49ers

49ers' 53-man roster not completely set: 'If we feel like someone can help...'

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AP

49ers' 53-man roster not completely set: 'If we feel like someone can help...'

The 49ers are not finished piecing together their regular-season roster. The team cut down to the 53-man roster maximum on Saturday, but will likely add a defensive lineman as early as Sunday.

The 49ers expect to create a roster spot with Ronald Blair going on injured reserve due to a thumb injury. Because Blair made it onto the initial 53-man roster, he will be eligible to return later in the season.

General manager John Lynch said the team’s personnel staff has been studying every NFL roster, trying to project which players might be available. Because the 49ers had the second-worst record in the league last year, the 49ers will be No. 2 behind the Cleveland Browns when it comes to priority of waiver claims.

“I hope I’m never No. 2 on the waiver claim again,” Lynch said Saturday afternoon. “But it’s a nice spot to be sitting in.

“If we feel like someone can help us and improve who we are as a team – both in the short term and long term – then we won’t hesitate.”

Among the other topics Lynch addressed during his aconference call with Bay Area reporters were: 

--The 49ers do not know whether free safety Jimmie Ward, who missed all of training camp will be available for the season opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 10.

“That’s still fluid,” Lynch said. “I was watching Jimmie outside my window here earlier going through a great workout. We’re going to do what’s right for Jimmie and what’s right for the team, in terms of Week 1. To be perfectly honest, we don’t know that right now.”

--The 49ers kept running backs Carlos Hyde, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert, along with fullback Kyle Juszczyk. And all of them better be ready to see some action, Lynch said.

“Carlos is going to be featured in this deal, but Matt Breida is very much a part of our plans,” Lynch said.

Breida earned his way on the roster after going undrafted out of Georgia Southern.

--The 49ers signed Jeremy Kerley to a three-year, $8.4 million contract in March that included $2.8 million in guaranteed money. But Kerley was deemed expendable and released.

“Jeremy was just a victim of circumstance, in that when we signed Jeremy we didn’t have any of these receivers on our roster,” Lynch said, referring to Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, Trent Taylor, Victor Bolden and Kendrick Bourne.

“He’s not going to have trouble hooking on with a team,” Lynch said. “That was as tough call, but once we got Trent Taylor in that slot position, and once we saw Trent could handle it, and handle it right away, we said it was going to be hard for Jeremy to make the roster.”

--Running back Joe Williams did not believe his left ankle injury was serious on Thursday night. But the team made the decision after he underwent an MRI examination on Friday to place him on season-ending injure reserve.

“That was kind of a surprise to us,” Lynch said of the severity of Lynch’s injury. “Once they scanned it, we made the decision, along with our medical staff, that this was the best course of action for Joe. That’s a tough loss because he’s a guy we felt could really contribute in a big way for us.

He’s going to be a big part of our future, in my mind. Disappointing we had to put him on injured reserve, but the right thing to do, in our mind.”

--Lynch said he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with every player who was released during the two days that the 49ers made their cuts to the 53-player maximum. For Lynch, who played in the NFL, he said it was an enlightening experience to go through it for the first time from the other side.

“I never take those conversations lightly,” Lynch said. “What I’m very proud about is both myself and Kyle got a chance to talk with each and every player that we released. I think that makes them feel good. They don’t always agree with our reasoning, but at least when we look them in the eye and tell them the truth, they feel like they’ve received that respect.”

--The 49ers brought guard Joshua Garnett into the decision-making process that eventually landed him on season-ending IR with a knee injury. Garnett underwent surgery during the third week of training camp. He would have been doing nothing but rehabbing for six weeks, Lynch said.

“We felt like giving Josh the entire year to really rehab this thing correctly was the right course of action,” Lynch said. “He was very much a part of the decision. We presented it to him. He got comfortable. It gave him peace. We think it’s the best situation for him.”

--Undrafted rookie Erik Magnuson will open the season as the backup center behind Daniel Kilgore. Left guard Zane Beadles is also capable of playing center.

--The 49ers kept 14 rookies on their initial 53-man roster.

Said Lynch, “I think it’s more indicative of we feel we had a really good draft. Time will tell. They made our 53-man roster. Now, they have to play.”

* * *

49ERS ROSTER
Quarterback

C.J. Beathard
Brian Hoyer

Running back
Matt Breida
Carlos Hyde
Kyle Juszczyk
Raheem Mostert

Wide receiver
Victor Bolden
Kendrick Bourne

Pierre Garçon
Marquise Goodwin
Aldrick Robinson
Trent Taylor

Tight end
Garrett Celek
George Kittle
Logan Paulsen

Offensive line
Zane Beadles
Trent Brown
Brandon Fusco
Garry Gilliam
Daniel Kilgore
Erik Magnuson
Joe Staley
John Theus
Laken Tomlinson

Defensive line
Arik Armstead
Ronald Blair
DeForest Buckner
Tank Carradine
Elvis Dumervil
D.J. Jones
Aaron Lynch
Earl Mitchell
Pita Taumoepenu
Solomon Thomas

Linebacker
Ray-Ray Armstrong
NaVorro Bowman
Brock Coyle
Reuben Foster
Eli Harold
Dekoda Watson

Cornerback
Dontae Johnson
Keith Reaser
Rashard Robinson
K'Waun Williams
Ahkello Witherspoon

Safety
Adrian Colbert
Lorenzo Jerome

Eric Reid
Jaquiski Tartt
Jimmie Ward

Specialists
Robbie Gould
Bradley Pinion
Kyle Nelson

Rookies in italics

Inactives: 49ers third-round pick yet to make his debut

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USATSI

Inactives: 49ers third-round pick yet to make his debut

As the 49ers take on the Rams on Thursday Night Football, the team will be without five defenders and two from offense. 

Ahkello Witherspoon, who the team drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, will have to wait to make his debut another week. 

Below is the full list of inactives from Insider Matt Maiocco. 

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

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AP

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

SANTA CLARA – After spending the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, inside linebacker Brock Coyle knows how it is supposed to look.

And he believes the 49ers have gotten off to a good start under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who has installed a scheme based on the Seahawks’ blueprint.

“What’s really cool about this defense is if you look at Seattle, Jacksonville and Atlanta, they all have their different traits, their different personalties and their characteristics,” Coyle said. “And we’re building our own identity on defense.

“You see guys flying around and growing. And this was just our second regular-season game together in this defense.”

Saleh uses such terms as “all gas no brakes” and “extreme violence” to describe the kind of style he wants to see from his defense. In the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers seemed to compete physically with the Seahawks for the first time in a long time.

On the first possession of the game, 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt set the tone when he separated Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham from the ball with a big hit. Graham was never a factor in the game, catching just one pass for 1 yard.

“If you’re looking from a progress standpoint, I don’t look at so much production as much as what it looks like on tape and the violence, the speed, attacking the ball, that’s what I’m excited about,” Saleh said.

The 49ers will have another chance on a quick turnaround to establish that identity on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster will miss his second game in a row with a high-ankle sprain. Ray-Ray Armstrong started against Seattle, alongside NaVorro Bowman, but Saleh said Coyle also fits into his plan.

Coyle entered the game at Seattle in the first half in place of Armstrong, and Saleh hinted he could use both players more interchangeably until Foster returns.

“He deserves it,” Saleh said of Coyle. “He works his tail off and he works hard and we wanted to make sure that we got him some more reps. And to be honest with you, I feel he should probably get a little bit more.

“He’s a great communicator and knows everybody’s job on the football field. He’s very, very strong at the point of attack and he is pretty athletic and fast.”

The 49ers' physicality is showing up on the early downs, as the defense leads the league in allowing just 2.7 yards per play on first downs. But the 49ers have to get a lot better on the down that matters most. The 49ers rank 23rd on third downs, allowing the opposition through two games to convert 46.9 percent of their opportunities.

“Third down is a major emphasis -- every week it is," Saleh said. "We faced 12 more plays than we needed to that first drive just because a lack of execution on that first third-down and 9. We were in great position to get off the field.

"We’ve got to tackle and that takes all 11 running to the ball because a lot of times that first guy does miss, but we can help ourselves a lot by being better on third down for sure.”