Projected 49ers' 53-man roster and practice squad


Projected 49ers' 53-man roster and practice squad

The 49ers are halfway through their exhibition season. After their game Sunday at the Denver Broncos, they must trim 37 players off their roster over a period of five days.NFL teams must cut from 90-man rosters to a maximum of 75 prior to Monday, 1 p.m. Then, they must arrive at 53 players before Friday, Aug. 31, 6 p.m.Injuries can still play a role in several of the final decisions, but here's my projected 53-man roster:Quarterbacks (4)
Alex Smith
Colin Kaepernick
Josh Johnson
Scott Tolzien
(Yes, that's right, four quarterbacks. It's a difficult call between Johnson and Tolzien, so the 49ers keep both of them. Let's face it, GM Trent Baalke would love to find a trade partner to pick up a late-round draft pick for Johnson or Tolzien. It might not seem likely the 49ers keep four QBs, but I don't believe it's so far-fetched, either. Tolzien has practice-squad eligibility. If the 49ers were to cut Tolzien, would they bring him back to the practice squad? If the answer is yes, then there's really no difference in just keeping him on the 53-man roster. The final seven players on the 53-man roster are just better-paid members of the practice squad, anyway. The only difference is that players retained on the 53-man roster never become available for any team to pluck off the waiver wire. Injuries happen, and at some point early in the season, a team with a need at quarterback might come calling. If I were to choose between Johnson and Tolzien at this point, I'd lean toward Tolzien.)Running backs (6)
Frank Gore
Bruce Miller
Kendall Hunter
Brandon Jacobs
LaMichael James
Rock Cartwright
(Cartwright's spot is the most tenuous. But the 49ers kept three players in addition to the specialists a year ago just for the sole purpose of their contributions on special teams. That decision paid off a year ago with outstanding coverage units. Cartwright would take the place of Blake Costanzo, now with the Chicago Bears. Anthony Dixon had a good camp, but there does not appear to be any room for him. If healthy, each of these players would be active on game days.)Wide receivers (6)
Michael Crabtree
Randy Moss
Mario Manningham
Ted Ginn
Kyle Williams
A.J. Jenkins
(This group looks solid. Williams sticks around after a good camp as a wideout. He also showed to be the second-best option on punt returns. Jenkins and Williams would probably not suit up for games unless there is an injury at this position.)Tight ends (3)
Vernon Davis
Delanie Walker
Demarcus Dobbs
(Dobbs' ability as a two-way player gives the 49ers position flexibility when it comes to their 53-man roster. He can also serve roles at tight end and on the defensive line as one of the 46 players to suit up.)Offensive line (9)
Joe Staley
Mike Iupati
Jonathan Goodwin
Alex Boone
Anthony Davis
Leonard Davis
Daniel Kilgore
Mike Person
Joe Looney
(If any of the guards or tackles had to be removed in the course of a game, Davis would enter and, if needed, Boone would shift to tackle. Kilgore would be the other offensive lineman to suit up based on his status as the team's backup center.)Defensive line (5)
Ray McDonald
Isaac Sopoaga
Justin Smith
Ricky Jean Francois
Will Tukuafu
(Dobbs, listed as a tight end, is also a backup here. So that means Tukuafu could be one of the team's inactive players. The big dilemma is Ian Williams, who was much-improved over a year ago. But the 49ers want all the backup linemen to play every position. Williams has worked primarily at nose tackle, while the other players are more versatile. If Williams is cut, there's a chance he could get claimed off waivers. If not, he'd be back on the practice squad.)Linebackers (7)
Ahmad Brooks
NaVorro Bowman
Patrick Willis
Aldon Smith
Parys Haralson
Larry Grant
Tavares Gooden
(Right now, the best guess is the 49ers will again keep three outside linebackers. That could change, of course, based on how Ikaika Alama-Francis fares in these two exhibition games. Eric Bakhtiari also has to be considered in the mix. Don't sleep on Michael Wilhoite, who has a chance to earn one of the backup roles with strong play on special teams.)Cornerbacks (5)
Carlos Rogers
Tarell Brown
Chris Culliver
Perrish Cox
Tramaine Brock
(There shouldn't be many questions about this group. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio says the 49ers need to find a role for Cox. Might Culliver's late-camp knee injury open the door for Cox to replace him? Brock could be inactive for games.)Safeties (5)
Dashon Goldson
Donte Whitner
C.J. Spillman
Trenton Robinson
Colin Jones
(Spillman appears to be in line as the No. 3 safety, but Fangio was up-front when he said none of the safeties behind the starters has stepped up and played up to expectations. Jones wins a roster spot for his special-teams coverage skills. Robinson is a developmental player, and likely might not suit up early in the season.)Specialists (3)
David Akers
Andy Lee
Brian Jennings
(The Pro Bowl trio is going nowhere.) Eight-player practice squad
WR Chris Owusu
TE Konrad Reuland
OL Jason Slowey
OL Derek Hall
DL Ian Williams
OLB Kourtnei Brown
ILB Michael Wilhoite
S Michael Thomas
(Again, another tough call with Owusu, Nathan Palmer and Brian Tyms at wideout. Chase Beeler is definitely in the mix, and Slowey is not a sure thing, despite being a sixth-round draft pick. Cory Nelms is also a serious option because he can serve a number of different scout-team roles on offense and as a defensive back.) Where does your opinion differ? Tell me where I'll be wrong and, if you're correct, you'll receive a shout-out for your incredible ability to project the 49ers' 53-man roster. Three conditions: 1) Your projection must be made before Sunday's game; 2) The first person in the comments section to correctly state any one roster adjustment wins; and 3) You can't be incorrect with any of your other guesses. (In other words, you can't take a whole bunch of shots in the dark and get lucky with one.)

WR Smelter gets second chance for first impression with 49ers

WR Smelter gets second chance for first impression with 49ers

SANTA CLARA – Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter is getting a second chance with the 49ers to show them, for the first time, what he can do.

Smelter, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015, sat out his entire rookie season to rehab from a left ACL tear from his final season at Georgia Tech. And the 49ers never got much of a look at him in the offseason and training camp this year because of a right hamstring injury.

After being waived/injured in September, Smelter spent more than six weeks getting healthy and dropping weight from 227 pounds to 210. The 49ers signed Smelter this week to the practice squad to replace Dres Anderson.

“I tried to drop the weight down to make it easier on my body,” he said. “I feel a lot lighter on my feet. Just out there running around, everything is a little easier. I feel smoother out there. Everything feels a lot more effortless.”

Smelter did not work out for any other teams during his time as a free agent. He spent most of his time in the Bay Area getting healthy. He traveled to the Dallas area to work with David Robinson, a trainer who runs D-Rob Sports & Fitness Training with a clientele list that includes Adrian Peterson, Emmanuel Sanders and Reuben Randle.

What did he work on? “Everything,” Smelter said. “I’m new to the position. I’m still learning a lot.”

Smelter attended college on a baseball scholarship before transitioning to football. He played 25 games at Georgia Tech, which runs the triple-option offense. In his final college season, he caught 35 passes for 715 yards and seven touchdowns.

With star TE Reed out again, Washington to lean on Vernon Davis


With star TE Reed out again, Washington to lean on Vernon Davis

ASHBURN, Va. -- First-round draft pick Josh Doctson was put on injured reserve by Washington on Friday with an injured left Achilles tendon.

Doctson has missed the past four games for Washington (4-2) after making just one catch in each of the team's first two games.

The wide receiver was the 22nd overall pick in this year's NFL draft but has been troubled by the Achilles tendon problem since rookie minicamp in May. Doctson did not play at all in the preseason.

"With all the work that we've put in, we thought it was best to immobilize him for a little bit of time and see if that can help," coach Jay Gruden said Friday.

Gruden raised the possibility of bringing Doctson back from IR later on - each team can do that with one player per season - saying, "Hopefully we'll get him back for the last, maybe, two games of the year."

Said teammate DeSean Jackson: "Hopefully he'll get right and get the treatment he needs and be back out there for us as soon as possible."

Doctson had one catch for 9 yards in Week 1, and one catch for 57 yards in Week 2. Washington was hoping he could contribute this season and be ready to step into a bigger role next season if Jackson or Pierre Garcon leaves via free agency.

Gruden also said tight end Jordan Reed will miss Sunday's game at the Detroit Lions (3-3) with a concussion. Reed, who leads the team with 33 catches in 2016, also sat out last week's win over Philadelphia after hitting his head during a victory over Baltimore a week earlier.

He participated somewhat in practice Wednesday - wearing a yellow, noncontact jersey - before being held out entirely Thursday and Friday.

"I don't think he had a setback," Gruden said. "I just think they didn't really clear him. ... That's all I can say. I don't even try to argue or ask why. I just (ask) if he's cleared or not - and the answer is `No.' So hopefully we'll get him back next week."

Jackson, the receiver whose left shoulder has been bothering him, practiced Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. He was listed as questionable against Detroit.

Gruden said the team would see how Jackson feels Saturday before determining whether he would play at Detroit.

"That's a decision they've got to make," Jackson said. "I think I'll be all right, though."