Now that we're a week into the preseason, it seemed as good a time as any to take a look at the 49ers roster and provide another 53-man roster projection. It could be easy to have our opinions overly shaded by a strong second half performance this past week, but that is why we'll be doing this once a week leading up to roster cuts on September 2.
The last roster projection I put together was apparently in mid-June after the team's mandatory minicamp. I thought I had done it more recently, but apparently not. That followed an early May projection. Head after the jump to view the latest projection, along with some comments about changes.
QB (3): Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Scott Tolzien
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 (2): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker
OT (3): Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Mike Person
OG (4): Mike Iupati, Alex Boone, Leonard Davis, Joe Looney
C (2): Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore,
DE (4): Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Demarcus Dobbs, Will Tukuafu
NT (3): Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean Francois, Ian Williams
OLB (4): Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith, Parys Haralson, Eric Bakhtiari
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 made four changes with this roster projection. I removed Josh Johnson for Scott Tolzien as the third QB. I dropped TE Nate Byham. I added NT Ian Williams. I added in OLB Eric Bakhtiari for OLB Cam Johnson.
In replacing Johnson with Tolzien, I remain incredibly unsure of who will occupy that third QB spot. According to Coach Harbaugh, the team could go with Johnson as their third QB this Saturday and Tolzien as their fourth. He didn't say that was a certainty, but it's a possibility. Given that Coach Harbaugh has worked with Johnson before and he's only just learning the new offense, maybe he has some additional cred that will get him a roster spot. I'm honestly not sure at this point. Does Johnson have greater upside than he might have in recent years when he struggled to earn a starting spot with the Bucs?
The 49ers added two tight ends yesterday as they signed Jim Sawyer and Gijon Robinson. These came on the heels of the team losing Delanie Walker to a knee injury for an undetermined amount of time. That knee injury could impact this projection as we don't know yet where Walker is in his recovery process. In the meantime, adding two tight ends seems like a lot if the team is considering going with just two plus Demarcus Dobbs. So that projection may have to be altered depending on Walker's status. But given that Byham didn't play on Friday, I'd suggest Konrad Reuland has a leg up in that battle for the third tight end spot if Dobbs doesn't earn it completely.
In removing Byham I had an open spot, so I added Ian Williams back onto the roster. I suppose the team could go with one of their wide receivers, but given that I still see Ted Ginn snagging a spot, I don't see the team going with seven receivers. Of course, if Kyle Williams can show some steadiness as a punt returner and LaMichael James can gain some consistency as a kick returner, maybe they release Ginn? I still would be surprised by it, but we'll see.
Finally, I removed Cam Johnson and added Eric Bakhtiari. I actually think the team could be looking to slip Johnson through waivers and onto the practice squad. If Johnson doesn't play again this weekend, I will be even more inclined to believe that. Kourtnei Brown put together a solid performance on Friday, so he could work his way into this discussion as well. As long as Aldon Smith remains sidelined during the preseason, both will get a lot of opportunities to show what they can do.
How far off do you think I am with this projection?