49ers Week 1 active roster and depth chart predictions

Now that I’ve seen three training camp practices, here is my prediction for the 49ers’ Week 1 46-man active roster and depth chart.

Quarterback: Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, Jeff Driskel.

Prediction: Each quarterback will start at least three games.

Running back: Carlos Hyde, Shaun Draughn, Kelvin Taylor.

Prediction: DuJuan Harris will get cut because he has bad hands.

Tight end: Garrett Celek, Vance McDonald.

Prediction: Celek will start because he’s better than McDonald at catching passes in traffic.

Move tight end: Bruce Miller, Vance McDonald.

Prediction: Miller will start because he’s one of the best players on the offense and McDonald is just a guy.

Left wide receiver: Quinton Patton, DeAndre Smelter.

Prediction: Patton will start 16 games and catch 45 passes.

Slot wide receiver: Bruce Ellington, DeAndrew White.

Prediction: Ellington will start eight games and pull a muscle. Then, Aaron Burbridge, not DeAndrew White, will take Ellington’s place place as the starting slot receiver.

Right wide receiver: Torrey Smith, DeAndre Smelter.

Prediction: Smith will start 16 games and catch 50 passes.

Left tackle: Joe Staley, Trent Brown.

Left guard: Zane Beadles, Marcus Martin.

Center: Daniel Kilgore, Marcus Martin.

Right guard: Joshua Garnett, Marcus Martin.

Right tackle: Anthony Davis, Trent Brown.

Prediction: Trent Brown will be the starting right tackle by the end of the season.

Left defensive end: Arik Armstead, Tony Jerod-Eddie.

Nose tackle: Glenn Dorsey, Mike Purcell.

Right defensive end: Quinton Dial, DeForest Buckner.

Prediction: Buckner will replace Dial on third downs.

Left outside linebacker: Ahmad Brooks, Tank Carradine.

Left inside linebacker: Gerald Hodges, Ray Ray Armstrong.

Right inside linebacker: NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite.

Right outside linebacker: Eli Harold, Tank Carradine.

Prediction: Bowman will lead the linebackers in sacks while Aaron Lynch is suspended.

Left cornerback: Tramaine Brock, Dontae Johnson.

Slot cornerback: Will Redmond, Keith Reaser.

Right cornerback: Jimmie Ward, Dontae Johnson.

Prediction: Ward, Redmond and Rashard Robinson will be the starting corners by the end of the season.

Free safety: Eric Reid, L.J. McCray.

Strong safety: Antoine Bethea, Jaquiski Tartt.

Prediction: Reid and Tartt will be the starting safeties by the end of the season.

Punt returner: Bruce Ellington, DeAndrew White.

Punter: Bradley Pinion.

KickerPhil Dawson.

Long snapper: Kyle Nelson.

Inactives: WR Aaron Burbridge, CB Rashard Robinson, G/T Fahn Cooper, OT John Theus, TE Blake Bell, OLB Corey Lemonier, DE Ronald Blair.

Suspended: OLB Aaron Lynch.

This article has 94 Comments

  1. Grant, why do predict Trent will start at RT by the end of the season? Skill or Injury? Glad to see Redmond dispelling the moans and groans thus far….

      1. If I remember correctly, Davis missed very little time his first 4 seasons. In 2014 he seemed to fall apart. I think those three long, physical seasons 2011, 2012, 2013 took a toll on alot of players.

        Which AD will we get? The 2010-2013 Iron Man AD, or the 2014 oft injured AD?

        The one wildcard is concussions. Once a player starts getting those, they seem to happen with increased frequency.

      2. True, but before that he never missed a game in his career. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before they move him up to the first unit.

        1. I think they’ll move Davis and Garnett up together. They currently are both with the third team.

  2. Love how he calls McDonald “just a guy”. The more drivel that you spew out, Grant… the more I dislike you.

    1. Vance McDonald is more than just a guy? That’s the hill you’re gonna die on? Have fun James.

    2. Cohn must be jealous of McDonald in some way. Jealousy breeds envy. McDonald is much better at his craft than he is. Cohn is “just a guy.”

      1. Vance has a tendency to drop balls. He even lets them clank off his hands for interceptions.

        You are right. Vance MacDonald is not ‘Just a guy’, he is ‘just a liability’. Hope he corrects his deficiencies, or he will be long gone.

        Attacking the messenger is par for the course around here. Maybe you are the envious one, but no one should be jealous of VM.

        1. Then report that (dropping passes etc) in a professional way. “Just a guy” portrays Cohn as immature, unprofessional, and an unreliable source. I understand having opinions and sharing, but it can be done more effectively.

  3. Grant: I’m not sure I understand the following:

    “Slot wide receiver: Bruce Ellington, DeAndrew White.
    Prediction: Ellington will start eight games and pull a muscle. Then, Aaron Burbridge, not DeAndrew White, will take Ellington’s place place as the starting slot receiver.”

    So are you saying that White has the advantage over Burbridge at the moment, but after eight games, Burbridge will be ahead of White?

    1. Correct. White is the backup punt returner, so he’ll be active. Slot receiver is a new position for Burbridge. Once he gets more time at the position in practice, he eventually will pass White on the WR depth chart.

    1. Patton is better after the catch than those two. Niners can use Patton on end arounds and jet sweeps, similar to the way the Panthers used Ginn last season.

      1. Isn’t Ginn much faster than Patton? For those types of plays speed helps quite a bit doesn’t it?

          1. Ellington ran a 4.37 and 4.31 forty, for a 4.34 average at his pro day. Patton ran a 4.53 at the combine, and a 4.48 pro day.

        1. Yes, but Patton is effective on those plays. I think he’ll average about 15 yards per catch.

        1. He’d be good at them too, but how often does the slot receiver run an end around?

          1. I guess I’m thinking more of the fly sweep type of stuff like Harbaugh/Roman used him for in that Chargers game back in 2014.

  4. Overall lineup seems plausible. I’m not sure Baalke will have the stomach to cut Thomas though. 3 RB’s also seems light considering Hyde’s injury history.

          1. Thomas was a 3rd so cutting a 5th in favor of a 3rd would be easier to accept I would think.

        1. Fahn Cooper strikes me as a lock to make it, largely due to his successful stint backing up Laremy Tunsil. Maybe it won’t translate into NFL success, but I wouldn’t bet against his workman’s character.

        1. Good guess. Makes sense. In that case, the Niners would have:

          LT: Staley, Theus*
          LG: Beadles, Cooper*
          C: Kilgore, Martin
          RG: Garnett, Thomas*
          RT: Davis, Brown
          LDE: Armstead, Blair*
          NT: Dorsey, Purcell
          RDE: Dial, Buckner

          * — inactive

  5. Kap will start. Your receivers are right but to predict an injury is coming from a strange place. Your defense is spot on except Ward will be permanent nickel and Tartt will replace bethea before season ends.

  6. A warning to all:

    While on this site I suddenly got a big window labelled “Urgent Chrome Update”. It also downloaded a .bat file onto my computer. I immediately deleted the file which was in my download folder. Subsequent internet searches show that this is new malware making the rounds, so don’t run the bat file. Some think it might encrypt the data on your hard drive. Ransomware, maybe.

    1. Cubus,

      Do you not have pop up blockers on your security? If not you should look into it.

      1. Well I have Norton AV and Malwarebytes. I thought that one of these two would provide protection, but I haven’t thought about popup blockers per se. What are you using?

      2. McAfee is what I use for the most part. Norton should have pop up blockers in it though.

      3. Popup blockers aren’t fail proof though Razor. Hackers and the other types of riff-raff keep creating new malware that can get past your security’s defenses. They can get mostly everything, but one Trojan or virus can slip through depending on the circumstances.

        1. This is why you shouldn’t rely on definition-based software alone… While effective against common variants of malware, they won’t do much against ransomware (neither will popup blockers) and you’ll never get your data back unless you pay $$$$: http://www.surfright.nl/en/alert

          If you truly want to keep your data safe, back it up offsite or at least outside of your LAN.

    2. Thanks for the heads up. Bat files bring back memories of the deep, dark days of DOS. Pain in the behind, but I had far more control over my computer.

      1. This “popup” downloaded the .bat file without me pressing any buttons or clicking on any links. It just appeared and started downloading.

              1. Snowden is a new Oliver Stone movie. Should be interesting. I’m all for transparency and whistleblower protections, especially in an era of zero civilian privacy and total governmental opacity.


  7. Grant, I like this roster prediction format. The predictions are particularly interesting.

    – “Each quarterback will start at least three games.” Kelly’s quarterbacks seemed to go down like Spinal Tap drummers. The band just rolls right along. If the season’s in shambles by December, I could see Kelly wanting a look at Driskel. My prediction is Driskel won’t start, but its possible.

    – I think Kelly might want to carry more than three running backs.

    – I always thought McDonald will either flop, or be much more than a JAG if/when the light bulb goes on because of his physical attributes.

    – Ellington has a bad injury record. I’d be stunned if he played a full season. Nice to see Smelter in the rotation. He could do some damage turning up-field on a bubble screen.

    – I think Dial starts the season at NT. if not, then Purcell. Dorsey eventually takes over at NT.

    – “Ward, Redmond and Rashard Robinson will be the starting corners by the end of the season.” Robinson has lots of talent, but I’m concerned after he walked away from the DB coach while the coach was talking to him. What to do with Brock?

    – Think Bethea will get hurt? I think his experience will be valuable in O’Neil’s system.

    1. I think Kelly keeps four RBs only if one can return punts, and none of them can. And I think odds are against Bethea staying healthy.

  8. Is Hodges multipurpose enough for Oneil’s defense, and we know NFL teams will test Buckner, Armstead, Dial. Can Oneil handle run support?

  9. The Niners 2nd team might be decent – possibly in the upper decile in the league. Unfortunately the Niners 1st team is one of the worst. This is due in large part to the Baalke strategy of hoarding 3rd, 4th and 5th round picks and whiffing on 1st and 2nd rounders. Why not trade up and draft the undisputed bad-ass.

    This is a make or break season for Hyde. What has he ever done? He has had one very good game but it was also the first game of the season. I can produce numerous examples of performances which were game 1 anomalies. No more excuses.

    Make or break for Baalke and Jed also.

  10. Good lineup Grant and for the most part I agree, though you did champion McDonald to the point I made him a starter and you made him 2nd string and soon to be out of a job! What gives!?

    I do like Miller though and believe he will contribute. Also agree Burbridge will make it into the rotation though I think that Rogers may yet surprise. I think Robinson’s fire and gameplay will win in the end.

    I’m surprised that no one has commented on the most surprising comment and probably the most incindiary statement. Driskel will start 3 games?! Wow! That’s bold and what do you base that on (other than the two other fellers stink)? Please illuminate us?

  11. Pretty good stab I reckon, Grant. A couple of areas I might quibble on, but likely you will go pretty close barring injury.

  12. >That’s not the fastest WR group. Is White better than Andersen or Campbell or Rogers? I had a camp crush on him last summer but I’m reading that Campbell is making plays.
    > I think Tiller is a better ballplayer than Martin, but if he doesn’t get work at OC it may be tough. Pears’ versatility will make him competitive for the 53.
    > If they keep VMac & Celek with Miller it’s an investment in the running game.
    > I don’t know what to expect from the CBs, but they’ll look bad if no pass rush.
    > I have no clue about LB play beyond Bow.
    > I like the Dial & Buckner rotation at end.
    > As the game continues its evolution to pass-happy, does Cromartie become competitive at Safety?
    Who knows all this stuff?

    1. May want to reconsider “Camp Crush” phraseology….

      There was another poster whose crush on Hayne caused a real pain ,
      pursuant to an endless supply of gameplans,
      who would have known they’d be the same plans,
      by a mindless “Fool on the Hill.”

  13. Geesh Grant! It has only been 3 practices and you are already predicting the active roster? What are you smoking. There is still a lot of training camp left and 4 preseason games. Anything can happen between now and the end of the preseason.

    I am not a fan of Quinton Patton – I think he’s garbage. The preseason will determine who will start opposite Torrey Smith.

    Also, your predictions for how many catches Smith and Patton (it will be someone else) are way, way low. Didn’t the receivers Chip Kelly had at Philly had career years when he was coaching there? 50 catches for Torrey Smith on an uptempo offense is insanely low.

    1. Last season Chip Kelly’s outside receivers (Cooper and Agholor) combined to catch 44 passes.

      1. Honestly didn’t watch many eagles games…. So you’re saying Matthews was in the slot all last season???

        Pretty big for a slot guy

      2. Hey Grant: I should have stated look at the wr stats for the Eagles from 2013-2014. 2015 was garbage. Also, Marcus Martin will not make the team, he is weak and passive and gets pushed back in the backfield way too often. My hope is that Alex Balducci makes it as the backup center.

  14. I see Gabbert starting 8 games and winning 4 or 5 of them. Then CK coming in do to a supposed injury and and take us to a 4-5 win again with some strategic run game and squeek into the Wildcard spot.

    I think this team will get at the minium 8-8. If we get a few breaks maybe we can get two more wins. New Couch and completly different Offense that Seattle, Arizona and LA will not be ready for.

    Since Nolan we were a run up the gut and pass for 200 yards team. This could be a quick turn around. But I have watched every game since Dennise Erickson. I have always remained optimistic. But for some strannge reason I believe in Kelly.

    1. Marcus “The Turnstile” Martin ? ..
      (Jonathon’s twin brother ?) …

      He’s still around … ?

      Why ?

  15. Blaine Gabbert: Why 49ers QB Could Make His First Pro Bowl in 2016

    by Chandler Wright 5 hours ago Follow @ChanChan753

    It’s probably the worst-kept secret that Kelly prefers Gabbert to Kap. But, why is that?

    Kaepernick can run wild on NFL defenses, and he’s still one of the best at it, but Gabbert can run well too. Gabbert, though, does things Kaepernick either can’t or doesn’t want to. Niner Noise’s Robert Smith wrote about Gabbert’s ability to run offenses efficiently in his article Why Blaine Gabbert Will Win 49ers Starting Quarterback Battle.

  16. It is a good list Grant; however, it has a conundrum in regards to Patton. He makes too many mental mistakes that will keep him from 45 catches, and it will for low yardage if he does get to that number. I also do not see Brown supplanting Davis because I believe the 49ers will be trying to increase his value in order to trade him after the season. Bethea should also maintain his starting role throughout the season unless he gets injured . Finally, Robinson is better served not being rushed to the starting lineup because he needs to ready to play the role and not just look like it; instead, I look for Reaser or Johnson to be a starter next to Ward and Redmond.

      1. Thanks Razor. I am sory to say that I won’t be able to do a fantasy league this year due to personal reasons, online college course work, and my lap top currently trying to give up the ghost. All of that has required my unadulterated attention, which has also resulted in forcing me to spend less time on here. I am hoping that I can do a fantasy league next year and continue to do so each of the following years without any interruption.

          1. I would want to do it again, but everyone needs to have some skin in the game to take it seriously- I would trust sending you $25, or whatever, no worries.

            1. Being serious and wanting to make a buck or two is nice, but that wasn’t the reason I made the league. I made it so my fellow 49er comrades could have fun testing their ability in creating a team. Having money involved would have ostracized those who don’t have the funds to do so or are against gambling with money.

  17. I think the team should look into trading for WR Cordarelle Patterson from Vikings and DE Dion Jordan from Dolphins. They seem like Baalke type players…failed early round players I think can contribute to the team

    1. Ruben-
      If the Vikes couldn’t make use of a High Draft Pick, how is he going to help SF? I think he’s a terrific athlete but not the smartest arrow in the quill. Chip’s system requires judgement. Also, the NFL is trying to get rid of the KOR; reducing his value.
      There was a joke years ago when the Falcons traded a former #1 pick, Aundrey Bruce to the Chargers. The joke ws the compensation for the trade:
      – a 3rd round pick if he can find San Diego on the first try –
      – a 4th round pick if not

    2. Vikings getting rid of CP is about as likely as my 3 player trades, but he would be an upgrade….

        1. But, but, they drafted Laquon Treadwell and Moritz Boehringer. Sounds like those are improvements…..;p

  18. Wonder how long it will be again before a RB goes in the top 3 again.

  19. I’m curious to see what Rogers, Anderson, and Cajuste will do, because none of them will last on the practice squad. I also think Blair will be a Week 1 active player in an EDGE/DE rotational role.

    Nice piece. This one took real thought and hard work.

    1. Blair is the trump card, would like to see him slim down a bit and take over at OLB

  20. Grant what’s behind your QB prediction? Is it injury behind our OL in Kelly’s system? Poor play from the first 2 QB’s? Kelly searching for his QB chalking this season up as a loss? Is there something you see in Driskel that others haven’t reported?

  21. Nice predictions. However, I wish to respectfully disagree on a few of your choices.

    I think Harris has quick hips, and will out compete Draughn. He also could be used as a KO returner.

    Martin may be cut, there is so much depth, Tiller should be mentioned as a sub, but he graded out well last year, so he might win a starting job.

    Simpson gives them verticality, so he will make the squad. They may cut Driskel and put him on the PS to learn and get stronger.

    I think the Niners will go with their strengths, so they may go with a 4-3 front with Armstead, Purcell, Dial and Buckner. They may morph into a hybrid 3-4 at times, but that front 4 would be stout.

    I disagree with your Robinson prediction. He needs at least a year to bulk up and get stronger, while learning the system. Learning seems not to be one of his strong suits, so he should shut his mouth, be respectful and study hard.

    I disagree most with your Buckner prediction. By the end of the year, he will take every snap. He was a real workhorse up in Oregon.

    1. Hey, Donkey, they’re not putting Driskel on the PS for 2 reasons: (1) he’ll get taken by another team; (2) Kelly’s QBs get injured and he keeps 3. Stop with the stupidity. Thanks. Carry on.

      Oh, and don’t talk about another man’s hips.

  22. Andrew Tiller was the 4th ranked Guard in the entire league when entered the starting lineup.. how does he NOT make the final roster!?!? Tiller was clearly the best guard in preseason last year and got cut, what am I missing? I’d say Theus, Cooper and Brown make the roster on potential alone, no way in hell Martin and Thomas get the nod over Tiller.

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