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49ers Roster Predictions: Following win in Denver, who makes the cut?

© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports


Jimmy Garoppolo had a dreadful night on Monday, but that was far from the case for everyone. The 49ers’ 24-15 win over the Denver Broncos helped bring some of the team’s roster spot competitions into clearer focus, while other spots remain just as cloudy as ever to predict. Here’s what the 49ers’ roster might look like at the start of the 2019 season:

QB: 2

IN: Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens

OUT: C.J. Beathard, Wilton Speight (practice squad)

  • While the likely IR-return designation for Jerick McKinnon to start the season opens up the spot for a third quarterback, and both Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have left open that possibility, it’s hard to justify having three quarterbacks and not using the extra roster spot somewhere more useful, like on one of the lines. Nick Mullens has looked the better backup quarterback, but the difference between him and C.J. Beathard is not so chasmic that it would make a decision to keep Beathard confounding. Still, it’s hard to envision a third quarterback being more useful than an extra lineman.

FB1

IN: Kyle Juszczyk

RB3

IN: Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert

OUT: Austin Walter, Brandon Wilds, Jeff Wilson Jr.

IR-return designation: Jerick McKinnon

  • This list stays the same except for Jerick McKinnon’s likely IR-return designation status. He had a plasma-rich platelet injection after dealing with severe soreness in his knee following his return to practice. That was after a “flare up” which happened before camp began. The 49ers have more than enough depth with Coleman, Breida and Mostert (who’s looked tremendous so far), and putting McKinnon on IR has the two-pronged effect of allowing him to get back to full health and providing the 49ers with an extra roster spot for the first half of the season.

WR6

IN: Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne

OUT: Richie James Jr., Jordan Matthews, Shawn Poindexter, Malik Henry

  • The last wide receiver spot gets no easier to predict, but Kendrick Bourne showed on Saturday why he seems like he has the slight edge (in addition to being the team’s wide receiving yards leader last season). After making an inexcusable drop on a roughly 40-yard pass play thrown perfectly from C.J. Beathard, Bourne came back to make a 26-yard catch-and-run for a huge first down followed by a tremendous touchdown grab on a back shoulder fade.
  • But it’s that issue of dropping the football that could see Bourne on the outside looking in, while Richie James Jr., has looked solid in the return game (had a kickoff return nearly to midfield on Monday) and has been consistent as a wide out. Jordan Matthews, while lacking targets, has made a handful of nice grabs and has a solid red zone pedigree and a 6’3″ frame, making him impossible to rule out.
  • There is a very small chance that the 49ers take an extra wide receiver and cut an offensive lineman (the backup depth has looked concerning) with Trent Taylor potentially out for Week 1, but there’s been no indication that’s the way the 49ers are looking at the roster so far

TE3

IN: George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Kaden Smith

OUT: Levine Toilolo, Daniel Helm, Tyree Mayfield

PUP: Garrett Celek

  • This competition remains the same. Levine Toilolo’s shoulder inflammation hurt his chances significantly this past week, and at this point, there’s no reason to expect that anyone other than Kittle, Dwelley and Smith will make the roster.

OL9

IN: Joe Staley, Laken Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Mike Person, Mike McGlinchey, Justin Skule, Ben Garland, Najee Toran, Sam Young

OUT: Wesley Johnson, Joshua Garnett, Daniel Brunskill, Dillon Day, Christian DiLauro, Willie Beavers, Ross Reynolds

IR: Shon Coleman – underwent surgery on fractured fibula, dislocated ankle

  • This is a tricky area to predict, largely because of the youth and disappointment of Justin Skule and Najee Toran. It’s hard to put Josh Garnett above Toran at the moment, simply because he hasn’t been healthy enough to play, but Garnett benefits from the consistent errors Toran keeps making (had two holds at right guard, had a fumble on a snap to Nick Mullens at center on Monday). The inexperience of Justin Skule is probably the main factor in determining whether the 49ers keep another tackle on the roster, which is why Sam Young, the backup signed in the wake of Shon Coleman’s injury, makes the tentative cut here.
  • It’s the interior, however, where they could use improved backup depth, and it feels like the 49ers, who have made trades in each of the past two seasons for offensive linemen, have some assets (wide receivers, defensive linemen, draft picks) to flip for a solid interior lineman.

DL10

IN: Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Ronald Blair III, Sheldon Day, D.J. Jones, Kentavius Street, Jullian Taylor

OUT: Damontre Moore, Kevin Givens, Jamell Garcia-Williams, Jordan Thompson, Jay Bromley, Jeremiah Valoaga

  • Considering the injuries to Ford and Bosa (Ford seems less of a concern than Bosa, but few knee injuries aren’t insignificant) as well as the knocks Ronald Blair, D.J. Jones and Arik Armstead have taken throughout camp, having as much depth on the defensive line seems a pragmatic choice.
  • Kentavius Street has look completely renewed and seems to have regained his speed off the edge, while Jullian Taylor, who did not play on Monday with back stiffness, has had a solid camp.
  • Taylor is fighting for that last spot against Damontre Moore, Kevin Givens, Jordan Thompson and Jeremiah Valoaga, who looked good in Game 1 and led the team with 7 tackles (one for a loss), plus a half sack and a QB hit on Monday. Moore had a great first half before a thumb injury and both Givens and Thompson have shown glimpses of promise.

LB6

IN: Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander, Dre Greenlaw, David Mayo, Elijah Lee, Azeez Al-Shaair

OUT: Malcolm Smith, Mark Nzeocha, LaRoy Reynolds, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles

  • The competition for the final linebacker roster spot (or two, although Lee looks like a fairly safe bet) might be just as intense as the wide receiver spot. Malcolm Smith shouldn’t be ruled out, although his disappointing pair of seasons with the 49ers and inability to stay healthy don’t bode well for him. The same goes for Mark Nzeocha, who is fantastic on special teams and had a sack and tackle for a loss on Monday. LaRoy Reynolds also remains a very good coverage linebacker whose ball-tracking ability and hit power are of note too.
  • However, it’s Azeez Al-Shaair, who, for the second-straight game, has looked like the best linebacker on the field. He had 5 tackles and a pass deflection on Monday after 4 tackles (one for a loss) and a fumble recovery in the first preseason game. His projection to make the roster here is a reflection of how well he’s played thus far and his youth (an undrafted rookie). He’s been healthy, with the main injury concern the torn ACL he suffered in his senior year at Florida Atlantic University (part of why he went undrafted). The competition for that final spot is still completely up for grabs, and Al-Shaair will likely need another two stellar games to secure that spot.

CB6

IN: Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett, D.J. Reed Jr., K’Waun Williams, Emmanuel Moseley

OUT: Tim Harris Jr., Dontae Johnson

IR: Greg Mabin – sustained a serious calf injury on Wednesday

  • With Greg Mabin’s serious, potentially season-ending calf injury sustained on Wednesday, the final corner spot likely goes to Emmanuel Moseley. Tim Harris Jr., the sixth-round pick out of the University of Virginia seems a likely practice squad candidate, as he’s just not up to NFL speed as of yet.

S4

IN: Jimmie Ward, Tarvarius Moore, Jaquiski Tartt, Marcell Harris

OUT: Adrian Colbert, Antone Exum Jr.

  • This competition hasn’t changed, and the hamstring injury Colbert sustained in the first half of Monday’s game did not help his case. Tarvarius Moore looks like he’ll take the starting free safety job when the season begins, although he won’t feel secure there once/if Jimmie Ward gets healthy. Jaquiski Tartt also looked tremendous on Monday night, making 5 tackles (two for a loss) with two PBUs.

K/P/LS3

Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Colin Holba

  • The only thing to note here is the 10-game suspension of long snapper Kyle Nelson (who has to sit 6 games this season), and whether he takes his starting job back from Holba at the conclusion of his suspension
 

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