The San Francisco 49ers are approximately 40 days from their first practice of 2015 training camp. Once camp gets going, there will be daily media reports leading up to the preseason opener on August 15. That time will give us a better grasp on the depth chart, and which players have climbed onto the bubble.
As we approach training camp, we'll be assessing the roster in several ways. We'll start with this bubble watch post. We'll go position-by-position, and break down whether players are locks, strong bubble, weak bubble and longshots. The discussion for each article will not follow a specific format, but rather will focus on the more interesting aspects of the particular roster competition. In July, we'll follow this with a look at contract numbers for each position, and we'll close with a look at key questions facing each position.
Locks: Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Blake Bell
Strong Bubble: Derek Carrier, Garrett Celek
Weak Bubble: Busta Anderson, Asante Cleveland
Longshots: Xavier Grimble
The San Francisco 49ers have a whole lot of tight ends. A year after the position was decimated by injuries, the 49ers are creating all sorts of competition in training camp.
I imagine the first critique of this list by some will be Vance McDonald's inclusion as a lock. A rather disappointing rookie season was followed by a second season cut short by multiple injuries. I still think he is certain to get one more year while the team figures out what's next with him. This is not an A.J. Jenkins situation where McDonald is doing literally nothing for the team during the regular season. But if he has another poor year, he might not make it to the final year of his contract.
As a fourth round pick, Blake Bell is not going anywhere this year. That creates a lot of competition between Derek Carrier, Garrett Celek and Busta Anderson. I included Asante Cleveland simply because he has experience with the team. Anderson strikes me as a likely practice squad candidate, but maybe he surprises us. I remain somewhat stuck on the fact that the 49ers extended Carrier through 2017. They could change their tune quickly, but I think he is the favorite for now.
Anderson is the real wild card in this situation. He has dealt with triceps injuries, but he brings speed and athleticism. He's a guy I am really looking forward to watching in training camp. Is there any chance the 49ers keep five tight ends? I could certainly see a trade possibility somewhere in there, but I'm just not sure what exactly.