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49ers cut down roster, leave one spot open by opting for initial 52 players

© San Francisco 49ers | 2020 Aug 18

The 49ers don’t have their 53-man roster set. Most of the initial roster is in place, but after the smoke cleared, it was apparent the team decided to leave a single roster spot open.

Here’s what the roster looks like visualized. Fred Warner is currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list and it may be that the open spot is for his return, but the team does not need six linebackers, and while he’s on the list, he does not count against the roster. He also gets a three-week practice return period, so there’s no need to keep a spot to get him back to practice. The team may elect to release a linebacker like Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and be saving that spot for a free agent, or they’re trying something new by sticking with six, as a way of being overly cautious for when Warner does return.

Offensive skill positions

The questions here were whether the 49ers would keep four tight ends, four running backs and six wide receivers, which is exactly what they did. JaMycal Hasty had a stellar camp but was on the outside looking in due to the quality ahead of him and Jauan Jennings is a casualty of the fact that he plays the slot, where the 49ers have too much depth, and isn’t a return candidate. That extra spot could still be used for a player like Mohamed Sanu, though he’s also used frequently in the slot.

 Offensive line

No surprises here. Hroniss Grasu did not appear to be a capable NFL center. If Ben Garland is still unavailable by Week 1, Daniel Brunskill will start there. It’s leaning that way at this point, giving the concern head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch expressed about Garland’s return timetable. Weston Richburg will be eligible to come off PUP starting in Week 6.

Defensive line

The one surprise here is that Ronald Blair remained on PUP for the regular season, meaning he, along with Richburg and Jullian Taylor, cannot return until at least after Week 6. Shanahan had expressed some confidence that Blair could return in the early weeks of the season. It leaves the 49ers slightly thin at EDGE, and with one extra roster spot, you have to wonder if the team brings in a free agent EDGE.


It’s unclear if the 49ers are just keeping that last spot warm for Fred Warner, but either way, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles is on the team. A convert from safety to linebacker who was on the practice squad last year, he impressed this training camp, and followed the 49ers’ trend of opting for youth at linebacker, rather than the veteran Joe Walker.

Defensive backs

No surprises here. The only question really was whether Marcell Harris or the veteran Johnathan Cyprien would make the team. Harris has serious coverage deficiencies but a propensity for big plays, and he won the spot.

Special teams

The following is from the 49ers, detailing the cuts and roster moves:

The San Francisco 49ers today announced they have released 23 players as well as waived/injured OL Ross Reynolds. The team also activated WR Deebo Samuel from the Active/Non-Football Injury List and placed DL Ronald Blair III, C Weston Richburg and DL Jullian Taylor on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List.

The following players have been released:

Pos.        Name                                     

DL           Alex Barrett

WR          River Cracraft

S              Johnathan Cyprien

DL           Darrion Daniels

LB            Evan Foster

OL           Hroniss Grasu

TE           MarQueis Gray

TE           Chase Harrell

CB           Tim Harris Jr.

RB           JaMycal Hasty

FB           Josh Hokit

WR          Jauan Jennings

CB           Dontae Johnson

OL           Jaryd Jones-Smith

DL           Dion Jordan

DL           Cameron Malveaux

S              Jared Mayden

WR          Shawn Poindexter

OL           Dakoda Shepley

OL           William Sweet

CB           Jamar Taylor

LB            Joe Walker

WR          Kevin White


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