Matt Barrows put together a 49ers-Broncos film breakdown earlier today, and he had an interesting comment at the end. He provided some insight into the 53-man roster and what the starting kick return unit could mean:
Speaking of special teams some more, here's how the initial kick-return team was composed. That's typically a good indication of who is earmarked for a roster spot: Spillman, Nick Moody, Ray Ventrone, [Chris] Borland, [Craig] Dahl, [D]an Skuta, Vance McDonald, Demarcus Dobbs, Tony Jerod-Eddie, [Bruce] Miller and [Bruce] Ellington.
While some folks have been hoping the 49ers would unload one or both of Ventrone and Dahl, that might not be the case. Dahl has been the primary backup at strong safety, with Jimmie Ward serving as a backup at free safety. Ward primarily plays the nickel back role, but the 49ers have gotten him fairly extensive safety work. It will be interesting to see who comes off the bench at safety, preferably in a blowout, as opposed to because of injury.
Jerod-Eddie and Dobbs are two other guys worth tracking. Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial appear to be coming on strong, but the 49ers could be content to carry all four players on the 53-man roster. TJE and Dobbs are not getting many defensive snaps, but my guess is that comes from the fact that the 49ers basically know what they can do on defense. Both might have some upside, but their respective ceilings are likely lower than that of Tank and Dial. And with the 49ers not getting much if any on-field work from Tank and Dial last year, it makes sense to give them as much work as possible.
In my bubble watch prior to yesterday's game, I had Dobbs and Moody as strong bubble, and the remaining players as locks. In my 53-man roster from a week ago, I had the entire group included. Among fans, the biggest questions surround Ventrone/Dahl and Dobbs/TJE. It is entirely possible the front office is close to locked in on that group.