It's always seemed to be a generally easy proposition to predict the 53-man roster for the San Francisco 49ers. Of course, "always" here is relative to the time I've spent as a writer. Being relatively new to the game at just under five years of work, examining the potential bubble players and shoe-ins has seemed an easier prospect due to the fact that they've been ... well ... not very good.
When it comes to "for sure" players, you had the core group of players universally recognized as not sucking something awful, and the rest was usually simply hoping one player or another actually panned out. Favoritism used to play a big part in it because guys like Kory Sheets, Diyral Briggs and Dominique Zeigler were, you know, potential stars on those teams.
It was all an exercise in futility for those reasons. Now, the 49ers are coming off a season in which they were one game from the Super Bowl and roster spots are at an absolute premium. Any roster projections made now are sure to be put to shame by the actual results in mock-draft fashion, but let's give it a go anyway, shall we?
QB (3): Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Josh Johnson
RB (5): Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Brandon Jacobs, Rock Cartwright
FB (1): Bruce Miller
WR (6): Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, A.J. Jenkins, Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams
TE (3): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Nate Byham
OT (3): Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Mike Person
OG (3): Mike Iupati, Alex Boone, Joe Looney
C (2): Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore
DE (4): Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Demarcus Dobbs, Will Tukuafu
NT (2): Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean Francois
OLB (4): Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Parys Haralson, Cam Johnson
ILB (4): Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Larry Grant, Tavares Gooden
S (4): Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner, C.J. Spillman, Colin Jones, Trenton Robinson
CB (5): Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, Tramaine Brock
K (1): David Akers
P (1): Andy Lee
LS (1): Brian Jennings
Some quick bullet points to note ...
- Someone like Jones will likely be the last one on. I reasoned that the 49ers would be able to stash Jason Slowey on the practice squad, given that they've already shown that they're throwing caution to the wind with the offensive line.
- If a cornerback is cut, I do not believe it will be Perrish Cox. It will likely be Brock.
- Kyle Williams will be one of the last players on as well. He'll likely be battling with Chris Owusu for the roster spot, but will probably make it due to his special teams contributions. The 49ers remain confident in his ability to return punts and kicks despite the NFC Championship game.
- Owusu is the kind of player who should be able to be stashed on the practice squad.
- While this is what I think is likely to happen, the lack of depth at defensive tackle and center (the offensive line in general) is somewhat worrying, but this is likely how it will shake out.