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49ers bubble watch following first three practices

The 49ers are through three days of practice. Let’s update the bubble watch.

The San Francisco 49ers have Wednesday off following three days of practice. They had their first padded practice on Tuesday, although it did not involve live tackling in the drills. The day off sounds like it will be welcome however, as the pads brought a new element to Chip Kelly’s frenetic pace. Eric Reid pointed out how adding pads has players noticing the tempo that much earlier.

The 49ers first preseason game is in a week-and-a-half, but with the first day off, today seemed like a good time to re-assess the bubble watch. This kind of assessment will feature some overreaction, but we can at least consider how people are moving up and down in our eyes. We did a bubble watch back in June, following the close of minicamp, so you can compare this one to that link.

I did not make many changes. Injuries impact things a little bit, and of course some recent roster additions. Ian Williams and Kaleb Ramsey were removed from the list, Anthony Davis was inserted at strong bubble, and DL B.J. McBryde was added as a longshot. I was pondering lock for Davis, particularly in light of the positive reports, but his status in coming back raises a lot of questions. I don’t really know what to expect with the 49ers roster decision, so for now he’s strong bubble.

I bumped Trent Brown up from strong bubble to lock. He’s getting first team reps at right tackle, and it has been mostly positive reports coming out of camp. I want to see if the first team reps continue, but for the time being, he would seem to be in excellent shape.

Andrew Tiller has been getting first team right guard reps, but with Joshua Garnett reported and practicing, I don’t know what it means for Tiller and Brandon Thomas. I think one of them will make the roster, but I don’t really know which one. My guess is Tiller given the first team work, but it’s not quite as clear. I suppose I could bump him up like I did with Brown, but his situation just feels a little bit different. Some will say Tiller and Brown should both be the same status, but it’s just my gut feeling for now.

I pondered moving Mike Purcell up to lock, but the nose tackle situation remains unsettled. He is getting first team reps, but the team also worked Quinton Dial in over there. I think between Purcell and Tony Jerod-Eddie, at least one makes the roster, but I’m not entirely sure who at this point. I think it is Purcell, and think he is a “stronger” bubble, but there’s some uncertainty.

The most notable other moves I made were to bump Bruce Miller and Vance McDonald down from lock to strong bubble. I do think both make the roster, but there are just enough question marks that I think it’s worth lowering them. The team extended Celek, and is only a year into Blake Bell’s conversion to NFL tight end. I can see the argument for dropping Bell a spot since he was “only” a fourth round pick, but I think he did enough last season that he has bought himself another year, at least.

I still have no idea what to do with the wide receivers. Chip Kelly said Torrey Smith is the only sure thing in the group. I bumped DeAndre Smelter down to strong bubble for the time being. I think most of that strong bubble group is on the roster, but there are enough questions that I’m playing it safe and just saying, well some of them will make it, but I don’t know who. Huzzah for the skill positions!


QB: Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick
RB: Carlos Hyde
WR: Torrey Smith
TE: Garrett Celek, Blake Bell
OL: Joe Staley, Zane Beadles, Daniel Kilgore, Joshua Garnett, Trent Brown

DL: Arik Armstead, Quinton Dial, DeForest Buckner, Glenn Dorsey, Ronald Blair
OLB: Aaron Lynch, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Tank Carradine
ILB: NaVorro Bowman, Gerald Hodges, Michael Wilhoite
CB: Tramaine Brock, Jimmie Ward, Dontae Johnson, Will Redmond, Rashard Robinson
S: Eric Reid, Antoine Bethea, Jaquiski Tartt
K: Phil Dawson
P: Bradley Pinion
LS: Kyle Nelson

Strong bubble

QB: None
RB: Mike Davis, Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris, Kelvin Taylor
WR: Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton, Eric Rogers, DeAndre Smelter
TE: Bruce Miller, Vance McDonald
OL: Andrew Tiller, Brandon Thomas, Marcus Martin, John Theus, Fahn Cooper, Erik Pears, Anthony Davis

DL: Mike Purcell, Tony Jerod-Eddie
OLB: Corey Lemonier
ILB: Ray-Ray Armstrong, Nick Bellore, Shayne Skov
CB: Kenneth Acker, Marcus Cromartie, Keith Reaser, Chris Davis
S: L.J. McCray

Weak bubble

QB: Jeff Driskel, Thad Lewis
RB: None
WR: Dres Anderson, Aaron Burbridge, DiAndre Campbell, Jerome Simpson, DeAndrew White
TE: None
OL: Alex Balducci, Ian Silberman, Colin Kelly

DL: Garrison Smith, Darren Lake
OLB: Marcus Rush
ILB: None
CB: None
S: None


QB: None
RB: Kendall Gaskins
WR: Devon Cajuste, Bryce Treggs
TE: Busta Anderson, Je’Ron Hamm
OL: Norman Price, Blake Muir

DL: Demetrius Cherry, B.J. McBryde
OLB: Jason Fanaika, Lenny Jones
ILB: Wynton McManis
CB: Prince Charles Iworah
S: Jered Bell
K: John Lunsford