Two months ago we ran a little exercise of projecting the 53-man roster. Since that time, enough has changed to allow us the chance to revise our projections. If you've had a chance to check out Mike Sandos NFC West blog, he went through each team and gave roster analysis at all of the units (since updated with some of the 49ers injury and roster moves). Feel free to throw out any disagreements you have with some of my projections. I've bolded and underlined additions and will mention subtractions down below.
QB (3): Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, J.T. O'Sullivan
RB (3): Frank Gore, DeShaun Foster, Michael Robinson
FB (2): Moran Norris, Zak Keasey
WR (5): Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle, Jason Hill, Josh Morgan
TE (3): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Billy Bajema
LT (2): Joe Staley, Barry Sims
LG (2): Adam Snyder, Tony Wragge
C (2): Eric Heitmann, Cody Wallace
RG (2): David Baas, Chilo Rachal
RT (1): Jonas Jennings
DE (4): Isaac Sopoaga, Justin Smith, Kentwan Balmer, Ray McDonald
DT (2): Aubrayo Franklin, Ronald Fields
OLB (3): Manny Lawson, Tully Banta-Cain, Parys Haralson
ILB (5): Patrick Willis, Jeff Ulbrich, Dontarrious Thomas, Takeo Spikes, Larry Grant
CB (6): Nate Clements, Walt Harris, Shawntae Spencer, Tarell Brown, Donald Strickland, Reggie Smith
FS (2): Mark Roman, Dashon Goldson
SS (2): Michael Lewis, Keith Lewis
K: Joe Nedney
P: Andy Lee
LS: Brian Jennings
KR/PR: Allen Rossum
I made three changes, and only one of them is my own judgment call. Damane Duckett was placed on injured reserve and Sims is looking like a sure bet to make the team. Spikes is clearly in to replace Brandon Moore, so no surprises there.
The only "big change" I made was to plug in Zak Keasey and take off Ashley Lelie. It sounds like Lelie might miss another week, which puts him that much further behind. Couple that with the continued emergence of Josh Morgan and Lelie has to be considered on thin ice. Keasey has received a lot of playing time with the first team offense and got into quite a bit of action on Friday. The other option is keeping Keasey and dumping Moran Norris. I'm curious what people think about the fullback situation, even if it isn't the most glamorous of positions.
As roster spots become more secure, the questions becomes who remains on the bubble? Jay Moore made some plays (including a sack) last Friday and definitely helped himself. At the same time, Mike Nolan specifically said that while he'd done some positive things, he wasn't going to get bumped up because he still had areas to improve. While Tully Banta-Cain looked solid, I could certainly see him battling Moore and Roderick Green for a roster spot. However, I think TBC is the likely winner in that battle. I'm curious if Moore would eventually find himself on the practice squad.
I think Ashley Lelie is not necessarily on the bubble, so much as in some kind of purgatory. If he doesn't get healthy I don't see how he doesn't get cut. Josh Morgan certainly has room to improve, but if he keeps it up at this pace he's certainly not going to lose his spot to Lelie. A final addition to the bubble would be Louis Holmes. It sounds like he's been really impressing folks, although it's an uphill battle for him to make the 53-man roster.
Alright, anybody I'm overlooking or over-rating? I'm pretty sure most of us are praying for a whole lot of answers this Saturday against Green Bay. While there are bubble players, the questions are more related to the depth chart of the existing roster. A guy like Moore or Holmes will definitely need to step up their game Saturday night.