49ers 53-man roster prediction 1.0

San Francisco held its rookie minicamp over the weekend. What better time for a ridiculously early look at how the 49ers 53-man roster will shake out.

Quarterback: (3) Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, Sam Darnold

Purdy is the leader in the clubhouse after winning eight in a row. Surgery to repair the elbow injury suffered during the NFC championship game loss puts his status in doubt. The next update will come around 12 weeks post-surgery which is June 2. Stay tuned.

With Purdy on the shelf, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold will compete for the opportunity to start. This will be an interesting one to keep an eye on, but Lance should be able to get the nod.

Running Back: (4) Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Ty Davis-Price

McCaffrey is the unquestioned starter. Mason took over the “closer” role late in the year in Mitchell’s absence. Those two will compete for the second running back role while Davis-Price fights to stay on the roster.

Fullback: (1) Kyle Juszczyk

Juszczyk is a lock to make the roster. The only question is if his versatility affords the 49ers the ability to keep just three tight ends on the roster.

Wide Receiver: (6) Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Danny Gray, Ronnie Bell (R)

One through four are set. Last year the 49ers kept just five receivers on their initial 53-man roster. If they choose to go that route again it will make for a tough decision. Danny Gray brings speed, while Bell showed the ability fight for the ball during rookie minicamp.

Tight End: (4) George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Cameron Latu (R), Brayden Willis (R)

Dwelley’s ability to contribute on special teams earns him the nod over Charlie Woerner. Latu has the ability as a blocker to replace Woerner’s role in the offense.

Willis shows ability as a move tight end but is likely the odd man out if the team decided to go with just three.

Offensive Line: (8) Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Colton McKivitz, Jon Feliciano, Nick Zakelj, Jaylon Moore

San Francisco returns four starters from a season ago. Colton McKivitz is penciled in to replace Mike McGlinchey at right tackle. Spencer Burford could be called upon to compete there as well after starting at right guard last season.

Look for Jon Feliciano to compete for a starting role at right guard. The veteran has played all three interior spots in his career.

Defensive Line: (9) Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave, Drake Jackson, Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens, Clelin Ferrell, Kalia Davis, Robert Beal Jr. (R)

San Francisco will look to Drake Jackson to replace Samson Ebukam as the starting defensive end opposite Nick Bosa. Kerry Hyder Jr. and Austin Bryant end up being the odd men out due to the special teams ability of the rookie Robert Beal Jr.

Veteran T.Y. McGill will provide competition along the interior of the defensive line as will undrafted free agent Spencer Waege.

Linebacker: (6) Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Marcelino McCrary-Ball, Jalen Graham (R)

San Francisco is stacked at linebacker.

Burks is a special teams ace who can start and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles has shown that ability as well.

Marcelino McCrary-Ball was impressive during training camp last year. He and Jalen Graham make the roster over Dee Winters. Graham looked better than Winters during rookie minicamp.

Cornerback: (5) Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Isaiah Oliver, Samuel Womack, Darrell Luter Jr. (R)

Isaiah Oliver replaces Jimmie Ward as the starting nickelback.

The 49ers seemed to have lost faith in Ambry Thomas last year and is replaced by Darrell Luter Jr. on the roster. The rookie’s ability to play press man coverage makes him a better fit for new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks’ scheme.

Safety: (4) Talanoa Hufanga, Tashaun Gipson, George Odum, Ji’Ayir Brown (R)

No surprises here. Gipson will start with Brown pushing for snaps. Odum is a special teams ace.

Specialists: (3) Jake Moody (R), Mitchell Wishnowsky, Taybor Pepper

A lot of fans were moody over the 49ers taking a kicker in the third round; however the former Michigan standout’s strong leg will pay big dividends this season.

This article has 18 Comments

    1. As Jack says, guesses as to who makes the team are just that. Guesses. TC will tell us who is serious. I hope Dee shows us more than he did in rookie play and I think he will. Cannot see Price making the team unless there is no competition at RB. He needs a great camp to stay. Agree with Jack that Wilis is intriguing. Hope he makes the team.

  1. Regarding TE, I think it will be Kittle, Latu, Willis, and Fumagalli, with Dwelley leaving.

    There must be something I’m missing about Latu. I just don’t see it, and right now I’d put him in the same file with Sermon and Davis-Price, another 3rd round overreach. I’m probably wrong, but we’ll just have to see.

    Regarding Willis, he fell into our lap and they’re very fortunate. I think he’s an awesome football player who will help us all over the field. He’s so into the game and being a teammate that I’ll stick my neck out and say he’ll be on the same trajectory as Kittle.

    1. George, we will need a replacement for Kittle soon, let’s hope Willis can fill his shoes!

  2. Good drop, Jack.
    Everything looks reasonable here. No big surprises, Charley Woener has not established himself in the offense and Thomas pretty much lost the starting job towards the end of 2021.

    Also, I was a little surprised to see Graham getting more ink than Winters because leading up to the rookie camp many pundits were high on Dee Winters. But, at this stage, it’s too soon to visually place one player over another.

    When the “hitting” starts in TC, we’ll have a much clearer view of the 53 man roster.

  3. I really want Womack to beat out Isaiah Oliver at the Nickel CB spot. I love that kids tenacity. That O-line group is just flat out roster malpractice. Does anyone know how to do the vomit emoji on this blog?

    1. The OL will certainly be operating under a microscope. That said, I imagine a lot of folks thought it was going to be a disaster last year with Brendel, Burford, and Banks all getting their first starting nods… didn’t turn out too bad, so I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

      1. Every year some fans are convinced the O line is horrible and yet every year at the end the O line ranks high in their performance. I think the same will happen this year. Fans just don’t have the same ability to evaluate players as do the professionals.

        1. This all depends on the metrics used.
          According to ESPN, SF had a Pass Blocking win rate of 59% which ranked 20th and run blocking win rate of 71% which ranked 17th.

          Overall its a middle of the Pack Oline… the problem comes when you compare them vs the 2 superbowl teams which ranked significantly higher.

    2. On the O line. Don’t over react . Left side is very good. Center and right guard will work itself out, even if it
      continues to be a rotation (Feliciano?). You may have a point at right tackle, but I’ll stay optimistic !
      I really liked Womack last year, but Oliver has a lot of experience , and the body type to excel. Also as a blitzer.

  4. Last year’s Oline (young players) held up well. Banks and Burford should be better this year with a year of experience under their belt. Brendel was a pleasant surprise. He took over a position that he never played before in the NFL and acquitted himself better than expected. I’m not down on this group at all, and expect them to be even better in 2023.

    1. Brendel was the backup C the year before. He played C a lot in camp and preseason prior to last year.

      The offensive line is sketch but it such makes me think they are going to us a lot of PA and boot which makes me think Trey Lance is going to be the guy.

  5. Great rundown…I think that there will be some surprises when the final 53 is announced…and maybe a few of the younger vets will be missing, in favor of some late round picks and UDFA’s…special teams contribution will be a factor, but
    RB Kahlin Leborn, and DE Spencer Waege come to mind as do OL Joey Fisher and Ill Manning….

    1. 55
      I see Waege, Fisher and Manning on the PS. I think it will be an open competition during the preseason between Leborn and TDP and I think in the end our RB#3 will be Leborn.

      1. Coach, got a question for you. I don’t doubt TDP’s spot is in jeopardy. But in looking at the Laborn highlight videos, do you see anything that special? He’s elusive but not a burner. Also, his level of college competition was suspect and he’s going to take a pounding. I’d say he’s “ok.”

        One thing I’ll say about our RBs in general is that I think we have 2 and a half good ones: CMC, Mason and Mitchell. He’s the half. Not encouraging if something happens to Christian, and I hope they bring some others in.

        1. George,
          Laborn possesses the trait that I value in a RB the most, great vision. Everything else about him is Avg. to slightly above Avg But his vision separates him especially from TDP. I also value his character. He was removed from the team at FSU after his Frosh year for “breaking team rules” He could have transferred and played his Soph year at another school but in stead he decided to stop playing football but continued to attend school for the next 2 years. He returned to football and played his Jr. and Sr. year at Marshall. He has earned his BA and is almost finished with his Masters.

  6. To many variables involved per game in the NFL that could advance or marginalize an Oline.
    And no, the best Olines don’t always win a SB. Packers, Ravens and Atlanta were rated top 5 in 2022.

    But on the other hand, Philadelphia and the Chiefs were also ranked in the top 5 and played each other in the SB.
    But unlike the Packers, Ravens and Atlanta, the Eagles and Chiefs had better overall talent.

    Sure, there is room for the 49ers to grow and be better at the offensive line, but let’s not forget that because of their overall team talent, their window is still very much open to make it to the Superbowl.

  7. Before some of the naysayers throw dirt in Sam Darnold’s face, please reconsider that he was the highest drafted of the three QB’s on our roster ( OK 4 ). Sam had the repeat of the 2005 draft of Smith/Rogers debacle. It always happens that the best players get drafted first because they’re gonna’ get taken by the worst team from the year ago. It seldom happens that a QB or RB fights his way back after being drafted high to reach the SB, but remember Plunkett and OJ both did it, and it would not surprise me to see Sam also do it….remember that Sam had the strongest, and most accurate arm of the finalists back in 2020, and probably still does. He deserves a chance… I’d rather have a healthy Alex Smith than any or all of them….

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