The San Francisco 49ers opened their offseason workout program, which means the bubble watch can officially begin. The team will eventually have as many as 90 players on the roster, all competing for 53 roster spots, and ten practice squad spots. We'll be going over the bubble watch in depth in the coming weeks and months, but for now, I wanted to look at how free agency impacted the bubble watch.
The 49ers free agency haul includes offensive guard Zane Beadles and quarterback Thad Lewis. The team also re-signed defensive tackle Ian Williams and kicker Phil Dawson, as well as their restricted and exclusive rights free agents, but the outside haul was minimal. On the other side, offensive guard Alex Boone departed in free agency.
And so, the only bubble watch drastically affected is the offensive line. Lewis will compete with Dylan Thompson and others for the bottom of the 49ers QB depth chart, but we'll focus on the offensive line for now.
The big question is what Chip Kelly's offense will mean to the offensive line. Guys like Joe Staley, Daniel Kilgore and Zane Beadles are locks, but other than those three, can we declare anybody a sure thing? Trenton Brown and Andrew Tiller seem like they might be locks, but how will they fit into the new offense? Erik Pears stuck around last year, but would only be a $250,000 dead money hit if released this year. I think he sticks around, but it's not difficult to release him.
Then you move on to the draft picks that have not panned out. Brandon Thomas has yet to see the field in two seasons, following 2014 ACL surgery, and a 2015 high ankle sprain. Marcus Martin has had extensive opportunities, but has struggled to make an impact. I think at least one of the two will be on the roster this fall, and probably both, but the fact that there is any room for debate says enough about their status at this point.