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49ers final 53-man projection heading into the preseason finale

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Taking a shot at the practice squad this time around as well

San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

This will be the final installment of our 53-man roster projections for the San Francisco 49ers. You were not with last weeks prediction. I don’t think some of those players I had listed will make the roster, but I mentioned that it’s the preseason and things change weekly. If you didn’t know Dontae Johnson’s name, you’d want him on the roster over the oft-injured Jason Verrett. There will be some noticeable changes this week, so let’s get into it.

Quarterback-3

Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard

Kyle Shanahan said that he is not going to cut an NFL player. I believe him. The 49ers are sure to get some calls about Mullens or Beathard, but the offer is going to have to be too good to turn down.

Running back-4

Matt Breida, Kyle Juszczyk, Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert

The only suspense with this group is who will lead the team in touches. Ideally, it’s Breida. Shanahan mentioned that the hope is to get McKinnon back to practice at some point this week. I have him going on the injured reserve, with the designation to return. The issue here is McKinnon would have to make the initial 53-man this weekend, and the Niners would risk losing a player to waivers they would otherwise keep.

Receiver-7

Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor, Marquise Goodwin, Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, Richie James, Jordan Matthews

This is near impossible. Shanahan talks about Kendrick Bourne as if he’s his son. Objectively, James has outplayed Bourne this summer. The first five receivers are locks. I love Bourne, but what can he do that the other guys can’t? James and Samuel can return kicks, while Hurd can be the “big body” receiver. It’s not that I’m taking Bourne out, I’m just putting the other guys in.

Jordan Matthews has the veteran experience, but he lacks the explosiveness of the younger receivers. I’m trying to read between the lines, and Matthews has played more and more special teams snaps the last two weeks, and that will give him the edge over Bourne, who hasn’t played on special teams. Matthews has been on both kick/punt coverage and return.

Tight end-2

George Kittle, Ross Dwelley

If you keep seven wideouts and three quarterbacks, you have to go thin somewhere. Kyle Juszczyk can play tight end in a pinch, and Hurd has lined up as an inline tight end in practice and the preseason. Kaden Smith will make the practice squad, while Levine Toilolo hasn’t done enough to warrant a spot.

Offensive line-9

Joe Staley, Laken Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Mike Person, Mike McGlinchey, Ben Garland, Sam Young, Najee Toran, Daniel Brunskill

The injury to Shon Coleman still stings. I believe Josh Garnett’s window has closed with the team. Both Shanahan and John Lynch have said that he has to prove he can stay healthy and compete. Is he supposed to do that in a few days? Good luck. Once you get past the starters and Garland, you’re reaching for NFL bodies. Brunskill can play two positions and is a former Atlanta Falcon, so he gets the nod over Justin Skule.

Defensive line-9

Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, D.J. Jones, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Ronald Blair, Sheldon Day, Damontre Moore

The only position that is really up for debate is the final edge spot. Do you roll with Kentavius Street and hope that Kris Kocurek can mold the young, energetic pass rusher? Or do you go with the player that has done precisely what you look for by getting after the quarterback in Moore? To me, Moore has outperformed Street, and it’s not even close. I think Street will eventually make it, but for me, I am going with the better pass rusher.

Kevin Givens is the perfect defensive tackle to stash on your practice squad. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s active for the 49ers at some point this season, especially against a team that likes to spread it out.

Linebacker-6

Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander, Dre Greenlaw, Elijah Lee, Azeez Al-Shaair, LaRoy Reynolds

Malcolm Smith has been nursing a hamstring injury. He played six defensive snaps Saturday night against the Chiefs, while Alexander played 23 snaps, and Warner played 22. The value isn’t there. One play stands out from Week 2 when Denver ran an end-around play, and Smith gets blocked by a wide receiver and allows a big running lane. What are we doing here?

When the 49ers came out to start the second half, it was Greenlaw, Reynolds, and Al-Shaair on the field. Lee makes the team over Mayo, despite his injury that has sidelined him the past two weeks. This is DeMeco Ryans going with athleticism and upside over safe.

Cornerback-6

Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams, D.J. Reed, Emmanuel Moseley

Moseley is the real loser with the return of Jimmie Ward, but he has done enough to make the roster. If Verrett is healthy, I wonder if he’ll get a chance to unseat Witherspoon as the starter if Witherspoon doesn’t take the next step. Something to keep an eye on will be if Williams loses snaps to Ward in the slot when he returns as well.

Safety-4

Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Tarvarius Moore, Marcell Harris

Adrian Colbert was tweeting about his Miami Hurricanes during Saturday’s game against the Chiefs. That tells me he’s gone. I love Tartt in the box. I don’t think he’s nearly as effective further away from the line of scrimmage. This is the team doing everything they can to keep Ward on the field. I’d have no issues with Ward in the slot, Tartt patrolling the middle, and Moore deep.

Specialists-3

Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Colin Holba

The legend of Wishnowsky continues to grow after a 62-yard punt.

Practice Squad-7

Jeff Wilson, Malik Henry, Kaden Smith, Justin Skule, Ross Reynolds, Julian Taylor, Kevin Givens,

You can put ten players on the practice squad, and I believe three of the spots will be filled by players that are currently not on the 90-man roster. I’m going to lose it if they keep Wilton Speight here. One of those would have been Tim Harris, but he’s on the IR now.