49ers' 2017 roster projection, 1.0


49ers' 2017 roster projection, 1.0

The general public got its first glimpse of the 2017 edition of the 49ers on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium.

An announced crowd of more than 25,000 watched the team’s final practice before a day off. The 49ers now head into a week that culminates with their exhibition opener Saturday Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The day producted two significant injury developments:

--Linebacker Malcolm Smith’s season-ending pectoral tear is a big blow to the team. The 49ers will turn to rookie Reuben Foster and Ray-Ray Armstrong to take it from here.

--Guard Joshua Garnett was in competition for a starting job. With him expected to be out of action for at least a month – approximatley four to six weeks – due to a knee condition, it looks as if Zane Beadles has a clear path to remain as a starter.

Here is a look at NBCSportsBayArea.com’s current roster projection. Of course, there are still plenty of practices and four exhibition games to allow for roster fluctuations:

Brian Hoyer
Matt Barkley
C.J. Beathard
Hoyer has been extremely consistent on the practice field while also owning the role of starting quarterback from a leadership standpoint. There’s solid competition for the No. 2 job between Barkley and Beathard. “They’ve been competing,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I think they’ve had even reps. I think it’s a good battle for us. We’ve been looking at it every day and they’re going to make it tough on us.”

Carlos Hyde
FB Kyle Juszczyk
Tim Hightower
Joe Williams
Matt Breida
Williams, a fourth-round draft pick, has picked it up, as Breida is no longer clearly the best rookie on the roster. Kapri Bibbs and Raheem Mostert remain in the picture. The 49ers acquired Bibbs from the Broncos in a draft-day trade. It’s uncertain how much time he will miss with a shoulder injury sustained during Saturday’s practice.

Pierre Garçon
Marquise Goodwin
Jeremy Kerley
Aldrick Robinson
Trent Taylor
Aaron Burbridge
The top five spots appear established. Burbridge wins his way onto the roster based on his strong showing on special teams. DeAndre Smelter, Victor Bolden, Kendrick Bourne and DeAndre Carter have shown enough to remain in the battle for spots on the roster and/or practice squad. Veteran Louis Murphy is playing catchup.

George Kittle
Logan Paulsen
Cole Hikutini
Vance McDonald is making a solid run at holding onto his spot with the team. Trade talks surrounding McDonald could begin again if Kittle gets healthy, remains healthy, and proves he is an every-down option. Paulsen and Hikutini could have specialized roles as a blocker and receiver, respectively. Garrett Celek and Blake Bell are in fights to hold onto their roster spots, too.

LT Joe Staley
LG Zane Beadles
C Daniel Kilgore
RG Brandon Fusco
RT Trent Brown
Joshua Garnett
Garry Gilliam
Jeremy Zuttah
Zuttah, who made the Pro Bowl last season while with the Baltimore Ravens, has not distinguished himself, yet. His roster spot is not assured, but he has value because of his versatility to play center and both guard positions. Veteran center Tim Barnes has a chance to play his way onto the roster in the next month. The 49ers could keep as many as three of the young, developmental players on the practice squad.

LE Solomon Thomas
NT Earl Mitchell
DT DeForest Buckner
RE Arik Armstead
Elvis Dumervil
Chris Jones
Tank Carradine
D.J. Jones
Aaron Lynch
Quinton Dial is a starter in this league. But he does not appear to be a good fit in the 49ers’ new 4-3 defensive scheme. The presence of Mitchell and D.J. Jones at nose tackle could make Dial a strong trade candidate. Lynch has done everything asked of him, but he still has more work to do. His ability to also serve as a backup at strong side linebacker gives the 49ers some flexibility with its roster. Rookie Pita Taumoepenu looks to be targeted for the practice squad. (Updated: Carradine and Ronald Blair are probably competing for one of the final spots in this group. Both are lining up at the LDE, where Thomas will eventually take over as the starter. Carradine has been with the first team, while Blair is working primarily with the third string.)

SLB Ahmad Brooks
MLB NaVorro Bowman
WLB Reuben Foster
Ray-Ray Armstrong
Dekoda Watson
Brock Coyle
Malcolm Smith’s season-ending injury creates a roster spot for someone who would have been on the outside looking in. Eli Harold is out indefinitely with a concussion. Harold and Watson are likely fighting for the same spot. Coyle has special-teams value.

Rashard Robinson
Dontae Johnson
K’Waun Williams
Will Redmond
Keith Reaser
Ahkello Witherspoon
Rookie Adrian Colbert, who sustained an ankle sprain during practice, is big-bodied cornerback who appears ticketed for the practice squad. Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, should be a lock on the 53-man roster but has the look of a player who will be inactive during the regular season as the 49ers continue to groom him.

Eric Reid
Jimmie Ward
Jaquiski Tartt
Lorenzo Jerome
Ward is expected to be ready to be activated off the physically-unable-to-perform list in mid-August. Jerome and fellow undrafted rookie Chanceller James have opened eyes. James is knocking on the door for a roster spot, and he can win a job if he proves his value as a core special-teams contributor. Veterans Vinnie Sunseri and Don Jones also remains in the conversation.

Robbie Gould
Bradley Pinion
Kyle Nelson
This group is set, as Gould replaces Phil Dawson as the kicker. It remains to be seen whether Gould or Pinion will handle the kickoff chores.

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL


Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers


Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.