The San Francisco 49ers must cut down to their initial 53-man roster by 1:00pm Tuesday. That process has already begun with the team releasing Nate Brooks, La’Darius Hamilton, Breeland Speaks, Kyahva Trevino and Spencer Waege on Sunday.
Here is my projection on how the initial roster will shake out.
Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold, Brandon Allen
The trade of Trey Lance on Friday makes this an easy one. San Francisco sees Brock Purdy as their franchise quarterback.
Darnold has been up and down throughout his career, however this is the best situation he’s found himself in. San Francisco should be ok if they need him to step in for a game or two.
Allen is a veteran backup with options across the league. It is hard to see him staying in San Francisco as part of the practice squad.
Running Back (5)
Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Ty Davis-Price, Kyle Juszczyk
No questions here. The 49ers eliminated all possible competition for roster spots at running back weeks ago.
McCaffrey and Juszczyk are two of the best in the NFL in their positions. Mitchell and Mason are more than capable backups. The only question is if Mitchell can stay healthy and Mason hold on to the football. Mason was dependable as a rookie but has struggled with ball security during training camp.
Wide Receiver (6)
Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ronnie Bell, Ray-Ray McCloud, Danny Gray
Injuries to McCloud and Gray make it likely they will both miss the beginning of the season. As a result, the 49ers will carry six on the active roster.
Keep an eye on the practice squad for players such as Willie Snead, Tay Martin or Isaiah Winstead. Whoever lands there will likely be pulled up to the active roster early in the season.
Tight End (4)
George Kittle, Brayden Willis, Cameron Latu, Ross Dwelley
Kittle and Willis appear to be locks.
Latu suffered a knee injury in the preseason finale against the Chargers which may require surgery. If so, look for him to be replaced by Charlie Woerner or Troy Fumagalli.
Ross Dwelley makes it due to his ability to play special teams and fullback.
Offensive Line (8)
Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Colton McKivitz, Jon Feliciano, Jaylon Moore, Matt Pryor
The starting five is set.
San Francisco doesn’t have a true swing tackle on its roster right now. Expect to see Pryor as the backup to McKivitz with Moore backing up Williams. Jon Feliciano can play all three interior spots and Moore can slide inside in an emergency.
Nick Zakelj was a consideration here as well, but with Feliciano’s presence and the need for tackles he ends up on the practice squad.
Defensive Line (9)
Nick Bosa, Drake Jackson, Javon Hargrave, Arik Armstead, Clelin Ferrell, Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens, Kalia Davis, Kerry Hyder Jr.
This is dependent upon Bosa and the 49ers agreeing to terms on a new contract.
Kalia Davis missed much of camp with an injury but has been very good over the last two weeks. Hyder makes it due to his ability to play on the edge or inside.
Look for Austin Bryant to be on the roster if a Bosa deal is not done. The free agent acquisition has shown quickness off the edge and ability to set the edge in the run game.
Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Dee Winters, Jalen Graham
Flannigan-Fowles is a potential trade candidate along with Curtis Robinson.
The two rookies have been impressive, showing growth throughout the offseason program and training camp.
Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Samuel Womack, Ambry Thomas, D’Shawn Jamison
Undrafted rookie free agent D’Shawn Jamison over Isaiah Oliver is the surprise at cornerback.
Oliver was supposed to be the replacement for Jimmie Ward inside, but he has struggled throughout training camp and preseason. San Francisco has worked on having Lenoir inside with Thomas coming in to play the boundary.
Samuel Womack and Jamison also can play inside or out depending on need.
Talanoa Hufanga, Tashaun Gipson, JiAyir Brown, George Odum
The only question at safety is the health of Odum. The veteran has missed most of camp with injury but looks ready to return.
Jake Moody, Mitch Wishnowsky, Taybor Pepper
Moody missed the preseason finale with a strained quad but that is unlikely to have any effect on his place on the initial roster.