After the draft, I had intended on putting together a 53-man roster projection to take us into OTAs. Tre took care of that in early May with his first roster projection. Now that minicamp and OTAs are a wrap, I thought it was time to present my own 53-man roster projection. Plenty will change starting in late July, but this can give us some context moving forward. We discussed some of the minicamp battles yesterday, and I thought I'd follow up with a full-on roster projection.
One thing of note is how much more difficult these projections have become in recent years. In the first two or three years of NN, we'd have plenty of debates over players, but we weren't exactly talking about the best of the best talent. Now, the 49ers have a lot of players locked in to roster spots, leaving fewer and fewer roster spots open for competition.
Head after the jump to check out my projection, with a few comments about some players of note.
QB (3): Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Josh Johnson
RB (5): Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Brandon Jacobs, Rock Cartwright
FB (1): Bruce Miller
WR (6): Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, Ted Ginn Jr.
TE (3): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Nate Byham
OT (3): Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Mike Person
OG (3): Mike Iupati, Alex Boone, Joe Looney
C (3): Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore, Jason Slowey
DE (4): Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Demarcus Dobbs, Will Tukuafu
NT (2): Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean Francois
OLB (4): Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith, Parys Haralson, Cam Johnson
ILB (4): Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Larry Grant, Tavares Gooden
FS (2): Dashon Goldson, Trenton Robinson
SS (2): Donte Whitner, C.J. Spillman
CB (5): Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, Tramaine Brock
I initially plugged in players at each position and saved the counting for after the fact. At that point I had 55 players on the roster. To cut down to 53 players, I removed Ian Williams and Colin Jones. Williams was considered one of the best undrafted free agents available, and made the 49ers roster last season after a strong preseason. He was active two weeks this past season and I believe is eligible for the practice squad. I've read some conflicting information and will confirm the reality of the situation, but I believe if the 49ers can get him through waivers after training camp, they could sign him to the practice squad.
Jones was strictly a special teams player last season and seemed to spend more time learning the wide receiver position than the safety position after numerous receiver injuries. Maybe the 49ers decide his special teams value is incredibly high. I'm not entirely sure at this point, so this is as much a guess as anything. Of course, many of these are guesses given the limited information we have at this point.
The outside linebacker position is a tough one to figure out as well. Parys Haralson has extensive experience, but there are plenty who think the 49ers release him if he is left at the OLB #3 position. After Haralson, the fourth outside linebacker is a tough one to figure out as well. The 49ers drafted Darius Fleming and Cam Johnson. Fleming is finished for the year, while Cam Johnson had to get his knee cleaned up recently. The 49ers signed Eric Bakhtiari and added Kourtnei Brown as an undrafted free agent. Both are getting a chance for more reps due to the Fleming/Johnson injuries, which could be a huge boon for them in August.
One of my questions is the safety position as having four seems a bit slim. But we also know the 49ers safety depth is slim for now. Ideally, Trenton Robinson and/or C.J. Spillman will take advantage of their opportunities right now and take a big step forward. If not, it raises some big question marks at the two safety positions.