The 49ers’ final (for a day, probably) 53-man roster is here. We know the team will keep three quarterbacks. So here’s a look at the rest of the roster.
Per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, DE Jordan Willis and TE Tyler Kroft have agreed to sign with the team later this week after Jimmie Ward and Curtis Robinson are placed on the injured reserve.
Quarterbacks (3): Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy
As Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday afternoon, Jimmy’s presence doesn’t change anything about Lance. It’s his team. Kudos to Purdy for winning a spot on the roster during the preseason. He was entertaining to watch.
Once Week 1 comes, I imagine we’ll see Purdy on the practice squad while the team keeps two active quarterbacks. Expect Purdy to be protected. This could be a way for the 49ers to manipulate the roster and ensure no other team poaches Purdy.
Running backs (6) Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr., Trey Sermon, Ty Davis-Price, Jordan Mason, Kyle Juszczyk
This is a fascinating group as Mitchell starts as the RB1, but there might be a new leader weekly.
Mason averaged five yards a carry during the preseason, with 3.5 yards after contact, and had 31% of his runs go for first downs in the preseason. He’s viewed as a power back at 223 pounds, but he’s faster than most realize. Mason is legit, and the 49ers likely felt it was too risky to sneak him through waivers.
TDP and Sermon will have plenty of opportunities throughout the season. This could turn out to be a battle of attrition.
Wide receivers (5): Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Danny Grey, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud
It seemed as though the 49ers would keep Malik Turner after Shanahan spoke highly of him last week, but the argument I made a couple of weeks ago that you would use/need RB6 more than WR6 came true.
McCloud, Jennings, and probably even Gray, will have to chip in on special teams. Even though the team only kept five wideouts, this could be the best group under Shanahan.
Tight ends (3): George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Ross Dwelley
Kittle and Woerner are the clear top two tight ends on the roster. Whoever was TE3 would have been a special teamer. Dwelley has been around the team for a few years now, and his familiarity likely kept him around over Tyler Kroft.
Offensive line (9): Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Mike McGlinchey, Jaylon Moore, Colton McKivitz, Nick Zakelj, Daniel Brunskill
I wonder how much Zakelj being a draft pick, played into him earning a spot over Jason Poe. Zakelj has a bit more versatility, but he looks far away from being ready. Still, he’s locked in through 2025 at a team-friendly number. If you have two developmental projects, the one with longer control is always more favorable.
Don’t be surprised if Zakelj is the team’s center of the future, and this year is treated as a redshirt for him while he learns the position.
Honestly, everyone had issues during the preseason along the offensive line. Thankfully, Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey — health permitting — will hide a lot of those issues.
Outside of the tackles and Brunskill, there’s youth/inexperience everywhere. That has to be nerve-wracking, knowing you’re an injury away from playing someone who is not ready.
Defensive line (9): Samson Ebukam, Javon Kinlaw, Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, Drake Jackson, Kevin Givens, Hasaan Ridgeway, Kerry Hyder, Charles Omenihu
We’ve said it many times during the offseason, but this group will single-handedly win games for the Niners. Their second team could give some starters around the league a run for its money.
I think Omenihu is in for a big year. The depth allows Jackson to come along slowly and put him in situations where he can thrive.
If Jimmie Ward goes on the IR, expect Dontae Johnson, or Kemoko Turay back.
Linebacker (5): Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Oren Burks
One of the most straightforward positions on the team. There are three clear-cut starters with two special-teamers.
Cornerbacks (5): Charvarius Ward, Emmanuel Moseley, Samuel Womack, Deommodore Lenoir, Ambry Thomas
Ward, Moseley, and Verrett (who does not count against the 53-man roster because he was placed on the PUP list during the summer) are easily the most talented trio of corners the Niners have had with Shanahan. Obviously, Verrett’s health is an ongoing question, but rookie Samuel Womack looks like an immediate difference-maker at nickel. Second-year players Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas round out their depth.
Safeties (4): Jimmie Ward, Talanoa Hufanga, George Odum, Tarvarius Moore
Jimmie Ward is headed to the injured reserve as soon as the roster finalizes, which will open up another spot on the roster. With Ward out for at least the first few games of the season, the pressure will be on Talanoa Hufanga to take a big jump in his sophomore season.
George Odum and Tarvarius Moore will both be tested early in the season, competing for reps while Ward is out. Moore still has all the physical skills to be a fantastic safety but has continued to struggle with fundamentals this preseason. Odum, on the other hand, is undersized but has performed well spelling other safeties in Indianapolis.
Veteran Tashaun Gipson and impressive undrafted free agent Qwuantrezz Knight both were unable to make the cut on the first draft of the 53-man roster, although they both are practice squad candidates with a shot to return once, Ward is IR’d. It’s also worth keeping in mind that former Niner’s safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Tony Jefferson were both released. Either could make a return.
Specialists (3): Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Taybor Pepper
No surprises here. The 49ers stick with their incumbents at long snapper, kicker, and punter.