Maiocco on Wallace: 49ers want to increase competition
Jim Harbaugh must whittle down his roster to 53 men by August 31. (AP)
In eight days, the 49ers' active roster is required to shrink from 90 players to the regular-season limit of 53.
The 49ers know the identities of most of their main contributors with two exhibition games yet to play. Special-teams contributions and potential will shape the final handful of spots on the roster.
[RELATED: 49ers training camp page]
Two roster moves this week will also have an impact. In the case of Jon Baldwin, it clarifies the wide receiver position. However, the addition of Seneca Wallace complicates matters at quarterback.
Here is a look at the 49ers' projected 53-man roster to open the regular season:
Quarterbacks (3): Colin Kaepernick (shown, below right), Seneca Wallace, B.J. Daniels
Behind Kaepernick, nobody is 100-percent safe. Colt McCoy's athleticism is a plus, but he has struggled in the first two games. Scott Tolzien has practice squad eligibility, so the 49ers can keep him around. With another impressive exhibition game, Daniels will leave the 49ers no option but to keep him. The addition of Wallace indicates the 49ers do not feel secure with either of the veteran options.
[RELATED: 49ers sign Wallace, waive Lockette]
Running backs (5): Frank Gore, Bruce Miller, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon his seems fairly clear-cut. Jewel Hampton and D.J. Harper are likely battling for a spot on the practice squad.
Wide receivers (5): Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Jon Baldwin, Marlon Moore, Quinton Patton
The 49ers could keep six wide receivers. In that case, Chad Hall, Austin Collie, Lavelle Hawkins and special-teamer Kassim Osgood are in play. But a sixth wide receiver will have a difficult time suiting up for games, anyway. Plus, the 49ers expect Mario Manningham back at midseason and Michael Crabtree a little later.
Tight ends (4): Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, MarQueis Gray
Davis and McDonald are set. Celek won his way on the team last season, and he's more game-ready than Gray. But Gray is getting better and better and better. He has a lot of potential, and he's worth keeping around for a while to develop.
Offensive line (8): Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Adam Snyder, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney.
These eight are pretty solid. After this, the 49ers can look to keep two offensive linemen around on the practice squad. (Teams generally carry a total of 10 offensive linemen to prevent starters from doing double-duty on the scout team.) The 49ers drafted tackle Carter Bykowski in the seventh round. They could give him a longer look on the practice squad.
[RELATED: 49ers' final cuts will not run as deep]
Defensive line (5): Ray McDonald, Justin Smith, Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey, Will Tukuafu
Demarcus Dobbs begins the season on the suspended list for violating the NFL's policy on substances of abuse. When he's eligible after Week 1, the 49ers will have another decision to make. One big question is whether the 49ers saw enough in Lawrence Okoye to warrant an invite to practice squad.
Linebackers (9): Ahmad Brooks, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Parys Haralson, Michael Wilhoite, Dan Skuta, Corey Lemonier, Nick Moody
The 49ers could barely scrap together a backup outside linebacker a year ago after Parys Haralson's injury. Now, they have three legitimate backups -- Haralson, Lemonier and Skuta. And they also have seen big improvement from Cam Johnson, who ended up on the 53-man roster late in his rookie season. The 49ers hope Wilhoite and Moody never have to step in for Willis or Bowman, but that pair will remain plenty busy as special-teams aces.
Cornerbacks (6): Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Tramaine Brock, Nnamdi Asomugha, Perrish Cox, Marcus Cooper
It's been a good camp for the corners. Asomugha earned his spot, and continues to compete for the No. 3 job with Brock and Cox to replace injured Chris Culliver. Cooper, a seventh-round pick, has the kind of size that can't be taught. Undrafted Darryl Morris has been very good, too, but his 5 foot 9 1/2 size gives the edge to Cooper.
[NEWS: 49ers place McBath on IR]
Safeties (5): Eric Reid (below, right), Donte Whitner, C.J. Spillman, Craig Dahl, Bubba Ventrone
Ventrone has not seen a snap of action on defense, but his value is on special teams. He was punter Andy Lee's personal protector before he missed last week's game with a hamstring strain. Trenton Robinson, a sixth-round pick last year, is very much in the picture, too.
Specialists (3): Phil Dawson, Andy Lee, Brian Jennings
Serious competition remains at long-snapper, where Jennings has been nearly perfect for 13 seasons. There's no question the 49ers would like to get younger and cheaper, but at what cost? Rookie Kevin McDermott is giving the decision-makers plenty to think about.
The following players currently count against the 49ers' 90-player limit. These transactions can also be expected on Saturday, Aug. 31, as the 49ers trim their roster to 53 players:
DL Demarcus Dobbs
CB Chris Culliver
Physically unable to perform
WR Michael Crabtree
WR Mario Manningham
CB Eric Wright
RB Marcus Lattimore
DL Tank Carradine
DL Quinton Dial
T Luke Marquardt