Here we go again. I love periodically breaking down the roster and making predictions about the future. Since the draft is over and the players that will make up the 53 man roster are more than likely on the roster, this seems like a perfect time to analyze the battles we will see. Let me know what you think!
Offense (26 Players): I predict that the team will keep more players on this side of the ball since this is where we have the most question marks.
Starter - Alex Smith
Back-ups - Josh Johnson and Colin kaepernick
Analysis: The only battle we will see is Johnson vs. Kaepernick for the back up role. Many saw the signing of Johnson as a sign that the team lost faith in Kaep. I disagree. I think a good player was available for a good price so Baalke and Harbaugh decided that more talent is always better than less talent. I do hope that Tolzien is kept on the practice squad.
Starters - Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss
Back-ups - Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins, Ted Ginn, and Kyle Williams
Analysis: Baalke hinted that they might keep 6 players here and I think they do for several reasons that have been discussed here ad nauseam. The team only keeps 5 receivers if one of the following happens: a.) One of the 6 players above flames out during camp. b.) LaMichael James or Perrish Cox beats out Ginn as the main returner, which is Ginn's only real value. c.) The group of RBs makes it imperative to keep 6.
Starters - Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker
Back-up - Nate Bhyam
Analysis: The first two names are no-brainers. Bhyam has the most potential of all the other names on the roster and I believe he makes the roster especially given his ability to play FB/H-back
Starters - Frank Gore and Bruce Miller
Back-ups - Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter, and LaMichael James
Analysis: The notable cuts from this group are Rock Cartwright and Anthony Dixon. Both are Special Teams aces and I was really trying to keep one, but the other positions, particularly WR, made that impossible for me. I believe that there are enough Special Teamers throughout the roster to make these guys expendable.
Starters - Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis
Back-ups - Daniel Kilgore, Mike Person, Joe Looney, Jason Slowey
Analysis: I thought about only keeping 8 players here in order to have one more spot for a RB, but given the uncertainty at RG and the inexperience on the bench it didn't make sense to cut this position short. I love the potential in Looney and Slowey and the versatility person and Kilgore appear to bring. I think it is important to keep all of these guys locked up as we see how they progress.
Defense (24 Players): Last year the team kept more players on defense given the uncertainty at several positions (ILB, S, CB) but this year they have much more consistentcy.
Starters - Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga, and Ray McDonald
Back-ups - Will Tukuafu, Ricky Jean-Francois, and Demarcus Dobbs
Analysis: The starters are as strong as any in the league. RJF proved to be a solid back-up last year and Tukuafu was well thought of last year before the injury. I am excited to see what Tukuafu can do when healthy. The last spot goes to either Dobbs or Williams. Williams is a pure NT and might get the nod with Sopoaga being on his last year, but Dobbs showed some flashes last year. The team might be confident with RJF as the back up NT. I can't see the team keeping more than six here given the talent in other positions and the need for Special Team contributions.
Starters - Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, and Ahmad Brooks
Back-ups - Larry Grant, Tavares Gooden, Parys Haralson, Darius Fleming, and Cam Johnson
Analysis: I envision the team keeping 5 OLBs for several reason: Pass rushers are essential, the talent is on the roster now, and OLBs are good Special Teamers. This will only happen if Cam Johnson shows he has enough heart and health to force his way onto the roster.
Starters - Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner
Back-ups - C.J. Spillman and Trenton Robinson
Analysis: Last year the team kept 6 safeties because the team had no idea who was going to start in the first few weeks. Now that Goldson and Whitner have proven themselves, the team can use those other two roster spots elsewhere. Neither Spillman nor Robinson have much experience so this is risky, but both guys should be excellent special teamers. Colin Jones was switched to WR last year but may return to his safety position. The team may decide to keep him for his special team prowess, at the expense of one of the CBs.
Starters - Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers
Back-ups - Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, and Tramaine Brock
Analysis: The top three guys, Brown, Rogers, and Culliver, are pretty secure in their roles. Cox and Brock will have to beat out Nelms, Holcomb, and possibly Colin Jones as a Special Teams ace. Cox must knock the rust off and Brock must prove his worth on Special Teams and improve his speed in coverage.
Specialists (3 players): We have three of the best around.
K: David Akers
P: Andy lee
LS: Brian Jennings
Core Special Teamers:
LaMichael James (I have a feeling this kid will beg to cover kicks and punts which might lessen the pain of losing Dixon and/or Cartwright)
Spillman (Returning Ace)
Gooden (Very solid last year)
Grant (Very good special teamer)
Fleming (Needs to show he can handle this unit)
Johnson (Many question his desire. This is where he can prove them wrong.)
Robinson (He has been compared to Bob Sanders because of his tenacity. That should make him perfect for Seely's unit)
Just for fun, here is what I would love to see for the Practice Squad:
QB - Scott Tolzien (He will probably get scooped up, but it would be perfect if they kept him)
C - Chase Beeler (With so much youth in this unit, it would be smart to keep a guy with experience at this position)
RB - Jewel Hampton (Tons of talent and potential. Could be a ready made replacement for Jacobs.)
WR - Chris Owusu (It makes the most sense to keep him here and bring him along slowly. There should be mosre roster spots next year if he can prove to be healthy.)
DL - Matt Masifilo (He is described as a guy that overachieves. Sounds like a great guy to have around)
DL - Tony Jerod- Eddie (Huge guy with big upside. Why not?)
LB- Joe Holland (He is a future Special Team star with potential to add some weight.)
CB - Curtis Holcomb (He is recovering from a serious injury but offers big upside.)
The practice squad usually ends up being mostly guys from other teams that were cut, but these would be the 8 that I would want from our group.