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49ers bubble watch heading into the final preseason game

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I have the 49ers with 38 players locked in.

The San Francisco 49ers wrap up their 2017 preseason schedule on Thursday when they host the Los Angeles Chargers. The team will sit a lot of their starters, which means plenty of playing time for backups. The 49ers roster turnover means a sizable chunk of the 53-man roster is still up in the air.

Our latest bubble watch reflects that, but we do have some players who appear locked in to roster spots. I bumped cornerbacks Dontae Johnson and K’Waun Williams, defensive lineman Tank Carradine, linebackers Eli Harold, and Dekoda Watson, and safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Lorenzo Jerome from strong to lock. Below them, I bumped running back Raheem Mostert, tight end Blake Bell, and safeties Don Jones and Vinnie Sunseri from weak bubble to strong bubble.

Don Jones, Vinnie Sunseri, and Brock Coyle all appear to be competing for special teams roles. Dekoda Watson is as well, but he is also the only notable SAM backup at this point, which is why I bumped him up to lock status. Coyle likely is on the team with Ray Ray Armstrong as the only MIKE/WILL backup, but I’m holding off for now.

The Vance McDonald trade, along with a report the team is shopping Garrett Celek leaves the tight end position fairly wide open. I bumped Blake Bell up because he has been getting a lot of special teams work this preseason. He is among the team leaders in special teams snaps, and while that could just be to fill out the unit, I feel like it bodes well for where he sits in the pecking order.

It’s not exactly ideal to have the team’s two potential Week 1 starting guards on the bubble list, but that tells us where we stand with regard to the interior line. Four or five of the strong bubble offensive linemen will make the team, but there are just enough questions that I can’t say with certainty who it will be. I am fairly certain both Zane Beadles and Brandon Fusco make the roster, but I’m not 100 percent certain.

And of course, there’s the quarterback position. I am pretty sure Matt Barkley makes the roster, but again, I can’t say that with 100 percent certainty. I am more certain after Sunday’s game, but I could see a scenario where Beathard impresses on Thursday, and the team decides to go with two quarterbacks. I don’t think there is a great chance of that, but I see it as being at least on the table.

I currently have 38 players listed as locks, with 24 listed as strong bubble.

Lock

QB: Brian Hoyer, C.J. Beathard
RB: Carlos Hyde, Joe Williams, Kyle Juszczyk, Matt Breida
WR: Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson
TE: George Kittle
OL: Joe Staley, Trent Brown, Joshua Garnett, Daniel Kilgore

DL: Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Earl Mitchell, Elvis Dumervil, Tank Carradine
LB: NaVorro Bowman, Reuben Foster, Ray Ray Armstrong, Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson
CB: Rashard Robinson, Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams
S: Jimmie Ward, Eric Reid, Jaquiski Tartt, Lorenzo Jerome

ST: Robbie Gould, Kyle Nelson, Bradley Pinion

Strong Bubble

QB: Matt Barkley
RB: Tim Hightower, Raheem Mostert
WR: Victor Bolden, Kendrick Bourne, Aaron Burbridge
TE: Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek, Blake Bell
OL: Zane Beadles, Brandon Fusco, Garry Gilliam, Erik Magnuson, Tim Barnes, John Theus

DL: Quinton Dial, Aaron Lynch, Ronald Blair, Chris Jones, D.J. Jones
LB: Brock Coyle
CB: Keith Reaser
S: Don Jones, Vinnie Sunseri

ST: None

Weak Bubble

QB: None
RB: Kapri Bibbs
WR: DeAndre Carter, DeAndre Smelter, Tim Patrick, Louis Murphy
TE: Cole Hikutini
OL: None

DL: Pita Taumoepenu, Sen’Derrick Marks
LB: Shayne Skov, Austin Calitro
CB: Will Redmond
S: Adrian Colbert

ST: None

Longshot

QB: Nick Mullens
RB: Tyler McCloskey
WR: None
TE: None
OL: Norman Price, Andrew Lauderdale, JP Flynn, Darrell Williams, Andrew Gardner

DL: Noble Nwachukwu, Leger Douzable
LB: None
CB: Will Davis, Prince Charles Iworah, Asa Jackson
S: None

ST: Nick Rose