With the NFL preseason now wrapped up, the San Francisco 49ers (as well as all other NFL teams) must trim their roster from 75 players to 53.
(That means roughly 700 players will be put out on the market, ouch.)
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Here is my prediction for who makes the cut, who doesn't, and who I wish would make the cut.
Quarterback (3): There isn't a lot of brain work to put into this - Colin Kaepernick is the undisputed starter (quickly becoming the face of the franchise), Colt McCoy, to my dislike, will be the team's backup QB, and it will be merely a formality once BJ Daniels is confirmed as a member of the 53-man group. Daniels all but saw his spot secured once Scott Tolzien (cut) and Seneca Wallace (reportedly retiring) said goodbye to the team, but just to make sure he put on another solid performance last night in San Diego, and we all know about his added value in the skill positions and special teams.
Running Back (3): Frank Gore will be the team's starter for the 8th straight season, while Kendall Hunter will serve as the main backup at this position. LaMichael James has a special role with the team as a situational RB and return man, although I wish he stopped returning punts because he did not look comfortable on that role at all this preseason (at home or on the road). Jewel Hampton is an intriguing practice squad candidate.
Full Back (2): Bruce Miller's excellence at this position is one of the great secrets in the NFL, and Anthony Dixon has earned himself a spot on this team, where he can contribute as a full back, running back, and special teams demon.
Wide Receiver (6): Ah, the spoiler with the number in the parenthesis. This will change a bit from my prior thoughts on the recent Upon Further Review. Anquan Boldin is a no doubter, and after finally seeing the field twice since Sunday, Quinton Patton is such a lock to make this team that people are starting to draft him in fantasy leagues. Kyle Williams and Jonathan Baldwin also make the cut for reasons stated in that UFR piece, but here's where I'm calling an audible: although I disagree with the selection, because I'm yet to be impressed by him, it seems a sure thing that Marlon Moore will make this team. My final pick is Lavelle Hawkins, because as far as the competition on the field has gone he seems to be winner above the rest of the WR's not making the cut, because he has legitimate NFL talent, and because the unsportsmanlike penalties from last Sunday will not be a constant under Jim Harbaugh's watch.
Tight End (3): Vernon Davis will look to build on last year's playoff performance and bounce back from some rough performances he had when Kaepernick initially became the starter. Vance McDonald has looked like he can be an integral part of this offense (and if you don't want to see him hurdling more people, then you dislike football). Garrett Celek gets the nod here over the rookie MarQueis Gray - Celek proved his worth on the team last season and has done nothing this preseason to bring his stock down, while the rookie Gray is making the transition from playing QB in college. I look for Gray to be stashed in the practice squad after he goes through waivers.
Offensive Line (8): The best offensive line in football will be back displaying Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, and Anthony Davis from left to right. Backing them up will be Adam Snyder (who can play anywhere on the line), Daniel Kilgore (Center and Guard), and Joe Looney (Guard).
Defensive Line (6): Justin Smith will lead this unit once again alongside the underrated Ray McDonald and the up-and-coming Ian Williams. Glenn Dorsey will rotate all over the line, while DeMarcus Dobbs and Will Tukuafu earn their spots because they provide much needed depth at the position, have the versatility to play on both sides of the ball, and can contribute on special teams as well. Dobbs and Tukuafu may not finish the season with the team if rookies Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial make a successful return from their injuries.
Outside Linebacker (5): Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks are locks, while rookie third round pick Corey Lemonier looked so good this preseason that he made Parys Haralson expendable. Dan Skuta was brought in to be a special teams ace, but he has proved he can be a contributor at this position as well. Cam Johnson, man, he locked up that 53rd spot with his performance last night in San Diego. We also need to remember he fell to the 7th round of the 2012 draft because of concerns unrelated to his on-field skills, but once he gets on the field he can be the disruptive force we all witnessed last night. You can't ever have too much pass-rush in this league.
Inside Linebacker (4): Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman will once again form the best linebacker duo in the NFL, while Michael Wilhoite and rookie sixth rounder Nick Moody will stay active on special teams. It is worth noting that Wilhoite had one of the strongest performance in preseason for this team and he should get the initial nod for playing time if either Willis or Bowman need a rest.
Cornerback (5): Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown return as the starters in this unit, while former All-Pro Nnamdi Asomugha has reportedly locked up the 3rd CB job with a solid training camp and preseason. Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox complete the set here, and they will both be active as dime CB's and special teams members (with Cox hopefully being involved as a kick/punt returner). Eric Wright is wild card here and he's someone to monitor from the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list.
Safeties (5): First rounder Eric Reid has won the starting job at FS, and he should make for a good combination with veteran SS Donte Whitner. Craig Dahl is likely to get the first crack at backing up either of the starters, while CJ Spillman brings a lot of value as a gunner on special teams. I predict Trenton Robinson will make the team, for now, but he could lose his spot on the team if the coaches feel Wright is more valuable once he comes off the Reserve/Non Football Injury list.
Kicker (1): Phil Dawson has looked GREAT in preseason.
Punter (1): Andy Lee is reportedly working on a knuckle punt as he attempts to regain his spot as the top punter in the NFC All-Pro and Pro Bowl rosters.
Long Snaper (1): Let's all have a moment of silence as we say goodbye to one of the all-time great 49ers in Brian Jennings. Kevin McDermott, an undrafted rookie out of UCLA, has looked pretty good throughout training camp and preseason and will most likely get the nod as a cheaper/younger alternative.
If I was choosing the practice squad: RB Jewel Hampton, WR Chuck Jacobs, WR Ricardo Lockette, TE MarQueis Gray, LB Nate Stupar, CB Darryl Morris, S Michael Thomas, DL Tony Jerod-Eddie.
Agree/Disagree? Let me know in the comments below. You can also follow me on Twitter @DiegoDelBarco.