Let the iron sharpen the iron.
QB- Kap, Gabbert
RB- Gore, Hyde, Hunter, Lattimore
WR- Boldin, Crabs, Stevie, Ellington, Patton
TE- VD, Vance, Carrier
OL- Boone, Davis, M.Martin, Kilgore, Looney, J.Martin, Staley, Iupati
DL- Cowboy, RayMac, Dorsey, Ian, Tank, TJE, Dial
ILB- Willis, Wilhoite, Borland, Moody
OLB- Aldon, Ahmad, Lynch, Skuta, Lemonier
DB- Cully, Brock, Johnson, Cox, Cook, Morris
S- Reid, Dahl, Ward, Bethea
ST- Lee, Dawson, McDermott, CJ Spillman
Strong bubble (Most likely on the team but there is a chance they get cut): Gabbert, Patton, J. Martin, Looney, TJE, Dial, Cully
Weak bubble (I have them on the team but that could change instantly): Spillman, Carrier, Lynch, Dahl, Cox, Cook, Morris, Moody
Outside Looking In (Not on the team but that could easily change): Celek, Osgood,
Wright, Lloyd, Ventrone, Costanzo, LMJ, Josh Johnson, Dobbs, Snyder, Acker
In case of emergency (They don't make the team but they will probably be available if needed): Jon Baldwin, Tuk, (Josh Johnson I think fits here as well)
NFI- Reaser, Thomas, Millard
Practice Squad: QB Faulkner, WR Jacobs, TE Greene, OT Bykowski, OL Ryan Seymour, DL Okoye, ILB Skov, CB Acker
The most likely to get picked up off of waivers and not make the PS are: Cleveland, Seymour, Okoye, Skov, Acker
I see it as Josh Johnson and Gabbert are competing for 2nd string. McBLT and Faulkner are competing for PS. I think Gabbert is going to win (partially because of the big hit if he is cut plus I think that JJ may be available off the street later in the year.) I don't see any way the team can afford to keep 3 QB's on the 53 man roster, there is too much talent. Plus, they don't normally do that anyway.
I have made blasphemous comments about Gore potentially being cut because of his giant cap savings. I don't actually think that is going to happen. As much as I love the idea of the cap savings and the extra spot on the team for the young players I don't think there is a real chance that Gore is gone for any reason other than injury. There is obviously a plethora of talent at this position. So much so that I don't know how they are going to be able to utilize everybody.
I don't see LMJ being on the team unless one of a few things happens. One of the other 4 RB's get hurt. Nobody else on the team shows any ability at all when it comes to catching/returning punts. Or LMJ somehow steps up his game and either looks amazing as a return man or RB so much so that they can't afford to have somebody doing it in his place. I don't see that last one happening. I am hoping they are able to trade him for something. Anything really.
I don't believe LMJ is going to be on the team but if the team doesn't think that Gore and Hunter are going to be back next year then maybe they try to find a way to keep LMJ. He would have to beat out a lot of people for the 53rd spot on the team which I will discuss more below. He would have to have more value as a returner than any of the ST aces offer as coverage guys. Then he would also have to beat out Lloyd and show that he has more value as a returner/6th RB than Lloyd does as the 6th WR. It would be difficult to earn that spot.
Miller is obvious. Tuk will be cut but he will be available off of the street later in the year if the 49ers need him.
Millard has a future in this position/TE/H-Back but I think that this year he will be on the NFI due to roster constraints and full injury recovery. I am excited about his future.
I think it is pretty clear who makes the team here. There is a tiny chance that Stevie gets cut but I think that chance is so small that I didn't even list him on the strong bubble. He is going to make the team in my opinion. There is always a chance that his heart isn't in football anymore and that is why his numbers were down last year and he just can't get back into this year. I don't think that is the case and he will be on the team.
There is a small chance that Patton doesn't make the team. I am fairly certain that he will make the team but there is always a chance. I should just have him listed as a lock but there is always a chance an unproven guy regresses. I think he is going to take a step forward though.
The two studs; Crabs and Q are on the team and the rookie Ellington is on the team, they aren't going to cut a 4th round rookie before his first season unless he does something really awful which I don't see happening. I also anticipate Ellington being the return man this year as I don't see LMJ on the team.
So that leaves Llyod. Can he get on this team? In order for that to happen a few other things have to happen. Two people on this roster who can play other positions have to step up and knock Spillman/Osgood off of the team as gunners. Morris can be one of them. He was a good gunner last year and will be a CB and gunner this year. And maybe Ward. He will be a CB, backup safety, and the other gunner. That makes Spillman/Osgood expendable. Somebody then has to beat out LMJ as the returner. Lloyd then has to prove that the added value he brings as a 6th WR is greater than the added value that LMJ brings as a returner and that Osgood/Spillman/Ventrone/Costanzo bring as a ST ace. That is a pretty steep hill to climb for Lloyd. Either that or he has to be so good that he beats Stevie and Patton straight up as a WR by so much that their added future value is outweighed by his immediate value for one season. (Is Lloyd for 1 season worth more than SJ or Patton for 3 seasons.) That isn't going to happen in my opinion. And that is why I don't see him making the team unless somebody is injured.
I picked Carrier to beat out Celek. This is more of a hope than anything I think will necessarily happen. I really like Carrier's skill set. I think he could be Delanie Walker 2.0. Just like DW he was a WR that is being converted to H-back. I see him having the ability to be the backup fullback and the third TE. That removes Tuk from the team. With his speed and experience as a WR he could be a match up problem for teams just like DW was. He did not look great (that is an understatement) last year when played so I am hoping he has had time to improve.
There is also a chance that Carrier ends up on the PS again this year. He has some weird eligibility left. Does that weigh into the 49ers decision to put Celek on 53 and keep Carrier on the PS? I don't know. I just hope that Carrier really steps up and wins the 3rd TE spot outright and starts building towards a DW type career.
I am really hoping that Kevin Greene steps up as well. I would love it if the 49ers became a TE factory the way that Stanford is. They just keep bringing guys in and building them up until they have a stream of swiss army knives. Blocking, pass catching, athletic studs that keep the defense on its heels.
Asante Cleveland was primarily a blocking TE from what I have seen. It did sound like he was pretty heavily sought after in the UDFA market, but that doesn't say that much. Most teams had 7 chances to draft him and passed so he isn't that sought after. I think his only chance of making this team, short of a crazy miracle, is on the PS. However, I don't think he would ever clear waivers and make it to the PS. So I suspect he is on the roster of another team this year.
5 starters - Staley, Iupati, Kilgore, Boone, Davis.
Based on the history of Boone's agents I see him holding out into the season. I hope it doesn't happen. I really do, and I want to believe that he will be back in time but I fear the worst. In that case I think that Snyder sticks around until Boone comes back.
M. Martin is the backup center and most likely the center of the future. But he is inactive on game days during his rookie year. Looney is the backup guard and center because of M. Martin being inactive. J. Martin is the swing tackle.
Snyder misses out on making the team if Boone is back. I hope they are able to trade him for something but I am not going to hold my breath for that. He will be on another roster next year unless somebody is injured or Boone holds out going into the season.
There is a pretty good chance that Seymour doesn't make it to the PS because another team snatches him up. In that case it comes down to a battle between Dillon Farrell and Fou Fonoti and I have no idea how to evaluate that match up. I suppose Al Netter is in there as well but since he keeps getting cut I assume he would lose out to one of these two.
Thanks to the amazing Jim Tomsula I have 100% confidence in our DL. I know Justin is getting older and may not be the defensive player of the year level player that he once was but he is still an outstanding player. Ray Mac is solid. Dorsey looks like the lead candidate to start at NT at the beginning of the year.
Ian Williams' injury creates a bit of a concern. I assume that he will be ok to start the year but there is a chance that he isn't. If he isn't healthy at the start of the year then I see Dobbs making the team at least until his return.
I was impressed with TJE in his limited role last year and I think that he has more physical ability and upside than Dobbs has so that is why I pick him. TJE played a little NT last year but I think his chance to really shine is at DE. But he does have some flexibility.
There is a chance that Dobbs beats out Dial. Dial is a giant man with crazy potential if he can tap into that size. If Dial has the work ethic with Jimmy T working with him the sky is the limit. For that reason I see him making it over Dobbs.
I see Dobbs as insurance. When they tendered him they didn't know how Ian's ankle was going to turn out (still don't really) and there is always the chance that somebody else gets hurt before the start of the season. Dobbs is also one of those guys that has continued to improve every year. There is a chance he just ups his game and beats out Dial or TJE. I fill like his potential is lower than both of those two even if their play is relatively similar right now. Dobss does play on ST so that could come into play. But as it stands right now I see him as the odd man out.
If everything goes as planned maybe they can trade Dobbs for something at the end of TC. But with his salary what it is I don't know if he is tradeable.
This is my favorite positional battle, I think. There are so many varied opinions. Willis is the rock, obviously. Bowman will be back at some point. Who knows how long and at what level he will be back at initially. But from there it is a craps shoot.
Some people love/hate Borland. Some feel the same about Moody. Stanford fans think that Skov is going to end up starting in Bows place this year. And me, I am putting my money on Wilhoite.
First, a disclaimer, I know that pro day and combine numbers don't mean everything. Sometimes they mean nothing. I know that some of the guys were hurt or nicked up or were recovering from something at the time. But, here are their pro day/combine numbers. The only reason I post these is to show Wilhoite. He is so close to Pat and Bow. He is similar/competitive with them in every category.
Ht/Wt 40-yd 10-yd 20-yd 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
PW: 6 1¼ 242 4.51s 1.53s 2.62s 4.46s 7.23s 39in 9ft 11in 22reps
NB: 6 0 242 4.70s 1.60s 2.64s 4.59s 6.91s 29.5in 9ft 07in 26 reps
MW: 6 1 240 4.70s 1.64s 2.7s 4.14s 6.73s 36.5in 10ft09in 22 reps
CB: 5 11 248 4.78s 1.65s 2.7s 4.27s 7.18s 31in 9ft5in 27 reps
NM: 6 1 236 4.68s 1.62s 2.65s 33in 9ft10in 17 reps
SS: 6 2 245 5.09s 1.72s 2.83s 4.38s 7.29s 31in 9ft5in 28 reps
I think that Wilhoite is going to get the starting job with Willis to begin with. He is physically similar to Pat and Bow. He has been training with them for 3 years now. He has been learning the system for 3 years. Rookies rarely start for this coaching staff. He has been getting better every year and taking on more and more responsibility. From undrafted and out of football for a year, to tryout and PS. To ST contributor. To top backup. To starting this year (only due to injury, but still). Wilhoite is improving and I hope to see him get even better this year.
Early word is that Borland is looking like the real deal. He is going to add great depth. Next year when Wilhoite leaves he will be the top reserve. He is going to be a great contributor on ST. I don't think he is going to show enough to the coaching staff to overtake Wilhoite this year, they are pretty reluctant to throw young guys in. But he will be a solid member of the team for a few years and maybe even replace one of the twins as they age.
Moody was supposed to be a ST standout coming out of college. I expect him to show that this year. He could possibly make the team just for his ST ability. He also is the prototype for the LB of the future. He is a converted safety. He is faster than he is strong. He is a coverage guy not a run stopping guy. He could have a good future in the league if he puts it all together. I don't expect to see that this year but I would expect to see him on the team and playing ST.
Skov would have been the perfect MLB/ILB in the 90's and before that. He is big and strong and smart. He was just born in the wrong generation I think. He is not fast. Speed for coverage is so important in today's NFL for LB's. That is not to say that there wont be a spot for him in the NFL. He may have a great career. I just don't see how he beats out the other guys to get a spot on the 53 man roster. I think there would be a PS spot available to him but another team will snag him off waivers. I don't think he will be on the 49ers this season. I could be wrong and he could shine and beat out Moody, Borland, or Wilhoite but I don't see it.
If Aldon is suspended to start the season that will open up another roster spot. I am not sure it would be filled with an extra OLB. I think they will be ok with Brooks, Skuta, and Lemonier. Lynch will be on the team I think but he will probably be inactive.
Lynch is an interesting one. He has all the physical tools in the world. Will he pull it together? In the long run my guess is no. It is easy to mess up and hard to stay focused and work if that isn't your natural nature. I don't know that much about him so I could be wrong, and hopefully I am, but I don't see him working long term. However, I think he makes the team this year.
Skuta is a solid stand in and he is good on ST's. He will be on the team. Hopefully he doesn't see much playing time for a couple of reasons. One, Aldon's suspension is short. Two, and most importantly, Lemonier steps up and plays great. But Skuta is a good reserve to have on the team.
DB - Brock is clearly the starter on 1 side. I think that Cully, Cook and
Wright are battling for the other side. The winner gets the starting job. Second place gets the backup spot on the outside. The loser gets cut. If Ward is good enough at learning new positions that the coaches feel comfortable with him on the team as the 4th safety then that frees up an extra DB position. Ward will still be the starting nickel back but his spot on the roster will be as a safety.
Cox, Morris, and Acker will compete but lose to Ward for the nickel spot. They will then compete for the dime spot. The winner is the dime back. 2nd place is the backup slot corner. Third place is cut if it is Cox or maybe Morris. If Morris loses the battle to become a DB he could still make it on the team by potentially beating out Spillman/Osgood/Ventrone/Costanzo for the ST only position. If it is Acker he will be sent to PS. I am pretty sure he will NOT make it to the PS without another team stealing him but that is what I see happening.
Johnson will be on the team and most likely inactive all year. It would be amazing if he was good enough to beat out Cook or Cully as the starter or even the backup on the outside. That would bode very well for the future. I don't see it happening this year but it would be great if he was that good this early.
Reid and Bethea are obviously on the team. And I know a lot of people don't like to hear this, but at least at the beginning of the year, Dahl is the best backup safety on the team. Hopefully Ward changes that by the end of the year. But Dahl is a good special teams contributor and a better backup safety then anybody else on the team at the beginning of the year. He also has a contract that makes cutting him not very beneficial.
I have Ward listed as the 4th safety. If he isn't good enough as a safety to take a spot there and he has to take the spot of a CB then that probably means that somebody good is getting cut at CB. I hope that Ward is good enough at S to make either Dahl or CJ expendable.
Originally I had Osgood as the ST ace. Then I changed it to CJ. I think there should only be 4 safety's on the team and that is why I have CJ listed as the ST ace. However, the truth is that he does play some safety. If he beats out OsgoodVentrone/Costanzo then that takes some pressure off of Ward. CJ would then be the 4th safety that would be used in an emergency instead of Ward. And again, hopefully Ward changes that by the end of the year and is the backup safety by then.
However you look at it I see CJ's spot on the team as very precarious. Depending on how things shake out he could lose his spot to Ward, Dahl, or any of the ST aces. On the other hand, he offers more value at his position than any of the other ST aces and takes pressure off of Ward.
ST Ace / 53 Spot-
This position is in flux. I see this as the least secure spot on the team because there are so many people fighting for this one spot. Not just guys who are ST aces but other positions as well. I see CJ Spillman beating out Osgood for the ST specialist role. Osgood's tweets made me worry about his desire to be on the team (but take that for what it is worth, maybe nothing). CJ also brings more to the team on defense than Osgood does on offense. He is a better safefy (he plays on the goal line team) than Osgood is a WR.
If Ward/Patton/Ellington/Johnson/somebody else turns out to be a suitable gunner then it is possible that Morris and somebody else are the gunners and Osgood and Spillman are both off of the team. It has been reported that Patton and Elington are practicing as gunners. That does not bode well for any of the ST aces. But it is very hard to tell at this point.
I would not be shocked if Costanzo or Ventrone won this spot either. If Costanzo or Ventrone is kept on the team, since neither of them are gunners, somebody else would need to step up in place of Spillman/Osgood to team with Morris as gunners .
All of the ST aces (Spillman/Osgood/Ventrone/Costanzo) could potentially miss making the team to make room for an extra player at many different positions: LMJ, Lloyd, Celek/Carrier, Okoye, Acker, or even somebody else. The 53rd spot on this team is going to be very hard to earn.