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.