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53-man roster projection heading into 49ers first preseason game vs. Chiefs

The 49ers open their preseason schedule on Friday, so it is time for another roster projection.

The San Francisco 49ers have eight practices under their belts, and we are officially into their first game week! The 49ers will travel to face the Kansas City Chiefs this Friday, and we’ll take the next step in figuring out what the 49ers roster will look like come cut down day.

Now that we’re into game-week, today is as good a day as any to offer up a new 53-man roster projection. Bruce Ellington has been waived, Malcolm Smith is likely headed to injured reserve, and Joshua Garnett could miss a month or more with a knee injury. This impacts several positions, and that coupled with some strong performances mean we can shake up our roster projection from 11 days ago.

Changes to this one include:

In: Victor Bolden; Out: Bruce Ellington - Bolden has gotten a lot of positive press, but really you could slot in several receivers for the sixth spot, and it would not surprise me.

In: Cole Hikutini; Out: Vance McDonald - There has been nothing to indicate any of the incumbent tight ends is making a big step toward securing a job. I’m going with a complete overhaul.

In: Tank Carradine; Out: Ronald Blair - While Solomon Thomas is likely to eventually supplant Tank, the first team reps are big for him. Blair is getting some work all around the defense, but it seems like he is on the wrong side of this equation.

In: Ray Ray Armstrong; Out: Malcolm Smith - Armstrong was a strong bubble option prior to this weekend, but Smith’s potentially season-ending injury would seem to move Armstrong into the lock category.

One move I did not make, but am tempted to is involving the cornerbacks. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser, and Ahkello Witherspoon are competing for the second cornerback spot opposite Rashard Robinson, while K’Waun Williams and Will Redmond are competing for the nickel role. Witherspoon has been a bit slow to come around, but has been making some plays the past few days. Might we see the 49ers keep both Williams and Redmond, and potentially cut Reaser? Johnson has been getting a lot of first team reps, which would suggest he is a bit safer. But how will that group shake out as a whole?

The other option is one less linebacker and one more cornerback. Given the pass-heavy nature of the NFL, that would not be entirely surprising.

QB (3): Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, C.J. Beathard
RB (4): Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, Joe Williams, Matt Breida
FB (1): Kyle Juszczyk
WR (6): Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, Aldrick Robinson, Trent Taylor, Victor Bolden
TE (3): George Kittle, Logan Paulsen, Cole Hikutini
OT (3): Joe Staley, Trent Brown, Garry Gilliam
OG (3): Zane Beadles, Brandon Fusco, Joshua Garnett
C (2): Jeremy Zuttah, Daniel Kilgore

DT (5): DeForest Buckner, Earl Mitchell, D.J. Jones, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial
DE (4): Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch
OLB (3): Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson
MLB (4): NaVorro Bowman, Reuben Foster, Ray Ray Armstrong Brock Coyle
CB (5): Rashard Robinson, Keith Reaser, Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams
S (4): Jimmie Ward, Eric Reid, Jaquiski Tartt, Lorenzo Jerome

K (1): Robbie Gould
P (1): Bradley Pinion
LS (1): Kyle Nelson

Injured reserve: LB Malcolm Smith