Saturday was an enormous day around the NFL, with over a thousand players getting cut, a few trades, and one extremely unfortunate update to the injury list. The 49ers made their final cuts, although the roster is not entirely set for week one - Jerick McKinnon (season ending ACL injury) and Erik Magnuson (hamstring) are both on the roster, but are expected to be added to IR. This will leave two open spots for new players.
The 53-man roster is fairly straightforward, with the only major surprises coming in the linebacker corps. Pita Taumoepenu was cut, and both Elijah Lee and Mark Nzeocha - both “weak bubble” type guys - made it to the initial 53. Although dependent upon the upcoming signings, it seems likely that one or the other will eventually yield a roster spot to Reuben Foster upon his return from suspension. Furthermore, despite hopes that he might live up to his potential as a former 2nd-round pick, 2018 free agent signing Jeremiah Attaochu was cut, which wasn’t necessarily a surprise after his anonymous-at-best preseason.
As previously mentioned, Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL in a non-contact incident in his first practice back from a calf injury. After receiving a large deal and apparently being handed the reins, this is a major blow to the 49ers offense. In his place, I’d wager that Alfred Morris takes at least a simple majority of the snaps, with Matt Breida getting a fair share, including passing down duties. Furthermore, the team will most likely sign another RB, although I’m not convinced it will be recently-waived Joe Williams.
Finally, the Khalil Mack sweepstakes are over. It’s unusual to see an elite defender in the prime of their career traded, and the lead-up to the actual transaction was like a rollercoaster. “Will he be traded? Won’t he? How many firsts?” It’s reported that John Lynch pursued the Mack trade aggressively, but eventually, the Chicago Bears sealed the deal by offering two firsts and a third, receiving Mack and recouping a second rounder. While it would’ve been extremely useful to add a player of his caliber to our roster, the price tag was mighty high. However, it should be fun to see what Bears DC Vic “Lord” Fangio can do with such a high powered piece for his defense.
2018 season predictions | DeSimone, 4th & 9