Programming note: For comprehensive 49ers coverage from Santa Clara, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6:00, 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers must trim to the NFL’s mandatory 75-man roster limit by Tuesday afternoon, but that does not mean the 49ers must release 15 players.
The 49ers have seven players currently on the physically-unable-to-perform or non-football-injury lists. Each of those players is a candidate to be placed on reserve lists, which would clear roster spots and automatically make each player ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season.
Also, the full extent of center Marcus Martin’s injury is not known. He sustained an injury to his left knee cap. Depending on the diagnosis, Martin is a candidate for season-ending injured reserve. (At the first round of cuts, teams are not required to first expose a player to waivers in order to place him on injured reserve.)
Linebacker NaVorro Bowman and three draft picks – guard Brandon Thomas, cornerback Keith Reaser and fullback Trey Millard – are the top candidates to be moved to the reserve list.
Running back Marcus Lattimore, who has yet to be cleared to return to practice, is also a strong possibility to move to reserve/NFI.
Lattimore spent his entire rookie season on NFI, but did take part in his allowed three weeks of practices late in the regular season. After taking part in practices during the 49ers’ offseason program, Lattimore has remained on NFI for the first four weeks of training camp.
Lattimore continues to rehab from the grisly knee injury he sustained in October 2012 in his final season at South Carolina. On July 26, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said Lattimore was “close” to a return. He has sustained no known setbacks in his rehabilitation.
Tight end Garrett Celek, who has been out with a back injury, and rookie defensive lineman Kaleb Ramsey are also candidates for the reserve/PUP list.
Players who open the season on reserve/PUP or reserve/NFI have a six-week window at the end of the first six weeks of the season during which time they can return to practice and be placed on the 53-man roster.
After the first six weeks, a team has a five-week window during which time the player can be allowed to practice. Then, once the player begins practicing, the team has another three-week window to make a decision to activate the player to the 53-man roster, keep him on the reserve list for the remainder of the season, or release the player.
The 49ers are still hopeful Bowman can make a midseason return from the knee injury he sustained in the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks.