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49ers roster: 40 locks and the 13 spots up for grabs


SANTA CLARA — We’ve seen enough of training camp to anticipate who will make the 49ers’ 53-man roster. Let’s dive right in.

40 locks

QB Brian Hoyer — Arguably the top player in training camp. His grasp of Kyle Shanahan’s offense is the main reason the 49ers will be competitive in 2017.

QB Matt Barkley — He’s made a handful of plays, but he’s been prone to turnovers and miscues. If an injury occurs to Hoyer, the 49ers will be in rough shape under Barkley’s direction. I bet Shanahan is not happy with the way this signing has worked out so far.

QB C.J. Beathard — The rookie lets it rip, but he’s been inaccurate far too many times to consider training camp a major success. His occasional second-team reps are more a byproduct of Barkley’s struggles.

RB Carlos Hyde — He’s been a man on a mission in camp, treating each practice like it’s a regular season game. It would surprising if he wasn’t the Week 1 starter.

RB Tim Hightower — Nobody runs the outside zone play as effectively as Hightower. You can tell he has a feel for how this offense operates. He’s been one of the biggest surprises in camp

RB Joe Williams — Thursday was the hardest Williams has run so far in a quiet camp for the fourth-round pick.

OW Kyle Juszczyk — He’s lined up at fullback, tight end, running back and outside receiver. Shanahan is going to make “Juice” the ultimate week-to-week matchup player, depending on who the opponent is.

WR Pierre Garcon — He’s as fearless over the middle as any receiver in the NFL. The upgrade at the receiver position has been so noticeable.

WR Marquise Goodwin — If he stays healthy, Goodwin could end up being one of the biggest steals in free agency.

WR Aldrick Robinson — No. 19 has shown up every day in the stat sheet. He’s more than just a deep threat, too. Before camp I thought he’d be on the bubble, but Robinson’s been the third best receiver in practice.

WR Trent Taylor — He’s nipping on Jeremy Kerley’s heels in the slot and likely will win the punt returning job in the preseason.

TE George Kittle — The fifth-round pick is a lock, despite missing most of camp so far with a hamstring.

LT Joe Staley — He’s had some fun battles with Elvis Dumervil to start camp.

LG Joshua Garnett — If he doesn’t win a starting job in his second season, the former first-round pick will be another year away from being considered a draft bust. He’s currently battling Zane Beadles.

C Daniel Kilgore — The trade for Jeremy Zuttah has motivated Kilgore, now in his seventh season with the 49ers.

RG Brandon Fusco — The player most 49ers have never heard of is bringing stability to the offensive line. He started 30 games the last two seasons for the Vikings.

RT Trent Brown — One of the most athletic linemen in the NFL, Brown hopes to be the beneficiary of the 49ers’ beefed up defensive line. He’s getting a ton of different looks each practice, where his development is being aided.

G Zane Beadles — He’s in direct competition with Garnett at left guard and may ultimately still keep the position he played well at in 2016.

DL DeForest Buckner — We all know he can pass rush, but the 49ers are eager to see how improved he is as a run defender.

DL Solomon Thomas — He’s been disruptive with the second-team six days into camp. If Thomas has a strong rookie season, the entire defense will feel the effects.

DL Earl Mitchell — The 49ers were missing a strong nose tackle in 2016. Mitchell changes everything in the middle.

DL D.J. Jones — The sixth-round pick has shown freakish athletic ability for a 321-pounder.

LEO Arik Armstead — Year three in the NFL is shaping up to be Armstead’s most anticipated yet. The slimmed down pass rusher was seen eating a salad Thursday outside the facility.

LEO Elvis Dumervil — A low-risk, high-reward potential signing. There’s clearly still some gas left in the tank from the 33-year-old. He’ll be a nickel pass rushing specialist.

LEO Aaron Lynch — Instead of a starter, Lynch becomes a fresher rotational pass rusher for the 49ers. That could end up being the best role for him.

SAM Ahmad Brooks — The ageless wonder can still check tight ends and running backs in the open field. He’s very happy the 49ers have installed a simplified scheme.

MIKE NaVorro Bowman — On his best day, he’s still one of the best defensive players in the league. His position has more of an emphasis against the run than the pass.

WILL Malcolm Smith — Would be surprising if he’s not the Week 1 starter. Smith’s been consistent against the run and pass in training camp.

WILL Reuben Foster — Two years from now, he could be the best player on the entire roster.

WILL Ray-Ray Armstrong — I’m willing to call Armstrong a lock, who added another interception on Thursday. He’s very flexible in coverage and could potentially play Eric Reid’s position in an injury pinch.

CB Rashard Robinson — Success on defense hinges on Robinson’s ability to shut down the best receivers in the NFL. I think he can do it — I’m just not so sure he can for 16 straight weeks his second year into the league.

CB Dontae Johnson — Opposing offensive coordinators are going to attack Johnson, just as Marquise Goodwin has been doing all of training camp. But he’s the best the 49ers have at No. 2 cornerback.

CB — K’Waun Williams — A player assistant coach Jeff Hafley thinks can be one of the best slot cornerbacks in the entire league.

CB — Ahkello Witherspoon — It could take a week or two before the dust settles from that Carlos Hyde hit. Witherspoon’s athletic but raw and isn’t really competing for a starting spot.

FS Jimmie Ward — He should transition fine to safety, but all these missed training camp reps because of his hamstring could impact the entire secondary come September.

SS Eric Reid — Box safety seems like the best position fit for him possible. A contract year generally produces top-notch performances and I bet we see that from Reid in 2017.

SS Jaquiski Tartt — Finally given an opportunity to play more, Tartt suffered injured ribs and is watching undrafted rookies inch closer to him on the depth chart.

P Bradley Pinion — The Kezar Stadium practice MVP from 2016 has no competition at punter.

K Robbie Gould — Teammates love his personality.

LS Kyle Nelson — He’s in.

13 spots up for grabs

Running back bubble (one spot)

Matt Breida — From a pure running back standpoint, Breida has so much upside. But the 49ers could need this position to play special teams. And if Breida has a poor preseason, his spot won’t be 100 percent guaranteed.

Kapri Bibbs — He’s shiftier and more athletic than he initially seems. Hightower’s emergence is probably going to be too much for Bibbs to overcome.

Raheem Moshert — The Chip Kelly holdover has been competitive but will need to tear down the roof in the preseason to make the roster.

Wide receiver bubble (two spots open) 

Jeremy Kerley — I don’t think Kerley’s spot in 100 percent safe even after signing a $10.5 million deal in March. He’s been productive at camp, there are just younger players competing with him and the 49ers could bet on potential for final spots.

Kendrick Bourne — I’m predicting a breakout preseason performance from the 6-foot-1 Eastern Washington product. He hasn’t looked like an undrafted guy early in camp. He’s physical and fast.

Victor Bolden Jr. — He’s slippery once the ball gets in his hands and he’s proven to be a tough cover for bigger cornerbacks.

Aaron Burbridge — Never say never, but Burbridge is facing an uphill climb to make the roster. A few big plays in the preseason could change that, but there is more talent ahead of him.

DeAndre Smelter — It was a good run.

DeAndre Carter — It was a good run.

Tim Patrick — He’s by far the tallest receiver, but that really doesn’t mean much to Shanahan.

Louis Murphy — Seems like an unnecessary pickup, considering the 49ers are lacking depth at the cornerback position.

Tight end bubble (two spots up for grabs)

Vance McDonald — It would be mildly stunning to see the 49ers cut McDonald, who has arguably been the most consistent tight end in camp. Trent Baalke overpaid for him, but McDonald is still a viable receiving threat underneath.

Logan Paulsen — He’s a devastating blocker who Shanahan also likes to use as a decoy in the red zone. He’s sitting in a good position to make the roster, but not 100 percent safe.

Cole Hikutini — He’ll have one strong day of practice, and then two days where he disappears. It’s closer to 50-50 whether or not he’s a practice squad or a 53-man roster guy.

Garrett Celek — It’s been mostly quiet at training camp for Celek, a player Shanahan touted during his final press conference before summer break.

Blake Bell — It would take a long shot, but he’s not having a poor camp by any stretch of the imagination.

Backup offensive linemen bubble (two kept)

Jeremy Zuttah — Some early camp fumble exchange problems have kept him mostly with the second unit.

Garry Gilliam — Some thought he’d have a legit chance of pushing Brown at right tackle. Now he’s praying the 49ers keep eight offensive linemen — which they might not.

Daryl Williams Jr. — Of all the young offensive linemen, the undrafted rookie out of Kentucky has stood out. Seems like more of a practice squad situation, but don’t count out Williams Jr. entirely.

Defensive linemen bubble (two kept)

Tank Carradine — The fact that he’s been holding down Solomon Thomas’ spot at big defensive end with the starters bodes well for Carradine.

Ronald Blair III — The sixth-round pick carved out a niche role last season, but despite the success in year one, he doesn’t appear to be a slam dunk for the final roster.

Quinton Dial — He’s good enough to play in the NFL, it just might not be for the 49ers in 2017.

Chris Jones — He’s feisty and is a good rotational guy, but the 49ers are just running out of spots.

Backup linebacker bubble (One kept)

MIKE Brock Coyle — Special teams ace might run out of room in the linebackers room.

SAM Eli Harold — A concussion will keep him sidelined at least a couple of days. Not good timing for the 2015 third-round pick

LEO Pita Taumoepenu — A very uneventful training camp will likely lead to the practice squad for the sixth-round pick

SAM Dekoda Watson — He’s become a favorite of teammates and coaches because of his personality. Regardless of personal feelings, Watson’s facing stiff competition to make the roster.

Cornerbacks bubble (two kept)

Keith Reaser — A knee injury has kept him out most of camp. He’s about the same skill level as Dontae Johnson, but he still might miss the roster.

Will Redmond — K’Waun Williams is clearly ahead of Redmond in the nickel competition. Redmond’s probably 50-50 at this point to make the team.

Prince Charles Iworah — Haven’t seen much from sweet Prince. This part of the depth chart is in serious need of veteran help

Will Davis — Has been on the receiving end of several torching sessions by wide receivers in camp. Would be shocking if he made the roster.

Zach Franklin — A lower leg injury to the undrafted rookie is going to be make it mostly impossible for him to make the 53-man roster.

Safety bubble (two kept)

FS Lorenzo Jerome — I almost put the undrafted rookie as a lock, but let’s see him in the preseason. He’s started three days of practice in a row at deep safety, the most important position in the 49ers’ system.

SS Chanceller James — Arguably the hardest-hitting player in the secondary. He’s fighting his ass off to make this team.

SS Vinnie Sunseri — Started in place of Eric Reid and Jaquiski Tartt. He has a fighting chance, but the undrafted guys listed above him are clearly more athletic.

SS Don Jones — Not looking food for the fifth-year veteran.

 

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