With training camp at the end of July, we’re taking a look at players that will be fighting to make the San Francisco 49ers’ final 53-man roster in 2019. To kick off our series, we’ll be covering groups of players who find themselves on the roster bubble. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, in their third year, have built a team that features the most competitive since the pair took over in 2017. Today, we’re talking about two rookie additions to the offensive line and two familiar defenders.
CB Greg Mabin
The 49ers’ cornerback room features plenty of competition, but spots on the roster are limited. Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett, and K’Waun Williams should all be on the roster come Week 1. D.J. Reed and Tarvarius Moore could also factor in depending on how things shake out at safety. Mabin began 2018 on the practice squad before his promotion in November. He struggled in limited snaps. Mabin will likely compete with fellow undrafted free agent Emmanuel Moseley and sixth-round rookie Tim Harris. He’ll need a solid camp to get the nod over either.
OL Justin Skule
Typically, late Day 3 draft picks still face steep competition to land a spot on the roster. The 49ers’ rebuild has allowed Lynch and Shanahan to keep nearly all of their picks over the past two drafts. Skule, one of the team’s three sixth-round picks this year, has a good chance of landing on the team’s final 53. He’ll compete with former Cleveland Browns tackle Shon Coleman, who spent all of 2018 on the 53-man roster but was inactive for every game. With experience at both ends of the offensive line, Skule will compete to be the active swing tackle behind Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey.
LB Mark Nzeocha
Nzeocha played the role of SAM linebacker and special teams standout for the 49ers in 2018. Standing between him and a spot next season are some significant offseason additions to the linebacking corps. The team signed Kwon Alexander in free agency and drafted Arkansas’ Dre Greenlaw in the fifth round. Fred Warner will return as the team’s starter with Elijah Lee opposite him throughout the offseason program. That’s four spots on the final roster out of play for Nzeocha. To make matters more complicated, veteran Malcolm Smith spent time at SAM linebacker during off the offseason. The 49ers signed Nzeocha to a three-year deal this offseason, but he’ll still need a strong showing to secure his place on the final roster.
OL Ross Reynolds
Reynolds was signed shortly after the draft as a free agent. His path to a roster spot will be challenging, as is the case with most undrafted rookies. Reynolds does have a better-than-average shot at surprising, though. He excels as a run-blocker, earning an overall grade of 80.6 last season from Pro Football Focus. His pass protection is where he falters, earning the second-worst grade in the draft class. Reynolds will be competing with Erik Magnuson and former first-round pick Josh Garnett for the opportunity to back up starters Laken Tomlinson, Mike Person, and Weston Richburg.