49ers initial 53-man roster breakdown

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49ers initial 53-man roster breakdown

The 49ers are down to 53 players.

But will the 53 players they settled on Friday at 6 p.m. be the same 53 players they have on the practice field Saturday at 1:30 p.m.?The claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 9 a.m. So there will still be some roster shuffling around the NFL.RECAP: 49ers transition tracker recap
But at least for a few hours, the 49ers' 53-man roster is the 49ers' 53-man roster.Let's take a closer look, shall we?Quarterbacks (3): Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Scott Tolzien.
Comment -- It's the same depth chart as a year ago, when Kaepernick and Tolzien were rookies. The thing to keep in mind is that the 49ers' coaching staff and personnel department see these players every day for nearly three-hour practices. They also work with them in the classroom. Everybody else gets to see the players only in the exhibition games. Josh Johnson was cut after a good performance Thursday night. But let's remember, he badly overthrew two wide-open receivers in games at Houston and Denver. He threw two touchdown passes Thursday against San Diego. One was a pass at the line of scrimmage that Nathan Palmer turned into a 51-yard score, and the other was a 3-yard toss. I think Tolzien's consistency in practices is what won him the job. And it also doesn't hurt that -- if it was a toss up -- Tolzien is younger and is scheduled to make approximately 300,000 less than Johnson this season.REWIND: 49ers release Josh Johnson; Tolzien wins No. 3 QB job
Running backs (6): Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James, Bruce Miller, Anthony Dixon.
Comment -- Dixon worked his way onto this roster through his play at halfback, fullback and special teams. His willingness to help the team in every area made veteran Rock Cartwright expendable. The other running back spots were clear cut. The only thing that's not clear cut is their exact roles, especially for rookie LaMichael James.Wide receivers (6): Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn, Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins.
Comment -- This was a pretty straight-forward position grouping. Crabtree, Moss and Manningham are the 49ers' top three receivers. Ginn and Williams are the top return men. And Jenkins is a player they can afford to take time to develop.Tight ends (4): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Demarcus Dobbs, Garrett Celek.
Comment -- Davis and Walker are set. Dobbs doubles as a defensive lineman, but his availability for early in the season is in question due to a calf injury. Celek was the initial surprise. He won a roster spot over Konrad Reuland. Celek is the younger brother of Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek. Garrett had an injury-plagued college career at Michigan State, where he caught 14 passes in his four-year career, including just five for 52 yards in his final two seasons. After dropping his share of passes early in camp, Celek came on strong.
Offensive line (8): Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Leonard Davis Daniel Kilgore. Joe Looney.
Comment -- The 49ers' backup tackle is also their starting right guard. Boone is the only reserve who plays tackle. He was the swing tackle a year ago. If the 49ers need a tackle, Leonard Davis steps into the lineup at right guard and Boone moves to tackle. If the 49ers need a guard, Leonard Davis is the man. If the 49ers need a center, that's where Kilgore comes in. All indications are that the 49ers will try to bring back Mike Person to the practice squad.Defensive line (6): Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Justin Smith, Ricky Jean Francois, Will Tukuafu, Ian Williams.
Comment -- Also, add Dobbs to this list. He's now wearing No. 83, so he'll be listed primarily as a tight end. So the 49ers decided to go heavy with defensive linemen again this season. Williams was on the bubble. He'll begin the season inactive for games as the 49ers have plenty of depth at this position.Outside linebackers (3): Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Parys Haralson.
Comment -- The 49ers could not justify, at this point, retaining a fourth outside linebacker, either Eric Bakhtiari or Ikaika Alama-Francis. Haralson has an undisclosed injury that kept him out of Thursday's game. The 49ers could look to the outside for some help here.Inside linebackers (4): Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Larry Grant, Tavares Gooden.
Comment -- Willis and Bowman were two first-team All-Pros last season. Grant was the player off the sideline to fill-in, and both Grant and Gooden were core special-teams players. Nothing changes.Cornerbacks (5): Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, Tramaine Brock.
Comment -- Cox played his way onto the roster with a strong offseason program and training camp. It remains to be seen exactly how the 49ers plan to use him, but we'll find out Sept. 9 when the 49ers face the multi-receiver attack of the Green Bay Packers. Brock was up-and-down at cornerback, but he's a very good special-teams player, particularly at gunner in punt coverage.Safeties (5): Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner, C.J. Spillman, Trenton Robinson, Darcel McBath.
Comment -- Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio never spoke highly of the backup safeties. Last year, the third safety was Reggie Smith. After the season, he and GM Trent Baalke agreed that it would be in Smith's best interest -- and the team's -- for him to test the free-agent market. Smith went to Carolina, and was cut on Friday. Currently, Spillman is the No. 3 safety. McBath earned his way onto the roster at this point with a good camp. Robinson, a sixth-round draft pick, is still developing. The 49ers parted ways with a good special teams player when they traded Colin Jones to Carolina. But Jones offered nothing as a safety. Specialists (3): David Akers, Andy Lee, Brian Jennings.
Comment -- This veteran group of Pro Bowl players was never in doubt. Beginning Saturday at 9 a.m., clubs may establish a practice squad of eight players by signing free agents who do not have an accrued season of free agency credit or who were on the 46-player active list for less than nine regular season games during each of any accrued seasons. A player cannot participate on the practice squad for more than three seasons.Among the strong candidates for positions on the 49ers' practice squad are: receiver Nathan Palmer (or Chris Owusu), linemen Mike Person, Al Netter and Derek Hall, linebackers Michael Wilhoite and Cam Johnson, and safety Michael Thomas.

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

In Kyle Shanahan’s first breath after being introduced as 49ers head coach on Feb. 9, he mentioned Jim Harbaugh, along with Bill Walsh, George Seifert and Steve Mariucci.

The head coach of Michigan was listening, and he appreciated the gesture.

“It was very flattering that he said nice things about us at his news conference, and I appreciated that,” Harbaugh said on "The TK Show," a podcast from Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.

“Now, I don’t think I was there long enough to be compared with Bill Walsh or Coach Seifert, etc. But I think did – and correct me if I’m wrong – I think we did set a record for coaching there the longest under the present ownership, if I’m not wrong.”

That is correct.

Since John and Denise York took over control of the 49ers in 2000 from Denise’s brother, Eddie DeBartolo, the 49ers have employed eight head coaches. Mike Nolan was fired after seven games of his fourth season. The two coaches who followed Harbaugh -- Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly -- were fired after 5-11 and 2-14 seasons, respectively.

Harbaugh’s teams advanced to the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance. He and the 49ers “mutually parted ways,” the club announced, immediately after the team finished with an 8-8 record in 2014.

“I take pride in that,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe there should be an endurance medal, a courage medal, for that.”

Shanahan mentioned Harbaugh during his opening remarks at the introductory press conference earlier this month:

“I’ve got to start out thanking Jed and the whole York family. Giving me this opportunity is, it’s a dream come true and it’s not just an opportunity to be a head coach, but to be a head coach at a place like this where you talk about Bill Walsh, you talk about George Seifert, Steve Mariucci, Jim Harbaugh and you can go down the line with the coaches.”

Said Harbaugh, “Just appreciated it. Appreciated it, and not just for me personally, but appreciated that for all the wonderful players we had and the wonderful coaches and the effort that was put in. People poured their hearts and souls into those years. It’s just appreciated that Kyle would make that comment.”

Harbaugh said he has deep respect for Shanahan and new 49ers general manager John Lynch, whom Harbaugh asked to speak to his Stanford teams during his four-year tenure as head coach.

“Yeah, I would’ve loved to have worked for John Lynch,” Harbaugh said. “He reminds me a lot of the athletic director we have here Warde Manuel, who’s also a former player and a teammate of mine. Common sense guys who are team guys, just the way they go about their business always speaks volumes.

“I thought John took note when they were going through the process. e didn’t want his name mentioned and I think that’s . . . I don’t know if a lot of people noticed that, but I think that’s a profound thing. I think that speaks volumes for who he is as a person. He wants to do a good job and it’s for the right reasons. He’s a competitor at the highest level, so I have great respect for that.”

Kawakami also asked Harbaugh about whether he believes quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still capable of being an NFL starter.

“There’s no doubt he can be an NFL starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said.

“I’m sure Kyle, the coaching staff there and John will meet on it, they’ll think about it, they’ll watch, much like we did when we got in there in 2011. And they’ll make the best decision they can for the team and the organization and it’ll play out the way it’s going to play out.”

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

During the month the 49ers had no general manager or head coach, Tom Gamble was the next-highest-ranking football official and was charge of the personnel department on an interim basis.

But CEO Jed York made it clear from the beginning Gamble, whom Trent Baalke promoted to assistant general manager just prior to the start of training camp last summer, would not be considered for a promotion to general manager.

John Lynch, with no front-office experience, was hired over Arizona’s Terry McDonough and Minnesota’s George Paton. Before Lynch’s introductory press conference, he hired two top lieutenants in the personnel department to usurp Gamble on the organization's power structure.

On Wednesday, the 49ers announced what had become inevitable: Gamble was leaving the organization.

“I must thank Jed, the York family and the entire 49ers organization for the wonderful memories they provided me and my family, but it is time I move on,” Gamble said in a statement. “This past month, I have had the pleasure of working alongside John Lynch and the talented staff he has assembled. The team is in capable hands and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Lynch’s first move as general manager was to hire Adam Peters away from the Denver Broncos to serve as 49ers vice president of player personnel.

Lynch worked alongside Peters when Lynch took part in Broncos meetings and prospect evaluations, which included a trip to the NFL scouting combine, prior to the 2013 draft.

“That month, month-and-a-half, I actually sat next to Adam every day,” Lynch told CSNBayArea.com. “Those are long meetings. I’d listen to him and we’d talk in between about players. I just saw way back then, he’s a guy who’s highly respected in the league. I firmly believe in two, three years, he would’ve been a GM. He was on that track, at least.”

During Lynch’s introductory press conference a week later, he announced the hiring of Martin Mayhew as senior personnel executive. Lynch and Mayhew were teammates in the secondary for Lynch’s first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mayhew spent seven seasons as Detroit Lions general manager. Mayhew should be able to provide Lynch with valuable counsel as learns on the job after spending the past eight seasons as a TV analyst on FOX.

“Martin has sat in the seat as a general manager and his experience will play an integral role in helping us locate the type of football player we want representing this organization both on the field and in the community,” Lynch said.

Gamble recently completed his 29th NFL season and his 10th with the 49ers in two stints. After he was fired as Philadelphia Eagles vice president of personnel late in the 2014 season, and came back to the 49ers in the 2015 offseason.

While with the Eagles, Gamble was one of the few individuals in the front office who worked well with Chip Kelly. Gamble played an important role in speaking up for Kelly and bringing him to the 49ers last offseason.

Kelly and Baalke were fired after the 49ers' 2-14 season, and the 49ers promoted the ability to create a fresh start when a new coach and general manager. While the 49ers were expecting Gamble to remain with the organization through the draft, his spot with the organization was going to be tenuous with a new regime.

“He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him,” Lynch said in a statement. “After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities.”