The San Francisco 49ers return to practice Tuesday afternoon for a short session, and then depart for joint practices with the Denver Broncos. The team has two games under its belt, but there is some thought that joint practices can provide even more insight in the competition for roster spots.
The third preseason game is viewed as a dress rehearsal of sorts. I don't expect the 49ers to send all their starters out there for a half or more of football, but we'll likely see the longest run of starters that we can expect this preseason. That is followed by the first round of cuts next Tuesday, and then final cuts the following weekend. We are entering crunch time!
We're back with a 53-man roster projection to get you ready for this weekend's 49ers-Broncos matchup. Since last week's projection, we have had a roster move, and some more big performances. The notable transaction was the trade of tight end Derek Carrier for a 2017 fifth round pick. Additionally, the 49ers traded Asante Cleveland for offensive lineman Jordan Devey. I had Carrier on my projection the first two weeks, but obviously that changed. Garrett Celek gets a reprieve! And I'll have more on Devey this week.
I also took the plunge on a couple veterans. I cut Tony Jerod-Eddie and Craig Dahl. I still have a gut feeling that Dahl makes the roster, but in trying to find some room for Nick Bellore, I cut Dahl. My concern is whether or not the team is comfortable with some combination of Jimmie Ward, L.J. McCray and Jaquiski Tartt as reserve options at safety. Hopefully Ward gets on the field this week, but even that is not a certainty. If Ward does not get into the game against Denver, I feel even stronger that Dahl ends up making the team.
As for TJE, Mike Purcell has won me over. He is primarily a nose tackle, but he has gotten some work at end as well. In this projection, he would be Ian Williams's primary backup, and then he would be part of the 49ers goal line defense. With Darnell Dockett, Tank Carradine and Arik Armstead all available as ends and nickel defensive linemen, I think the 49ers can afford to part ways with TJE.
The tight end position seems fairly settled. Busta Anderson will get more opportunities following the trades of Derek Carrier and Asante Cleveland. However, I still think the team tries to hide him and get him to the practice squad.
Jarryd Hayne remains on the roster, and once again, Kendall Hunter is not. If Hunter were healthy I could very much see him on the roster, but with Hayne's emergence, Hunter is behind the eight ball in a big way.
Finally, Corey Lemonier is moving closer and closer to falling off the roster bubble. Marcus Rush had a sack last weekend, and has been pretty solid in late game action. If he moves up to some earlier game action and can build on his first two games, I would strongly consider moving him into my next 53-man roster projection.
QB (2): Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert
RB (4): Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush, Mike Davis, Jarryd Hayne
FB (1): Bruce Miller
WR (5): Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton, DeAndrew White
TE (4): Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Blake Bell,
Derek Carrier Garrett Celek
OT (3): Joe Staley, Erik Pears, Trenton Brown
OG (3): Alex Boone, Marcus Martin, Brandon Thomas
C (2): Joe Looney, Dillon Farrell
DT (7): Darnell Dockett, Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams, Quinton Dial, Tank Carradine,
Tony Jerod-Eddie, Arik Armstead, Mike Purcell
OLB (5): Aaron Lynch, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Corey Lemonier, Nick Bellore
ILB (4): NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, Philip Wheeler, Nick Moody
CB (5): Tramaine Brock, Shareece Wright, Dontae Johnson, Kenneth Acker, Keith Reaser
FS (2): Eric Reid,
Craig Dahl, Jimmie Ward
SS (3): Antoine Bethea, Jaquiski Tartt, L.J. McCray
P (1): Bradley Pinion
K (1): Phil Dawson
LS (1): Kyle Nelson
Reserve/PUP: Daniel Kilgore
Reserve/NFI: DeAndre Smelter
Reserve/Suspended: Jerome Simpson