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49ers Roster Prediction: Final projection after preseason concludes



Photo Credit: Chris Mezzavilla

At long last, the preseason is over. Or at least, the preseason games are over. We’re still two weeks out from the 49ers’ season opener in Detroit against a team with a head coach who wants to remove kneecaps and with a first-round pick in Penei Sewell who is struggling mightily with his shift to right tackle. Their quarterback is Jared Goff. Anyway, here’s what the 49ers’ final 53-man roster could look like.


In (2): Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance

Out (1): Nate Sudfeld

Changes from previous projection: None

You can’t waste a roster spot on a third quarterback, even though Nate Sudfeld may be better than both Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. Bring him back on the practice squad. The 49ers effectively gave him a bonus already by guaranteeing $252,000, which is significant, so there shouldn’t be hard feelings here.


In (5): Kyle Juszczyk, Raheem Mostert, Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell, Wayne Gallman

Out (2): JaMycal Hasty, Josh Hokit

PUP (1): Jeff Wilson Jr.

Changes from previous projection: Swapped Gallman and Hasty

Take your pick here. Wayne Gallman or JaMycal Hasty. Most people would probably choose Hasty, given his youth, effectiveness as a runner, and the fact that he’s just unbelievably entertaining to watch. He makes a three-yard run look incredible, but his height is a legitimate problem as a pass-catcher. Jimmy Garoppolo sailed a screen over his head last year and there have been issues trying to hit him on similar throws in the flat.

That said, Hasty is a dynamic runner who consistently fights and succeeds at getting an extra yard on every play. Gallman isn’t the same sort of runner Hasty is, but after the early days of handoff issues with Lance, he’s had an impressive camp; he also made a special teams play on a return on Sunday, which means the special teams component of this decision might be a watch. Given the way Trey Sermon takes hits, the 49ers may want another bigger back, especially for key blitz pickups. Gallman’s pass blocking, and specifically his blitz pickups, have been rightfully praised by Kyle Shanahan.

At the end of the day, Hasty is the more talented player, but his size limits him in the pass game on certain throws and as a pass protector. If the 49ers feel more confident that he’ll make it through waivers and back to the practice squad than they do about releasing and retaining Gallman, they’ll probably go that route. It’s a real 50-50 though, and my vote would go to Hasty given the waiver considerations.

Tight end:

In (4): George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner, MyCole Pruitt

Out (1): Jordan Matthews

Changes from previous projection: None

Initially this projection had Pruitt cut, but he’s due a sizable, $500,000 guarantee, so if the 49ers cut and re-signed him, his cap hit on the season would effectively go from the minimum $990,000 he’s currently due, to about $1.5 million. That’s not totally cost prohibitive, and by the end of the season, the 49ers would earn a cap credit, depending on how much he’s played, but right now, it’s more cost effective and straightforward to keep him around.

And that’s not just a financial decision; Pruitt is a very solid run blocker. He’s the best blocker the 49ers have at tight end besides Kittle. When you watch the second half of the final preseason game — which may not really be worth it — Pruitt shows up constantly in the run game. He had the last key block for Hasty on his 35-yard touchdown run. Ross Dwelley is not a reliable blocker, and while Charlie Woerner has improved, especially out in space, Pruitt is by far the better in-line blocker than both of those two.

Since Levine Toilolo left for the Giants, that’s been a missing component of this offense, and this offense, as evidenced Sunday, is going to run the ball… a lot.

Wide receiver:

In (6): Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Mohamed Sanu, Trent Sherfield, Jauan Jennings, Jalen Hurd

Out (3): River Cracraft, Travis Benjamin, Nsimba Webster

Waived/Injured Reserve (2): Austin Watkins Jr., Richie James Jr.

Changes from previous projection: None

Again, swing on talent. Both Jauan Jennings and Jalen Hurd have the talent to make this roster. Both Hurd (two drops, miscommunication with Elijah Mitchell which led to a fumble, was mis-aligned on one snap) and Jennings (dropped a touchdown) had maddening plays on Sunday, but they also impressed at times, with Hurd catching four passes for 25 yards, and Jennings catching a difficult, chain-moving pass thrown on a rope, slightly behind him.

Travis Benjamin just sustained a concussion and is a veteran who can easily be cut and re-signed, so the only real decision here should be whether to keep Nsimba Webster over one of Jennings or Hurd. That’s the same Webster who dropped a pass on Sunday, and who looks lost at sea as a receiver; Shanahan has said you have to be able to play the receiver position, too.

Worst case situation here, you put one of Jennings and Hurd on injured reserve and bring back Benjamin or Webster to be your punt return specialist. The 49ers also repped Mohamed Sanu there in camp, though, and it’s not the worst thing in the world to have a guy who can just sit back there and safely catch punts for the time being. Brandon Aiyuk is obviously the best return option you have, but it’s unclear if the 49ers want to risk him there, at least with regularity.

Swing on talent, not subpar players who are decent returners.

Offensive line:

In (8): Trent Williams, Laken Tomlinson, Alex Mack, Daniel Brunskill, Mike McGlinchey, Aaron Banks, Jaylon Moore, Colton McKivitz

Out (7): Tom Compton, Shon Coleman, Dakoda Shepley, Jake Brendel, Senio Kelemente, Alfredo Gutierrez, Corbin Kaufusi

Changes from previous projection: None

No changes here, though Shon Coleman could argue he’s worth keeping on the roster, and Jake Brendel improved at the end of camp after a harrowing start. Both players, though, aren’t expected to have huge markets, and could easily be veteran practice squad additions, while the two rookies in Aaron Banks, Jaylon Moore and sophomore in Colton McKivitz would be subject to waivers.

Both Moore and McKivitz made strides in recent weeks, and Banks certainly isn’t getting cut despite not playing because of a shoulder issue, so this decision shouldn’t be a hair-puller.

Defensive line:

In (10): Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Jones, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford, Samson Ebukam, Maurice Hurst, Zach Kerr, Kentavius Street, Arden Key

Out (4): Kevin Givens, Darrion Daniels, Eddie Yarbrough, Alex Barrett

Suspended (1): Jordan Willis

Changes from previous projection: Kept Zach Kerr, cut Kevin Givens

Initially the plan here was to cut MyCole Pruitt, use the spot to keep all 11 guys here and then place Maurice Hurst on injured reserve. The plan before that was to cut, then re-sign Zach Kerr, if he was amenable. But Kerr absolutely deserves to be on the roster, and has $200,000 in guaranteed salary, plus a couple other bonuses he’ll want to keep.

Givens, though he’s come on strong, is at a position the 49ers could not be more stacked at. With how many viable interior defensive linemen come available on cutdown day, it’s probably worth the risk to try and get Givens — who has no guaranteed money — to practice squad, even though he’s definitely worthy of making the roster. The likelihood that Darrion Daniels is likely to make it to practice squad, and has had as stellar a camp as Givens at effectively the same position, is another reason to feel like this decision is the way to go.

The other alternative would be to cut Arden Key, but he’s a still-young, athletic, former third-round pick who plays defensive end. The premium on edge rushers is another world compared to how interior defensive linemen are valued, and with Nick Bosa and Dee Ford both returning from serious injuries, plus Arik Armstead often slotting inside, keeping Key is probably more important than making sure you get your sixth-best defensive tackle on the roster.


In (6): Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair, Jonas Griffith, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Marcell Harris

Out (2): Elijah Sullivan, Justin Hilliard

Injured Reserve (1): Mychal Kendricks

Changes from previous projection: Kept Marcell Harris

Harris has played too well at linebacker to get cut, and he’s a lunatic on special teams, too. Stack the linebacker and special teams rooms and make the cut from the defensive line, where there’s an embarrassment of riches.


In (5): K’Waun Williams, Jason Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley, Ambry Thomas, Deommodore Lenoir

Out (3): Dontae Johnson, Davontae Harris, Alexander Myres

Changes from previous projection: Cut Dontae Johnson

Cut Dontae Johnson because you can bring him back right away if need be. This lets you keep Harris.


In (4): Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Talanoa Hufanga, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Out (2): Tavon Wilson, Jared Mayden

PUP/IR (2): Tarvarius Moore, Tony Jefferson

Changes from previous projection: Kept Jaquiski Tartt (activated off PUP), cut Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

This is a tough one, because Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has two preseason interceptions and at least another two in camp; he just keeps finding the ball, while Tavon Wilson had a really impressive start to camp and seems to have a sound understanding of the scheme. It’s a real coin flip here, but Jaquiski Tartt’s resurgence and the way Hufanga has played might encourage you to swing on the guy who continues to find the ball in his hands.

Special teams (3): Taybor Pepper, Mitch Wishnowsky, Robbie Gould

How about Wishnowsky on Sunday? Three punts inside the 20, two absolute bombs, including one for 75 yards, and an average of 61.3 yards per punt? You have to love that.