Sept. 3, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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"Final cuts" are a bit of a misnomer. Yes, every NFL team must trim its roster to 53 players by 3 p.m. Saturday.But the bottom players on rosters throughout the NFL will continue to be juggled in the early portion of the season.For instance, the 49ers signed quarterback Troy Smith and waived Nate Davis three days after "final cuts" were made last year.
The first veteran player to receive news Saturday morning of his release was safety Curtis Taylor, a third-year player whom the 49ers drafted in the seventh round of 2009. Taylor remains eligible for the practice squad.Also, the 49ers are reportedly one of the teams is interested in inside linebacker Tavares Gooden, a three-year veteran who backed up Ray Lewis with the Baltimore Ravens. Gooden, who has struggled with injuries and is not a top special-teams player, was among the Saturday cuts on John Harbaugh's team.PFT: Tavares Gooden cut as Ravens get to 53
The 49ers currently have Larry Grant and Keaton Kristick as the backups to starters Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.Kristick sustained a left ankle injury Thursday night in the exhibition finale at San Diego. Kristick's injury is not serious, a source said. He is expected to be out of action for about a week. Kristick is on the 49ers' initial 53-man roster, a source said. Let's open the 49ers Mailbag to answer some questions posted on Facebook:Q: Do you see the 49ers picking up another O-lineman and cornerback off waivers? (Aaron Sturdivant)
My response: The 49ers really like the individual parts of their offensive line, which consists of seven players the club believes provides them with "starter material."Those seven players are left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Mike Iupati, center Jonathan Goodwin, right guard Chilo Rachal and right tackle Anthony Davis, along with interior backup Adam Snyder and swing tackle Alex Boone.So, I do not envision the 49ers adding anyone to the offensive line who might actually suit up and get into a game this season. The 49ers will likely retain rookies Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person as projects on the active roster.I would not be surprised if the 49ers look to add a cornerback. The 49ers could use some help there, as veteran Shawntae Spencer remains limited with a hamstring strain.Yes, I wrote this week that I did not think Spencer was a "slam dunk" to win a roster spot. But I now believe he is safe. The 49ers need the kind of experience that Spencer provides, and they have to wait for him to get healthy.Q: Will we be seeing a lot of Kendall Hunter this year? (Tyler Mize)
My response: The problem is that the 49ers are not as good with anyone not named Frank Gore in the backfield. So the 49ers might want to keep Gore fresh and work the backup into the action, but it's not that easy.The 49ers lose a lot in blitz pickup when Gore is not on the field. Kendall Hunter will have a key role, as he's expected to be the primary backup. But Hunter will probably get two or three attempts to every 10 times Gore touches the ball.Q: What are the chances the 49ers keep two fullbacks? (Ricky Medina)
My response: Bruce Miller definitely makes the team. He's a promising player who can be a big-time contributor on special teams as he continues to learn the fullback position.Veteran Moran Norris is on shaky ground, as the 49ers might also want to see who will become available before making a decision.I think the 49ers will make a decision whether to keep a third tight end or a second fullback. In a lot of ways, those are competing positions. After all, the 49ers' base offense will be two tight ends this season and not to backs.
Q: Do you see Dobbs and Smith as our sack tag team of the future? (Joshua Ochoa)
My response: Undrafted rookie Demarcus Dobbs is going to make the team. Outside linebacker Aldon Smith is going to make the team.Aldon Smith will definitely be counted upon to bring some juice to the 49ers' pass rush this season and into the future. Dobbs is likely to be inactive most -- if not all -- of his rookie season.But even when Dobbs develops to the point where he can have a steady role as a contributor, he's not going to be a sack artist. His job will be to play right defensive end in a 3-4. The pass rush must come from the outside linebackers.Watching him this summer, though, I often wondered why he wasn't drafted. The answer is because he was more of a dirty-work player during his career at Georgia. He's a hard-worker and very bright, but in his four-year career, he managed 7.5 sacks.
Sept. 3, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE