The San Francisco 49ers have begun Phase 2 of their offseason workout program, and they will welcome their rookies to minicamp a week from Friday. The team is still filling out their rookie class with undrafted free agents, but I figured that should not stop me from putting together my very first 53-man roster projection for 2013. Here is a rundown of the current roster, reflecting the eleven draft picks and eleven reported undrafted free agent signings.
Over the last couple months I have put together some roster projections looking strictly at who I thought were locks, strong bubble, bubble and long shots. There will be some UDFA additions, but given their long-shot status, I'm not concerned about any additional players shaking this projection up all that much.
When I put in the roster of players and removed players that I was quickly comfortable not having on the 53-man roster, I was down to 60 players. Two players I did not include right off the bat were running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Mario Manningham. I believe both end up on the PUP list to start the season. I think Lattimore spends the entire season on the injured list. As for Manningham, I think he starts there, and his future with the 49ers will depend on how A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton and Kyle Williams all perform in his absence.
Here is a an initial rundown. Below that are some thoughts on the practice squad and the roster bubble.
Quarterback (3): Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien
Running Back (5): Anthony Dixon, Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Bruce Miller (FB)
Wide Receiver (5): Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton, Kyle Williams
Tight End (3): Garrett Celek, Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald
Offensive Tackle (2): Anthony Davis, Joe Staley
Offensive Guard (4): Alex Boone, Mike Iupati, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney
Center (1): Jonathan Goodwin
Defensive Line (7): Cornellius Carradine, Demarcus Dobbs, Glenn Dorsey, Quinton Dial, Ray McDonald, Justin Smith, Ian Williams
Outside Linebacker (4): Ahmad Brooks, Darius Fleming, Corey Lemonier, Aldon Smith
Inside Linebacker (4): NaVorro Bowman, Nick Moody, Dan Skuta, Patrick Willis,
Cornerback (6): Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock, Tarell Brown, Perrish Cox, Chris Culliver, Carlos Rogers
Safety (6): Darcel McBath, Eric Reid, Trenton Robinson, C.J. Spillman, Donte Whitner, Craig Dahl
Right off the bat, there are several areas where I'm uncomfortable with my selections. For example, Anthony Dixon vs. Jewel Hampton for a roster spot. Dixon is the bigger back, but I just don't know if the team will bring him back for another year. We had plenty of discussion about Dixon over the weekend. I think either he or Hampton makes the team but not both.
I only have Joe Staley and Anthony Davis at offensive tackle. Could Kenny Wiggins, Carter Bykowski or Luke Marquardt secure a swing tackle spot? I think the 49ers will try and slip either or both of Bykowski and Marquardt to the practice squad, but maybe one of these three earns a roster spot. If so, who gets the axe?
On the defensive side of the ball, I have the team released Tony Jerod-Eddie and Will Tukuafu. Both have experience with the team and the coaching staff, but is it enough to save them a roster spot? The addition of Carradine, Dorsey and Dial would seem to make them losers in the numbers game.
Outside linebacker is another tough one to figure out. I pulled Cam Johnson and Parys Haralson, while leaving Darius Fleming on the roster, and it was partially guess-work. Johnson makes sense as a potential practice squad candidate. The team could decide they want a veteran like Haralson as a back-up, but it could depend on what they think of Fleming. One of many problems with a projection this early is that we don't know how the coaching staff feels about Darius Fleming coming off a season on the injured list.
As for cornerback, last season the 49ers only kept five cornerbacks on the roster. I currently have six listed, and could see Nnamdi or Tramaine Brock not making the cut at the end of August.
As for the practice squad, there are a whole host of candidates. B.J. Daniels is a very easy candidate to point to right off the bat. Jewel Hampton has practice squad eligibility, but we don't know how the rest of the league might view him. a player has to clear waivers at the end of training camp. All it takes is one claim to take him, or anybody, away from the 49ers.
I think one of Carter Bykowski or Luke Marquardt ends up on the practice squad. I think the team will try and get Lawrence Okoye on the practice squad as well. I still don't know if the international rule applies (allowing the League to elect to allow the 49ers to add one player above and beyond the eight-person limit. I'm working on more details on that). I think the team could try and get Michael Thomas onto their practice squad once again, although if he can impress in OTAs and training camp, there are some opportunities on the safety depth chart.
Here is a rundown of the players I do not have in the above 53-man roster projection. Critique as you like.
QB: B.J. Daniels
FB: Alex Debniak
TE: MarQueis Gray, Cameron Morrah
C: Sherman Carter
LOS: Kevin McDermott
CB: Marcus Cooper, Darryl Morris