Hello once again. It’s that time of year now where correspondents are frantically writing up their predictions of their team’s 53 man roster. So, I guess it’s my turn. Going back to my last article, I said the main positions to watch were the WR, QB and DL positions. I’ve seen nothing to dispute that fact in preseason so far – but there are many tough decisions ahead. So then, the 53 man roster, in the mind of me, JP:
QB: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Scott Tolzien – I feel that the top two spots were sewn up here long ago, so the only real question was if the 49ers would keep 4 QBs, and if not, which of Tolzien and Johnson would survive? If I’m making this decision – and I am – first of all, no 4 QBs. It’s a complete waste of a roster spot that will undoubtedly be needed to keep a promising player elsewhere. And when talking about Johnson or Tolzien, for me it has to be Tolzien. Not only does he look capable of going into an NFL game right now, but he looks to be on the ‘upward curve’ that Harbaugh sometimes talks about. At this point, you have to keep the better prospect. In saying that, Johnson will catch on somewhere. (3/53)
RB: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Brandon Jacobs, Rock Cartwright, Bruce Miller – The only real battle here was between Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon for that short-yardage back role. Observe Jacobs’ efforts in game 1 against Dixon attempting the same in game 2, and it’s pretty obvious who wins this battle. Kendall Hunter has also impressed, and will begin to take more carries, I imagine. LaMichael James looks a year away from a breakout, but may well see some improvised touches in the regular season. Cartwright plays special teams. (9/53)
WR: Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, AJ Jenkins, Ted Ginn Jr, Kyle Williams – First of all, 6 are being kept. The primary reason for this in my mind is the lack of depth behind Ginn at returner – I don’t expect to see him do much on field at wideout. Of the other 5, AJ Jenkins sticks due to 1st round pick status – and, as I’ve said, will improve over time – and Kyle Williams seeks to rebound from a poor end to last season. His offseason work got him off to a good start and won him this roster spot. (15/53)
TE: Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker – Dobbs makes it as a DE, but has shown the capability to move around to TE. This frees up a spot. (17/53)
OL: Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Joe Looney, Daniel Kilgore, Mike Person, Leonard Davis, Jason Slowey – A young, improving unit. The starters make it back as a no-brainer. Kilgore and Person made the roster with solid preseason performances last year – nothing appears to have changed that. In similar vein to them, Looney and Slowey will make the roster to develop as they did last season. Leonard Davis makes it as a versatile backup with experience. (27/53)
DL: Justin Smith, Issac Sopoaga, Ray McDonald, Demarcus Dobbs, Ian Williams, Ricky-Jean Francois – In similar vein to the OL, a lot of young prospects get stashed here. Dobbs will never make it through waivers after the preseason he’s had – notwithstanding the fact he played last year anyway. RJF is supposedly the top prospect on the DL, so stays as anticipated. The surprise selection is Ian Williams. Williams’ lack of versatility looked to have spoken for him at one point in preseason – but with a solid effort so far, and a commitment to moving around as all the others can, I think he makes it. (33/53)
ILB: Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Larry Grant, Tavares Gooden – This might be the strongest unit on the side. Larry Grant could start for most teams, and will be the primary backup. Gooden makes it, as he did last year, via special teams play. (37/53)
OLB: Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith, Parys Haralson, Eric Bakhtiari – A spot opened for Eric Bakhtiari with injuries taking out Cam Johnson and Darius Fleming. Solid performances have helped him take it. (41/53)
CB: Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, Tramaine Brock – Cox has had a great camp and may prove to be a rising star for the team. Culliver will become a starter in a year’s time. Brock makes it through sheer hard work. (46/53)
S: Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner, CJ Spillman, Trenton Robinson – Top two starters, plus a backup in Spillman who can also play special teams very well. There’s a battle for that 4th spot between Trenton Robinson, Michael Thomas, Colin Jones and Darcel McBath, but something tells me they might just hold on to Robinson – a guy they wanted in the 6th, after all. If I’m gonna hedge my bets a little though, I’d probably say not to count out Colin Jones – he made it last year, to everyone’s surprise, based on special teams work. (50/53)
K: David Akers – No surprise. (51/53)
P: Andy Lee – Bigger no surprise. (52/53)
LS: Brian Jennings – The man with the creepiest face in professional sports long-snaps for another season. (53/53)
Injured Reserve: Darius Fleming – finally, he can move from the PUP list without us having to cut him. Hope he comes back strong.
Practice Squad Guesses:
Hey, look, practice squads are unpredictable as all hell. But if we’re purely keeping San Francisco players on our 8-man practice squad, these are my bets:
Brian Tyms , WR- Big-bodied reciever, not just kept for his potential, but, I would imagine, ability on the scout team to mimic receivers of similar size who we may come up against during our season.
Nathan Palmer, WR – It was between him and Chris Owusu, but I think that Chris Owusu is probably going to get claimed to someone’s active roster, if he keeps up present performance.
Konrad Reuland, TE – A near-miss again for Konrad, since he spent last year on the practice squad also. Maybe next year, with Walker out of contract?
Derek Hall, OL – Just a standard development project on the OL for the practice squad.
Matthew Masifilo, DL – Ex-Stanford scores you some points, and in a less deep DL group, might have made the roster.
Cam Johnson, OLB – Injuries cost him an active roster spot. Definitely one for the future – MAY go to IR.
Cory Nelms, CB – Speedster and raw athlete gets another year of development on the PS.
Michael Thomas, S – After just missing out on the active roster, potential special teamer and developmental safety gets onto the practice squad.
Wow. That’s it! I’m glad I’m not Trent Baalke! Anyway, that’s the way I see it. I estimate my chances of being right at about 1% – and to be honest, even if I was, there’s no guarantee that the roster would stay that way. The days after final cut down are always something of a state of flux, and anything can change. That said, I think my logic’s solid. Do you agree? Let me know. Goodbye!