With the draft in the books I've went ahead and mapped out the roster. It's too early to make definitive calls on many of these competitions, but I like the idea of the roster getting better, and that's what competition is all about. The coaches will say that nothing is set yet, but many positions are pretty much locked up baring injury or unexpected developments. I've tried to map out where things might really be up in the air. How do you think these shake out:
1. Backup QB: Matt Barkley vs. CJ Beathard: Most likely we carry 3 QB's on the roster, but it's not a lock. Clearly Kyle likes CJ. Can he win the number two spot as a rookie?
2. Backup RB: Tim Hightower vs. Kapri Bibbs vs. DuJuan Harris: We might end up carrying 4 RBs on the roster, but team's really only need 3. Hyde and Williams are pretty much locks and I've already written off Mike Davis. Can Kapri or DuJuan unseat Hightower?
3. Wide Reciever #5: Aaron Burbridge vs. Eric Rogers vs. DeAndre Smelter vs. the UDFAs: Burbridge gets the early nod because of special teams, but we don't have a tall receiver on the roster. Rogers (6'3") and Smelter (6'2") could help fix that. WR 1-4 was set in Free Agency, though Aldrick Robinson is not a lock for #4. Note, the team should carry 6 WRs, but I am penciling in rookie Trent Taylor at WR6 and punt returner.
4 TE2/HB: Logan Paulsen vs. George Kittle: Yes, I know some people want to pencil in Kittle as a starter, but he is a rookie. Paulsen is one of Kyle's guys, but Kittle was supposedly one of the best blocking TEs in college. For now I am assuming Vance eventually gets traded, but if not then Celek vs. Bell could be another battle.
5. Reserve Interior OL: Alex Balducci vs. UDFAs: Teams usually carry two interior OL. Kilgore is one (if not starting). Balducci was called up from the PS last year, probably to protect him, but he is a converted DL. This might be the best chance for a UDFA to make the team.
6. Right Tackle: Trent Brown vs. Garry Gilliam: Trent is a great pass blocker, but not the best run blocker in a zone scheme. Gilliam is the opposite. Both make the team, but who gets the starting nod?
7. SAM linebacker: Ahmad Brooks vs. Eli Harold vs. Dekoda Watson for 2 spots: Dekoda was signed from Denver, most likely to be the backup and for special teams. That's leaves Ahmad vs. Eli with the loser most likely not making the final roster. Lynch could factor is at some point, but I think he starts out at LEO. Malcolm Smith also played some SAM in Seattle, but WILL is his natural position. Lot's of options.
8. Backup DE: Tank Carradine vs. Aaron Lynch vs. Ronald Blair for 2 spots: I see Tank backing up the 6tech and Lynch backing up at LEO, but then what about Blair? He lined up a LEO for the first camp, but the 6tech seems like it might be a better fit. The 6tech is what Tank's been groomed for however, so it will be his best chance to finally shine. This is one spot where the coaches might try and make room for all 3, but who knows?
9. Backup DL (3tech): Quinton Dial vs. Chris Jones: I am inclined to lean towards Dial, but Jones didn't do badly jumping into the lineup last year. The new FO brought him back, so they liked what they saw also.
10. WILL linebacker: Malcolm Smith vs. Reuben Foster: Smith is getting paid starter money, and Saleh really like him. Foster has too much talent not to be on the field. First world problems.
11. Starting CB: Dontae Johnson vs Ahkello Witherspoon: Robinson will be penciled in as one starter. Who wins the other job? One interesting stat about our CB group: Dontae is 6'2", Robinson is 6'1", Witherspoon is 6'3", and late draft pick Adrian Colbert is 6'2". Prince, Redmond, and Reaser are all under 6 foot, but the team was talking about giving Brock and extension before he screwed up, so height isn't an absolute requirement.
12. Nickel CB: K'Waun Williams vs. Will Redmond vs. Keith Reaser for two spots: K'Waun was a starter in Cleveland before getting dropped by the team for an injury issue (team said he wasn't injured, he said he was). Redmond was one of Baalke's last ACL projects, and was thought to be a late first rounder before he got hurt. Reaser's been good enough to get on the field, but has never shined.
13. Backup FS: Jaquiski Tartt vs Vinnie Sunseri vs UDFAs: FA Don Jones is listed as a Safety, but he's really a special teams guy. In the first mini-camp Tartt lined up at both Safety positions. Tartt's making the team, but do we only carry 3 real safeties (with Don Jones being the 4th)? CB's Dontae Johnson and Adrian Colbert could both be emergency backups (Colbert has to make the team first). This would allow us to more easily keep a 5th DE or 5th LB.
14. John Theus vs the field: Team's usually keep 8 OL, with 3 being Tackles. In our case, that's Staley, Brown, and Gilliam. Theus has to show enough that he's worth keeping around versus another RB, WR, or defensive player.
Obviously, I'm making some assumptions with all these, but what did I miss? I'm excited to see how these turn out, and what the new regime's vision starts to look like. Let me know who you think rises up this year and go 49ers!