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Projecting the 49ers 53-man roster #3

It is indeed that time of the week. Eight days ago we rolled out the second 53-man roster projection and plenty has happened since then to mix things up a little bit more. The biggest news affecting our roster projection is probably the return of Ray McDonald from the PUP list. As with before, new additions are underlined. After the jump I go into some of the details of my changes.

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, Barry Sims
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, Ray McDonald
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

Special Teams
K: Joe Nedney
P: Andy Lee
LS: Brian Jennings
KR/PR: Allen Rossum

Last 5 on: Ahmad Brooks, Kory Sheets, Dominique Zeigler, Barry Sims, Nate Davis

First 5 off: Jay Moore, Alex Boone, Curtis Taylor, Ricky Jean-Francois, Micheal Spurlock

Right off the bat, I'm sure the Barry Sims projection will have folks up in arms. The problem with this projection is deciding whether it's more predictions, projections as things currently stand, or a mix of both. I mention this because in his recap of yesterday afternoon's practice, Barrows mentioned that Sims was getting first team snaps over Boone. Marvel Smith only practices once a day, so in the second practice somebody else has to fill in at right tackle (since Snyder is out). I certainly reserve the right to adjust this depending on how practice and this weekend shakes out, but for now Sims seems to have an edge. I definitely would prefer to see Boone on the roster, but I'm just not seeing it right now. I'm sure there will be plenty of comments about this one.

The return of Ray McDonald does not bode well for Ricky Jean-Francois. The bump off the squad for now also bumped FB Brit Miller off the first 5 off. While he has looked solid, I think the five guys listed there are significantly closer to securing a roster spot than Miller. If the team keeps 4 running backs, I can't see more than one fullback (assuming we're not counting Michael Robinson as a fullback). Miller and Boone are two prime practice squad candidates. They're also two guys who might be tough to slip through waivers; Boone more so than Miller.

Other than that I just don't see a lot changing at this point. One guy who has gotten a decent amount of publicity is Diyral Briggs. Takeo Spikes was talking him up on the sideline last weekend during the Raiders game. He continued to impress this past weekend and has probably made a sufficient case for the practice squad. It would be tough for him to crack the 53-man at this point, although certainly not impossible. At this point he's listed behind Parys Haralson and Ahmad Brooks at the Will outside linebacker position. Personally I'd keep Brooks just because of that impressive goal line play when he made the leap and almost sacked Russell. I just don't see the team taking Briggs over Brooks at this point. Harris is backing up Lawson on the other side with Jay Moore behind them so again, I don't see him leaping them, at least for now.

At this point, as the starters are being figured out, the last few roster spots remain up for grabs. That list of first 5 off, among many others are all scratching and clawing for some craps scraps off the table. Most would argue Alex Boone has the best chance of making the roster. I would tend to agree, but it remains a tough road ahoe. I continue to root for Jay Moore, but Harris's experience in the Manusky defense gives him a big advantage.

At this point, who do you find yourself rooting for the most among the numerous "roster underdogs?"