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What the 49ers bubble watch tells us heading into joint practice with the Texans

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The 49ers are in Houston for joint practices in Week 2 of the preseason. Time to look at the latest bubble watch.

The San Francisco 49ers are less than a month away from Week 1 of the regular season. In the meantime, they are in Houston this week for a pair of joint practices with the Texans followed by a preseason contest on Saturday.

Now that the 49ers have one preseason game under their belt, it’s time for another bubble watch. In July, we put together a pre-training camp bubble watch. That followed our post-draft bubble watch in May.

I made several changes, including one addition to our locks. I was tempted to bump rookie defensive lineman Jullian Taylor from weak to strong, but given his move into the starting lineup while Arik Armstead is out coupled with a strong preseason debut, I would be stunned at this point if the 49ers risked letting him get to waivers. Maybe it’s an overreaction after just one game, but I’m comfortable with it.

I moved wide receivers Aaron Burbridge, Richie James, and Victor Bolden Jr. from weak bubble to strong bubble. That gives us five receivers listed as strong bubble and four as lock. The 49ers will not be keeping all five of those strong bubble receivers, but you can make a convincing case for all of them. I would lean Bourne and James in a roster projection, but Burbridge and Robinson could find a way onto the roster, and Bolden likely remains around for four weeks while serving his PED suspension.

I did not make any changes to the guard competition. Mike Person might move into lock territory soon, but I want to see what kind of practice work Jonathan Cooper and Joshua Garnett get before making that decision.

Finally, I gave Jeff Locke a bump from longshot to weak bubble. I still think Bradley Pinion’s dual threat abilities as a punter and kickoff man is plenty valuable. The issue is that Pinion is entering the final year of his contract. I could see a contract extension, but who knows how the 49ers will decide to value the veteran punter. In the meantime, that opens the door a crack for Locke.

Where do you disagree with this list?

Lock (34)

QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard
RB: Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida
FB: Kyle Juszczyk
WR: Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis
TE: George Kittle, Garrett Celek
OT: Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey
OG: Laken Tomlinson
C: Weston Richburg

DL: DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, Cassius Marsh, Jullian Taylor Kentavius Street (NFI)
LB: Reuben Foster, Malcolm Smith, Eli Harold, Fred Warner
CB: Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jimmie Ward, Tarvarius Moore
S: Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert

K: Robbie Gould
P: Bradley Pinion
LS: Kyle Nelson

Strong Bubble (28)

RB: Raheem Mostert
WR: Kendrick Bourne, Aldrick Robinson, Aaron Burbridge, Richie James, Victor Bolden Jr.
TE: Cole Hikutini
OT: Garry Gilliam
OG: Joshua Garnett, Jonathan Cooper
OL: Mike Person, Erik Magnuson

DL: Earl Mitchell, D.J. Jones, Sheldon Day, Ronald Blair, Jerry Attaochu
LB: Dekoda Watson, Korey Toomer, Brock Coyle, Pita Taumoepenu
CB: K’Waun Williams, Greg Mabin, D.J. Reed, Tyvis Powell
S: Marcell Harris, Chanceller James, D.J. Reed

Weak Bubble (15)

RB: Joe Williams, Jeremy McNichols, Jeffery Wilson, Alfred Morris
WR: None
TE: Cole Wick, Ross Dwelley
OT: Darrell Williams

DL: Will Sutton, Cedric Thornton
LB: Elijah Lee, Mark Nzeocha
CB: Tarvarus McFadden, C.J. Goodwin
S: Antone Exum

P: Jeff Locke

Longshot (13)

QB: Nick Mullens, Jack Heneghan
WR: Max McCaffrey, Steven Dunbar
OT: Andrew Lauderdale, Pace Murphy
OG: Najee Toran, J.P. Flynn
C: Coleman Shelton

DL: Niles Scott
CB: Emmanuel Moseley
S: Terrell Williams, Corey Griffin