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 roster that features the most competition since the pair took over in 2017. Today, we’re taking a look at three returning players and an offseason free-agent addition.
TE Ross Dwelley
The tight end competition behind starter George Kittle is wide open, with Dwelley firmly in the mix. The 49ers’ second-year undrafted free agent will be battling against veteran Garrett Celek and rookie Kayden Smith for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. The team also added free agent Levine Toilolo and undrafted rookie Tyree Mayfield, adding more heat to the fire. Celek will miss a significant portion of training camp after undergoing offseason back surgery, allowing Dwelley and the rest of the tight end group to earn a more prominent role. Dwelley’s roster chances are far from guaranteed, and a return to the practice squad is a reality.
S Marcell Harris
The 49ers are committing to new defensive wrinkles in 2019 that would make safeties far more interchangeable than they have been over the past two seasons. This development clouds the role of Harris, who enters into his second year at strong safety for the 49ers. Harris was on the roster for eight games last season and started five, totaling 34 tackles and four tackles for loss. It was an impressive albeit inconsistent debut for the sixth-round rookie. Starter Jaquiski Tartt is capable of playing both strong and free safety, and with Jimmie Ward currently sidelined with a broken collarbone, this leaves Harris with an opportunity to earn additional reps during training camp. Harris’ chances at making the final 53-man roster are strong.
OL Erik Magnuson
One play defined Magnuson’s 2018 - a botched snap that ended any hope of a last-second win against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8. It was an unfortunate turn of events for the undrafted addition that had built up plenty of positive momentum to that point. Magnuson didn’t play again in 2018. He enters into training camp with steep competition for a backup role. The 49ers added free agent Ben Garland, who’s taken first-team reps at center while Weston Richburg recovers from offseason knee surgery. When you also consider the addition of undrafted rookie Ross Reynolds and center Wesley Johnson, it becomes increasingly clear that Magnuson is firmly on the roster bubble in 2019.
LB David Mayo
Mayo is among the several additions made to the 49ers’ group of linebackers this offseason. The team also signed Kwon Alexander to a four-year, $54 million contract and added Arkansas’ Dre Greenlaw in the draft. Mayo is in line to be one of the team’s primary contributors on special teams while serving as a backup to both Alexander and Fred Warner, who’s still recovering from a knee procedure this offseason. $1.1 of Mayo’s $1.25 million cap hit is guaranteed in 2019, indicating an excellent chance he’s on the roster this season.