card here. If he pans out, this could be a deep group.
Safety – Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Lorenzo Jerome (4)
Lorenzo Jerome has had a strong camp and a lot of reps with Ward and Tartt being out. He has a fantastic chance to make the roster.
Kicker – Robbie Gould
Punter – Bradley Pinion
Long Snapper – Kyle Nelson
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