Approximately six weeks ago I rolled out my initial projection of the 49ers 53-man roster. While there is still plenty of preseason football to be played, I thought a couple weeks of training camp and a preseason game is enough time to consider revisions to our 53-man roster projection.
I have to admit that this has gotten really difficult to figure out given some of the injuries and the Michael Crabtree holdout. Brandon Jones is out until early October with his shoulder injury and Zak Keasey is out for 8-10 weeks with his forearm injury. Neither player can go on the PUP list since they passed physicals at the start of training camp. I think that means Keasey is likely to be cut at some point soon and potentially placed on injured reserve if he clears waivers (if I'm getting the rules correct).
Then there's Crabtree. Given his holdout he's still not a member of the 49ers. That basically means we'll come up with a list of 54 players because once Crabtree is signed, he'd have to go on the 53-man roster and somebody would need to be cut. At this point Crabtree is not included in this projection. After the jump we discuss that impact among other things.
Also, I've underlined new additions to the 53-man roster.
QB (3): Shaun Hill, Alex Smith, Nate Davis
RB (4): Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, Michael Robinson, Kory Sheets
FB (1): Moran Norris
WR (6): Isaac Bruce, Brandon Jones, Josh Morgan, Jason Hill, Arnaz Battle, Dominique Zeigler
TE (3): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Bear Pascoe
LT (2): Joe Staley, Alex Boone
LG (1): David Baas
C (2): Eric Heitmann, Cody Wallace
RG (2): Chilo Rachal, Tony Wragge
RT (2): Adam Snyder, Marvel Smith
DE (5): Justin Smith, Kentwan Balmer, Demetric Evans, Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean-Francois***
DT (1): Aubrayo Franklin
OLB (4): Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Ahmad Brooks, Marques Harris
ILB (4): Patrick Willis, Takeo Spikes, Jeff Ulbrich, Scott McKillop
CB (5): Nate Clements, Dre Bly, Tarell Brown, Shawntae Spencer, Marcus Hudson
FS (2): Dashon Goldson, Mark Roman
SS (2): Michael Lewis, Reggie Smith
K: Joe Nedney
P: Andy Lee
LS: Brian Jennings
KR/PR: Allen Rossum
Last 5 on: Ahmad Brooks, Kory Sheets, Dominique Zeigler, Ricky Jean-Francois, Alex Boone
First 5 off: Jay Moore,
Barry Sims Curtis Taylor, Micheal Spurlock, Damon Huard, Brit Miller
***Ray McDonald is on the PUP list and would need a spot on the roster at some point in the season. Replacement TBD
After the jump I take a look at some of the changes and some of the notable omissions. After you've read that over, feel free to tear me a new one on some of these selections.
There are a few players that are giving me all sorts of trouble. Let's start at wide receiver. Once Crabtree signs, who do you cut? The quick thought is to get rid of one of the receivers (either Zeigler or Battle). However, if Crabtree signs before the season starts, or even that first week or two, Brandon Jones will not be back yet. Given that Crabtree has a ton of ground to make up, I don't think you want to cut a guy who's been playing since day 1. So who exactly do you get rid of to make room for Crabtree on the 53-man roster?
I'm a bit conflicted here, but I think it's just that initial rush of a good performance from Damon Huard. If Nate Davis doesn't get much playing time, can the team afford to have him sitting at #3 if they elect to waive Damon Huard? Or is this an indication that Huard isn't going anywhere and they might actually keep 4 QBs? Given the injury issues, can this team afford to give a roster space to a 4th quarterback at this point?
The season ending injury to Thomas Clayton helps Kory Sheets, but doesn't guarantee anything. I kept Sheets on the roster, but I actually am thinking that his real "nemisis" for a roster spot is Micheal Spurlock. Spurlock has shown a good bit of potential and has been getting moved around all over the field, including in the wildcat/taser formation. At this point, I think either Spurlock or Sheets makes the roster, but not both.
Close to 2/3 of you think Brit Miller will make the 53-man roster for week 1 of the regular season. I'm not quite comfortable adding him in yet given the presence of Moran Norris and Michael Robinson. At the same time, I've elevated him to first 5 off the roster. Miller will see a whole lot of playing time and if he puts up similar performances in the coming weeks, he might bump somebody off the roster. Who that would be exactly, I'm not so sure.
I succumbed to the pressure and replaced Barry Sims with Alex Boone. Sims did perfectly reasonable in his backup role last week, but consider me on the upside bandwagon of Boone. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised with any outcome in this battle. However, as I said before, it's going to be either Boone or Sims, not both, on the roster.
I thought I'd close with a few miscellaneous thoughts on other roster spots. I added in RJF with McDonald on the PUP list, but I think RJF is still in a tenuous position at this point. He'll need to build on last weekend's performance. I moved Jay Moore off my projection, and went with Marques Harris. Harris has experience in the Manusky defense and that veteran presence would likely give him an edge. And Moore retains practice squad eligibility.