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Projecting the 49ers 53-man Roster #1

Over the last two months we've been coming up with roster projections for each position on the 49ers roster. To me, it seems easier to break down each position, and then work backwards (or forwards depending on how you look at it) from there filling in the 53-man roster. Each year this projection has actually moved closer and closer to the season (2009 and 2008). I would actually argue that's a good thing because it means we've been busier on the site, and we've had a longer look at each position, each player, each bubble spot. So with that, here's the first projection. After the jump we break things down a bit more.

QB (3): Alex Smith, David Carr, Nate Davis
RB (4): Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, Michael Robinson, Anthony Dixon
FB (1): Moran Norris
WR (5): Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr., Jason Hill, Kyle Williams
TE (3): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Nate Byham
LT (2): Joe Staley, Barry Sims
LG (2): Mike Iupati, David Baas
C (1): Eric Heitmann
RG (2): Chilo Rachal, Adam Snyder
RT (2): Anthony Davis, Alex Boone

DE (5): Justin Smith, Kentwan Balmer, Demetric Evans, Isaac Sopoaga, Ray McDonald
DT (2): Aubrayo Franklin, Ricky Jean-Francois
OLB (4): Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Ahmad Brooks, Travis LaBoy
ILB (4): Patrick Willis, Takeo SpikesScott McKillop, Navorro Bowman
CB (5): Nate ClementsShawntae Spencer, Tarell Brown, Karl Paymah, Will James
FS (2): Dashon Goldson, Curtis Taylor
SS (3): Michael Lewis, Taylor Mays, Reggie Smith

Special Teams
K: Joe Nedney
P: Andy Lee
LS: Brian Jennings

Last 5 on: Curtis Taylor, Alex Boone, Nate Byham, Travis LaBoy, Will James/Karl Paymah

First 5 off: LeRoy Vann, Diyral Briggs, Brit Miller, Cody Wallace, Dominique Zeigler

I'll be honest, this first 53-man roster projection was rather difficult. In looking at the first 5 off, Vann, Briggs, and Miller were all particularly difficult. But in looking back at them, it seems like the odds just are not in their favor. I think all five of those first five off could work there way onto the roster, but such is life on The Bubble.

If you've followed our position-by-position roster projections, you may notice I've made some changes to the guys I had down as locks versus bubble. Most notably was removing Tony Wragge from the offensive line and adding both Barry Sims and Alex Boone. I think this is a lot closer than people give it credit for and I do think Cody Wallace remains in the mix. However, a couple things swayed my decision. There was some passionate commentary from folks and that was influential. Additionally, in thinking it over, with the team giving Baas OTA time at center, and Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati eventually making their way into the starting lineup, David Baas and Adam Snyder add some interior back-up versatility.

LeRoy Vann was one of the last guys I removed from the 53-man roster. He's a supremely talented return-man as evidenced by his record-breaking college career. At the same time, with Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams, I just think Vann gets squeezed out in a numbers crunch. Ginn isn't going anywhere, and Williams seems to be a bit more versatile than Vann. Vann can certainly play cornerback, but it seems like Williams is sufficiently better at wide receiver than Vann is at corner. I just think that barring an absolutely home run training camp returning punts, Vann will need to show more at cornerback.

Speaking of CBs, after the big three, I honestly wasn't sure about the rest of the position. I went with five corners because the team went with five on their 53-man roster last season. Paymah and James aren't exactly big names, but they would bring some decent depth to the position. However, I think they're bubble guys given how far down the depth chart they are.

It's safe to say the Travis LaBoy-Diyral Briggs roster battle will be one of the more interesting, and yet more underrated training camp battles. The majority of folks voted that both LaBoy and Briggs would make the roster, but I just don't see it. There just doesn't seem to be enough playing time out there for both of them. I suppose I could be wrong, but for now I'm sticking with that.

I know a lot of folks are all about Brit Miller, but I see him in a fairly tough battle for a roster spot. One could argue it's a battle between Miller, Moran Norris and Michael Robinson, with a couple roster spots on the line. I remain sold on Michael Robinson's special teams ability, and Moran Norris seems to have built up some cache with the coaching staff. I'm curious to see what kind of playing time Miller gets in preseason game.