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49ers roster moves suggest top of the cornerback depth chart is fine

This bodes well for Richard Sherman in Week 9.

The San Francisco 49ers made a pair of roster moves on Tuesday, releasing wide receiver Victor Bolden and cornerback Greg Mabin. They did not sign two players to add to the roster, but the expectation is they activate outside linebacker Dekoda Watson from the injured reserve list and rookie Marcell Harris from the NFI list. They have both been on the lists since the end of the preseason and are eligible to return this week.

The decision to releasee Mabin offers a hint at the cornerback depth chart heading into Thursday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders. Richard Sherman said last week that he was “pretty sure” he would play in Week 8 against the Cardinals, but he was not so sure about Week 9 given the short turnaround from Sunday to Thursday.

The coaching staff is just using walkthroughs so the players can recuperate on the short week. This means the injury reports are estimated based on if the team went through a full practice. On Monday, Sherman was listed as a DNP and on Tuesday he was listed as limited due to his calf injury. Mabin’s release leaves the team with Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Tarvarius Moore as the primary cornerback options. Jimmie Ward has moved to starting free safety, and Tyvis Powell might start at strong safety if Jaquiski Tartt cannot play on Thursday.

All of that is to say, it seems a safe bet Sherman will be playing on Thursday. As for Mabin, who started in place of an injured Sherman last week? As some have said, the 49ers likely figure they can bring him back off the street with relative ease if they get healthier at other positions and need some cornerback depth. I believe he still has some practice squad eligibility, so the team could also bring him back there in the short term.

In the meantime, the linebacker and safety depth charts are up in the air heading into Week 9. Watson is primarily a SAM linebacker. Malcolm Smith has been playing that position, but Reuben Foster’s hamstring injury in Week 8 moved him to weak side linebacker. If Foster cannot play, Watson would likely start at strong side linebacker.

Marcell Harris will likely serve as depth behind Tyvis Powell this week. Kyle Shanahan said Jaquiski Tartt is “probably doubtful” this week due to a shoulder injury, and Antone Exum is out with a concussion. Robert Saleh said Powell would get the start, and Harris is the only other backup strong safety option.

49ers offensive depth chart vs. Raiders, Week 9

Position First Second Third
Position First Second Third
WR Pierre Garçon Dante Pettis Kendrick Bourne
LT Joe Staley Shon Coleman
LG Laken Tomlinson
C Weston Richburg Erik Magnuson
RG Mike Person Joshua Garnett
RT Mike McGlinchey Garry Gilliam
TE George Kittle Garrett Celek Ross Dwelley
WR Marquise Goodwin Trent Taylor Richie James Jr.
RB Matt Breida OR Alfred Morris Raheem Mostert
FB Kyle Juszczyk
QB C.J. Beathard Nick Mullens Tom Savage

49ers defensive depth chart vs. Raiders, Week 9

Position First Second Third
Position First Second Third
LDE Solomon Thomas Cassius Marsh
LDT Earl Mitchell D.J. Jones
RDT DeForest Buckner Sheldon Day
RDE Arik Armstead Ronald Blair III Jullian Taylor
SAM Malcolm Smith Mark Nzeocha
MIKE Fred Warner Elijah Lee
WILL Reuben Foster
LCB Richard Sherman Tarvarius Moore
RCB Ahkello Witherspoon
NB K'Waun Williams
FS Jimmie Ward D.J. Reed Tyvis Powell
SS Jaquiski Tartt Antone Exum, Jr.

49ers special teams depth chart vs. Raiders, Week 9

Position First Second Third
Position First Second Third
P Bradley Pinion
K Robbie Gould
H Bradley Pinion
PR Richie James Dante Pettis D.J. Reed
KOR Richie James D.J. Reed
LS Kyle Nelson