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49ers bubble watch: Considering Lawrence Okoye, Kaleb Ramsey, Mike Purcell

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The San Francisco 49ers start up training camp in a month. We continue our pre-camp depth chart breakdown with a look at the defensive line. Position-by-position bubble watch: QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OL | DL | OLB | ILB | CB | S | Specialists

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers are just over a month 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.

LocksGlenn Dorsey, Ian Williams, Darnell Dockett, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Arik Armstead
Strong BubbleTony Jerod-Eddie
Weak BubbleMike Purcell, Kaleb Ramsey, Lawrence Okoye
LongshotsGarrison Smith

The 49ers are seeing significant transition on the defensive line, with Justin Smith retiring, and the team releasing Ray McDonald late last season. Ian Williams is the only returning starter from last year's Week 1 defensive line. Glenn Dorsey returns after a biceps injury cost him the 2014 season, but he will likely move outside to the defensive end position. Third year defensive tackle Quinton Dial stands a good chance of playing at the other end position. That potentially leaves Tank Carradine and Darnell Dockett rotating in on passing downs with some regularity. Add in rookie Arik Armstead, and I think it is safe to say those six locks are fairly consensus.

After that is where things get difficult. Well, I see it as difficult, while others might disagree. Tony Jerod-Eddie signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2012, and has quietly worked his way into a solid reserve role. He appeared in one game in 2012, 15 games in 2013 and all 16 games last season. He started at left defensive tackle the final two games of the 2014 season following McDonald's release. Suffice to say, he's been around for a while, and likely has support from Jim Tomsula.

The weak bubble guys all bring with them their share of question marks. Mike Purcell spent all of 2013, and all but two weeks in 2014 on the 49ers practice squad. After the 49ers released Ray McDonald, the team promoted Purcell from the practice squad. He appeared in both games, getting nine snaps in Week 16 and 19 snaps in Week 17.

The 49ers drafted Kaleb Ramsey in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He took part in the offseason workout program, but suffered an injury during that period that put him on the PUP list for training camp. He spent the season on the PUP list, but now is reportedly healthy. Of course, he struggled to stay healthy in college, so that will be something to track.

Lawrence Okoye signed with the 49ers as a UDFA following the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent the 2013 season on injured reserve, and then spent 2014 on the practice squad. We don't really know where he stands in his development following a season serving on the scout team, and otherwise learning all the more about American football.

I knocked Smith down to longshot because he was a late addition to the team this past December. It might be unfair given that I just don't know enough about him at this point. But how much higher on the totem pole is Lawrence Okoye for people at this point? He is a decade behind a lot of other players his age, but you figure he has had a two-year crash course from Jim Tomsula. Maybe that combined with his athletic gifts bode well for him 2015.