Fooch’s update: The 49ers have a week to decide, so can wait until after the Cardinals game if they want.
The roster exemption for Victor Bolden is up to one week. He returns today from a four-game suspension. The #49ers do not have to make a move this week unless they decide to play him vs. Cardinals. Otherwise, a decision on him must be made by next Monday at 1 p.m.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) October 1, 2018
The San Francisco 49ers have an assortment of injury issues, and head coach Kyle Shanahan said they might have to look at bringing in some healthy bodies at various positions.
While they figure out who to bring in for Tuesday workouts, the 49ers have a decision to make with regard to wide receiver Victor Bolden. Over the summer, the NFL suspended Bolden for four games due to a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He was allowed to take part in training camp and the preseason, but the 49ers then placed him on the Reserve/Suspended list as they cut down to 53 players.
Bolden’s suspension is over, and the team has until Wednesday to figure out what to do. He currently does not count against the 53-man roster, and the 49ers get a two-day exemption to figure out if they want to release a player to make room for Bolden, or release Bolden to free agency.
A year ago, Bolden spent the first 13 games of the season on the 53-man roster, and the final three games on injured reserve. In his 13 games on the roster, Bolden was active for nine games and inactive for four games. He was primarily a special teams player, appearing in 122 special teams snaps and 27 offensive snaps. He was the team’s starting kick returner, with 19 returns for 396 yards (20.8 yards per return).
The 49ers held onto him through the suspension, and while there was nothing lost in keeping him around, it does suggest they might have a spot for him on the roster. At the time of the suspension announcement, Bolden said he unknowingly used a supplement on the NFL’s banned substance list. He acknowledged needing to take full responsibility for not verifying the ingredients of the supplement, and the 49ers seemed to accept that it was an unintentional mistake.
D.J. Reed is currently the team’s starting kick returner, averaging 30.3 yards per return on nine kickoffs. The rules have changed in terms of the kick coverage players being delayed getting down the field, but Reed is fourth in return average, so he’s finding success in the role.
There are currently six wide receivers on the depth chart: Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, and Richie James. Through four games, James has been active once, playing seven offensive snaps and no special teams snaps.
If the 49ers want Bolden back on the roster, my guess is they would release James in hopes he gets through waivers and they can sign him to the practice squad. James was an explosive option in the preseason, but has not been able to earn a spot on the game-day roster aside from the one game active when Marquise Goodwin was hurt.
The 49ers have two days to make a decision, and I suspect any roster move does not formally happen until Wednesday.