49ers vs. Chiefs preseason 2013: Bubble watch heading into Week 2

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

We take a look at the 49ers bubble watch heading into Friday's preseason Week 2 contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. Who is a lock, strong bubble, weak bubble or longshot?

The 49ers kick off their second preseason game of the season tonight, and it means we get a chance to further sort through the roster bubble. The 49ers view of the bubble is probably fairly different from our own, but we can still enjoy the discussion.

Speaking of roster cuts and the 49ers, Andrew Brandt had an interesting article at The MMQB discussing what it was like to go through roster cuts when he was a Vice President for the Green Bay Packers (thanks to Karl Cuba for originally posting this). The most interesting quotation was about the idea of open competition for roster spots:

If you think training camps are about having an open competition, guess again. Teams have proprietary depth charts going into camp, different from the ones shared with the media. There are usually between four and six spots that are open to competition, depending largely on numbers and personnel groupings rather than the performance of players on the bubble.

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh tried to say the team did not have depth charts, but we know they have some way to assess where different players are on the roster. It would be fascinating to see how the team views players, both within their position, and in comparison to the rest of the roster for purposes of cutting down to 53 players.

I made a couple changes to this week's bubble watch. First, I moved Kassim Osgood, Ricardo Lockette and Chad Hall into the strong bubble. That leaves us with four locks and five strong bubble players at wide receiver. I do not think nine wide receivers will make the roster, but rather, I think you can make strong arguments for all five of the bubble players. Lavelle Hawkins and Chuck Jacobs strike me as the only receivers for which you cannot make such an argument at this point.

I also moved tight end MarQueis Gray from longshot to weak bubble. I still think he has tough odds of making the roster, but it sounds like he has looked solid in camp. He could at the very least be working his way toward a practice squad spot. He and Garrett Celek will get more snaps this week with Vance McDonald's absence, so both have a chance to shine.

Finally, I moved Raymond Ventrone down to weak bubble. He was working as Andy Lee's personal protector on the punt coverage unit, but his hamstring injury has held him out of the last week of practice. Dropping him down might be a bit reactionary, but for now until he gets healthy, he remains on the fence in my mind.

Locks

QB (1): Colin Kaepernick
RB (4): Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Bruce Miller
WR (4): Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton
TE (2): Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald
OT (2): Joe Staley, Anthony Davis
OG (2): Alex Boone, Mike Iupati
C (2): Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore

DT (2): Justin Smith, Ray McDonald
NT (2): Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey
OLB (3): Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier
ILB (2): Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman
CB (3): Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers, Tramaine Brock
FS (2): Eric Reid, C.J. Spillman
SS (1): Donte Whitner

P (1): Andy Lee
K (1): Phil Dawson

Strong Bubble

QB: Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien
RB: Anthony Dixon
WR: Marlon Moore, Austin Collie, Kassim Osgood, Ricardo Lockette, Chad Hall
TE: Garrett Celek
OG: Adam Snyder, Joe Looney

DT: Demarcus Dobbs, Will Tukuafau
OLB: Parys Haralson, Dan Skuta
ILB: Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody
CB: Nnamdi Asomugha, Perrish Cox
FS: Trenton Robinson
SS: Craig Dahl

LOS: Brian Jennings

Weak Bubble

QB: B.J. Daniels
RB: Jewel Hampton, D.J. Harper
WR: Lavelle Hawkins
TE: MarQueis Gray
OT: Kenny Wiggins, Carter Bykowski

DT: Tony Jerod-Eddie
OLB: Cam Johnson
CB: Marcus Cooper, Darryl Morris
FS: Michael Thomas, Raymond Ventrone
SS: Darcel McBath

LS: Kevin McDermott

Longshots

RB: Jason Schepler
WR: Chuck Jacobs
OT: Patrick Omameh
OG: Al Netter, Wayne Tribue

DT: Lawrence Okoye
NT: Lamar Divens, Mike Purcell
ILB: Travis Johnson, Nate Stupar

K: Colton Schmidt

Injuries

PUP: Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham
NFI: Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Marcus Lattimore, Luke Marquardt, Eric Wright
Likely IR: Chris Culliver

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