After the 53-man roster was finalized on Saturday, general manager John Lynch spoke to the media to discuss the roster. Lynch went in-depth on every position. We’ll keep it to the offense for now, and discuss the defense later, starting with the quarterbacks.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard
Lynch mentioned that there was “a lot of interest, a lot of conversation” about trading one of the team’s backup quarterbacks over the last week. We talked a little bit about this trade topic last Tuesday. Per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, the 49ers were seeking a mid-round pick for either C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens. The obvious suitors are the Colts and the Broncos, who have been working out several quarterbacks over the past week. Both teams only have one quarterback on their active roster.
Lynch said the team would notify the quarterbacks who will be the backup at some point on Monday.
Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Kyle Juszczyk
There wasn’t much debate when it came to the running back position. Jeff Wilson is skilled, but you can find the type of production he provides on every roster. So it wasn’t too surprising that Wilson cleared waivers and was added to the practice squad.
Lynch did provide some comments on Jerick McKinnon and the decision to place him on season-ending injured reserve:
“Being ready in eight weeks just wasn’t going to be an option. And so that decision was kind of made for us. We’re hopeful for Jerick that this (surgery) is successful. We believe it will be. There’s a lot of good news about his knee. Unfortunately, there’s some mechanical issues that didn’t allow him to play this year.”
It has to be gut-wrenching for Lynch to talk about McKinnon.
I know there are some that are a bit worried about this position, considering the injury history. This is a Kyle Shanahan offense. He could get production out of Jeff Wilson if need be. They will be fine.
Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James
Keeping seven receivers still feels like a lot, but we know that Taylor and Hurd will be out for Week 1. This doesn’t mean that the team will carry seven wideouts all season, and they shouldn’t. Jordan Matthews fell victim to a numbers game. Here’s Lynch:
“Nothing but a professional, kind of a victim of circumstance. The draft aligned such that it did, we went out and got two receivers and that made it an uphill battle for Jordan.”
Bourne was up and down all preseason, and Matthews never took advantage.
The kick return battle might be something to keep an eye on. As long as James is on the roster, will it just be him? Or will the 49ers use that as another way for Deebo to get the ball in his hands?
George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Levine Toilolo, Kaden Smith
The decision to keep four tight ends raised some eyebrows for Niners fans. Some of you wanted an additional safety, and others wanted to keep a pass rusher. To me, the decision to keep four tight ends over a pass rusher signals that Bosa is closer to expecting than the time anticipated a week ago. There also must be a belief in Smith’s upside that wasn’t worth risking him on the practice squad. Finally, the value of playing special teams and being able to cover kicks matters.
Lynch also mentioned how the additional tight ends are insurance for Kittle:
“You can’t have him out there every single play of the season. We felt like there was a responsibility for George’s well being and our team’s well being.”
Joe Staley, Laken Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Mike Person, Mike McGlinchey, Ben Garland, Justin Skule, Daniel Brunskill
The 49ers have also added OT Ryan Pope to the practice squad. Lynch, out of nowhere, said the team tried to trade Joshua Garnett, who was waived and went unclaimed. Garnett practiced one day during training camp because of a dislocated finger. Lynch said the team was unable to make a trade because Garnett didn’t play much during the preseason.
The other elephant in the room is the swing tackle. Skule is not the answer. Would you feel comfortable with Brunskill going up against Chandler Jones, Jadeveon Clowney, or a Wade Phillips defense? No thanks. The Houston Texans released Matt Kalil on Sunday.
Kalil is free to sign anywhere. He was good his rookie year but had been trending in the wrong direction ever since then. The 49ers wouldn’t be asking Kalil to be a Pro Bowler, just be able to come in during an emergency situation. Kalil is a better option than Brunskill and Skule; the question becomes will he sign for cheap. Kalil signed a one-year, $3.2 million contract this past free agency.