The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a busy bye week of roster movement, and are entering a week that will feature at least a couple transactions.
On Wednesday, the 49ers waived wide receiver Marlon Moore. On Friday, the team activated linebacker Aldon Smith from the NFI list. It's not quite as simple as a normal activation. According to GM Trent Baalke, the team had to activate Smith, but they also have a one-week roster exemption for him. That means he is on the 53-man roster, but really the team is allowed to have a 54th man until Wednesday.
Of course, the team continues to cut down in anticipation of returns. They waived linebacker Nate Stupar over the weekend, with Nick Moody likely on his way back to active status. That leaves the team with 52 players, and four players to activate. The team has until Tuesday to activate WR Mario Manningham CB Eric Wright. They are expected to activate Nick Moody soon, and Michael Crabtree is due back later this month or early next month.
Given the expected activations of Manningham, Wright and Moody, I thought I'd take the 49ers PR-issued depth chart and make some adjustments. Below, you'll find my interpretation of the depth chart, including projected cuts this week, and where everybody actually stands.
QB: Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy
LT: Joe Staley
LG: Mike Iupati, Joe Looney
C: Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore
RG: Alex Boone, Adam Snyder
RT: Anthony Davis
RB: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon, LaMichael James
FB: Bruce Miller, Anthony Dixon
TE: Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek
WR: Anquan Boldin, Jon Baldwin
WR: Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton, Kassim Osgood
RDT: Justin Smith, Demarcus Dobbs
NT: Glenn Dorsey, Quinton Dial
LDT: Ray McDonald, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Tank Carradine
ILB: Patrick Willis, Michael Wilhoite
ILB: NaVorro Bowman, Nick Moody
OLB: Aldon Smith, Dan Skuta, Corey Lemonier
OLB: Ahmad Brooks
LCB: Carlos Rogers, Tramaine Brock, Darryl Morris
RCB: Tarell Brown, Eric Wright, Perrish Cox
SS: Donte Whitner, Craig Dahl, Raymond Ventrone
FS: Eric Reid, C.J. Spillman
Kicker: Phil Dawson
Punter: Andy Lee
LS: Kevin McDermott
PR: Kyle Williams, Perrish Cox, LaMichael James
KR: Kyle Williams, LaMichael James, Perrish Cox
Here are the changes I made
Punt/Kick Returner: Moved LaMichael James to the back of the pack for both return positions. He very well could move up the depth chart ahead of Kyle Williams and Perrish Cox, but not for now.
Outside Linebacker: Activated Aldon Smith, and moved him right to the head of the line. We're hearing the 49ers are going to make him earn his way back, but I think we see him taking starting snaps this Sunday. I also moved Corey Lemonier ahead of Dan Skuta at this point. When Aldon Smith does move back into the starting lineup, it will be interesting to see how the 49ers work Lemonier and Skuta.
Inside Linebacker: Activated Nick Moody off the short term injured reserve. He has been practicing since October 23, and he is eligible to be activated this week. Given the team's decision to release Stupar, who had been a pretty core special teams player, I don't see how Moody isn't activated.
Cornerback: Activated Eric Wright, release Nnamdi Asomugha. We've discussed this ad nauseam at this point. Nnamdi is the most logical release candidate when Wright returns.
Wide Receiver: Activated Mario Manningham.
Quarterback: Released McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The 49ers do not seem overly impressed by Colt McCoy, but I'm just not sure there are enough other release options at this point. Demarcus Dobbs or Tony Jerod-Eddie could very well get released, but I think one of them is released when Crabtree is activated.
As I see it now, the 49ers four reserve defensive linemen are Dobbs, TJE, Dial and Tank. Dial has gotten some playing time, while Tank will be making his professional debut at some point. My guess is the team will keep all four linemen to give them some time to show things, and then one will get released when Michael Crabtree is activated.
Consider that a round-about reason for why I think McBLT is unlikely to stick around. The 49ers could potentially try and slip him to their practice squad.